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January 21, 2018

PEGGY NOONAN: America Needs More Gentlemen.

Here is why we’re discussing this. All the stories we’ve read the past few months about predators—not those accused of rape and sexual assault, which are crimes, but of general piggishness, grabbiness, manipulation and power games—have a common thread. The men involved were not gentlemen. They acted as if they’d never heard of the concept.

We have lost track of it. In the past 40 years, in the movement for full equality, we threw it over the side. But we should rescue that old and helpful way of being. The whole culture, especially women, needs The Gentleman back.

A person of the cultural left would say that is a hopelessly patriarchal thing to say. But one thing the #MeToo movement illustrates is that women are often at particular risk in the world, and need friends and allies to stand with them. That would be men. And the most reliable of them are gentlemen.

There are a million definitions of what a gentleman is, and some begin with references to being born to a particular standing. But in America any man could be one who had the guts to withstand the demands.

The dictionary says a gentleman is a chivalrous, courteous, honorable man.

As Glenn wrote a few years ago, “chivalry was a system, which imposed numerous obligations on women, as well as on men. It is, I think, impossible to critique what has happened to notions of masculinity, without thinking about what has happened to notions of femininity in our culture. But that could lead to dangerous heresies.”

And get you banned from Britain’s Channel 4 TV.