Friday, June 28, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: White Knight Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: My guy friend keeps jumping to my defense in public. I grew up with three brothers, I can take care of myself. What's he doing?

A: Ah, yes. The White Knight.

Here's the thing: guys can broadly be categorized into three groups:

1. Dilrods - easily identified by their misogyny and overuse of body spray. For further reference, see the Texas State Legislature.

2. Men -  guys of any age who look you in the eye when they talk to you and don't talk trash about their exes.

3. White Knights - otherwise nice guys who think they can get in your good graces by coming to your defense for every little perceived sleight. 

Men and Dilrods are easy to spot.

Men show up on time and introduce you to their friends. Confidence surrounds them like a hunky aura that smells of mahogany and pancakes. They don't have to tell you they're men, you just know.
Real men smell like me, son.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dilrods are just as easy to identify. They run in packs because they're too insecure to walk alone. They start Kickstarter campaigns on how to pick up girlsIf you're not sure he's a Dilrod, don't worry. At some point he'll open his mouth and remove all doubt.
Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Then there are White Knights. They're a little more difficult to pin down. That's because White Knights aren't always White Knights. They begin life as nice guys who are trying to become Men. But presented with the right stimulus, they transition to the White Knight stage very quickly.
A White Knight farts in your general direction.
They're like clownfish, changing their position in the hierarchy as needs demand.

Wait, you didn't know clownfish can change gender based on need? In their dominance hierarchy, if the top female is removed from the group, one of the largest and most dominant males will become female.

Yeah, Pixar has some 'splainin' to do.
The term White Knight seems to have originated among gamers and the online forums they frequent. In that rarefied world, men see women as unicorn farts: so uncommon, delicate and ephemeral, they must be escorted by armed guard through every thread by self-appointed knights of the douche table. 

Want to see them in action? Just introduce yourself in a gaming thread as JanelleDragonborn19. Almost immediately you'll be inundated with comments like:

"Hark, a beautiful maiden in our midst!"
"Aw, don't let these idiots scare you off, they've just never seen a girl before."
"Hey gurl, so cool ur a gamr! PM me and I'll explain how this works."
"Hello, mi'lady, welcome to our fine realm!"

The weirdly flowery faux-Arthurian speech is totally authentic. For some reason some White Knights actually think they're real knights. You know, the kind that work at Medieval Times and have shields made of Styrofoam.

The White Knight typically assumes you somehow need to be "shown the ropes." This despite the fact that you've been gaming since you could first hold a controller or, you know, designed the damn game.
Voted Least Likely to Need a Walkthrough: Kim Swift, lead designer on Portal and Left 4 Dead 1 & 2
White Knighting is motivated from a positive place, I guess. At some point in our lives, men have watched their wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers be treated poorly by some asshole on a power trip. So when our hackles get raised, by a rude comment or a leery eye, we're not trying to treat you like an inferior or imply that you can't take care of yourself. Some guys are just expressing their discomfort with other guys behaving badly and giving all guys a bad name.

But most of the time, this isn't really White Knighting. True White Knights, the cringe-worthy kind that make you feel like you need a shower, have an agenda.
Put simply, White Knights think they have a chance with you.

Put crassly, your buddy wants to sleep with you.

This becomes painfully apparent in Reddit threads where a woman will post some cosplay pictures. Female Redditors know what they're wading into. For the most part, posters are respectful and post comments about the outfit and how closely it matches the target character. Some even manage to find a way to be charming and complimentary about the cosplayer herself.

But all it takes is one Dilrod and his hurr-hurr-hurr comment about the poster's butt to bring out all the White Knights.

Suddenly, the thread is filled with men challenging each other to jousts for milady's honor or explaining that no one else but the White Knight appreciates women like he does.

Followed by creepy appeals for a private conversation to discuss the issue in more detail.

Ugh, he might as well ask if he can wear her skin as a suit. Creepy Hannibal-wannabe is creepy.

The thing is, guys, if you really were that in tune with women you'd know your desperation has a scent. And it doesn't smell like mahogany and pancakes.

The one good thing about a White Knight is that, because his behavior is rooted in a desire to be seen in a positive light, the recipient has a lot of power. He wants her attention which means she already has his.

Use this to your advantage. Your friend has feelings for you. And his White Knightery is an awkward way of expressing those feelings. Let him know he doesn't have to "protect" you, that you can take care of yourself. If you need any help, you'll be sure to let him know.

Most White Knights will realize that they've come on like morons and back off. With any luck, your White Knight will shed his Styrofoam shield and become a real man.

If not, they're always hiring at Medieval Times.

Copil challenges you to a joust on Twitter (@Copil).


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