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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

White-Knighting

 

For better, worse, or otherwise, the conservative principles by which I was raised required that as a male I was obligated to protect and provide. Protection of myself, family, and community meant preparedness to die in defense of what was deemed morally and ethically righteous and proper.

 

Provision of resources such as time, effort, or money further served those to whom I was required to protect. Thus, by default, protection and provision were principles to which each male (boy or man) was principally bound.

 

When learning these fundamental aspects of masculinity, I was invited to consider myself something akin to a white knight—one that comes to the rescue of another. As an example, my dad would often refer to our home as a castle while males residing in the home served as knightly figures.

 

Worth noting, white-knighting—the act of coming to the aid of other people—is perceived by individuals under different interpretations. For instance, one source explains:

 

White knights are men who derive their value from defending damsels in distress against evil forces. They are willing to engage in a fantasy to achieve this—imagining evil women to be damsels, and good men to be dragons.

 

One remains uncertain about this perspective, as a more fitting description would portray righteous women as damsels in distress and evil men represented by dragons needing to be slayed. Nevertheless, a separate source opines:

 

“White knight” is also used in slang to refer to men who are trying to curry the favor of women by protecting them, alongside other, similar terms, such as “simp” or “whipped”. The usage of the term implies that these men, when doing nice things for women, are motivated only by sexual desires.

 

This pejorative interpretation of white-knighting is supported by hip hop cultural references. For instance, on Three 6 Mafia’s album When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000), featuring Bun B and the late Pimp C of UGK, Pimp C stated in the song “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” “I’m trill, working the wheel, a pimp, not a simp.”

 

Thus, it’s inferred that being dominant (pimp) is preferable to being submissive (simp). Likewise, on his album Illegal Business? 2000 (1999), Mac Mall featured a song called “Pussy Whipped,” in which he stated, “So, if you’re like me, in love with the pussy and think that na na is the place to be, you’re pussy whipped.”

 

According to one source, “A ‘white knight’ is a man you find all over the Internet on forums, groups, YouTube videos and blogs. A white knight’s sole purpose in life is to prove he’s different from other man preferably so called ‘toxic’ men.”

 

When one who’s brought up believing it’s preferable to protect and provide encounters differing perspectives such as this, it’s logical and reasonable to questions one’s bias related to saving others. Noteworthy, the values under which I was raised centered females (girls and women) above males.

 

For instance, I was taught chivalrous behavior such as placing myself on the outer most (traffic side) of a sidewalk when walking with females. If a car splashed water or veered onto the sidewalk, I was expected to be soiled or injured before allowing a female to suffer similar consequences.

 

Is the manner in which I raised considered inherently toxic? It all depends on who one asks. Far be it for individuals not to pathologize… well, just about anything. As an example of this abnormalizing behavior, one source reports:

 

A person with white knight syndrome has a compulsive need to save and help people and try to solve their problems. There’s a history of abandonment, trauma, and unrequited affections behind their behavior. Hence, they have a high ability to empathize and will try to help others, even though their efforts may not always be appropriate.

 

For the record, I don’t subscribe to the notion of “white knight syndrome” being an actual effect. While it’s true that I have a history of trauma and not always have my actions of helping people been well-received, I don’t believe in empathy – let alone retaining a heightened ability to demonstrate this imaginary concept.

 

Nevertheless, research regarding “benevolent sexism” apparently associated with the “white knight’ effect” counters my opinion about this supposedly pathological phenomenon. I respectfully disagree.

 

In any case, as I transitioned from childhood to adolescence, I discovered E-40’s song “Captain Save a Hoe,” from his album The Mail Man (1993). E-40 stated:

 

I got the gift to grab any batch that I want, but I don’t

‘Cause batches now days’ll get you caught up in some funk

Oh no, I’m not tryin’ to save you hoes, and

How come when I was broke you wasn’t brown nosin’?

 

The song served as a retort to the principles under which I was raised. Although I didn’t deny that some males who behaved in a pleasant manner toward females had ulterior motives, I genuinely didn’t perceive my actions as aligned with garnering sexual favoritism.

 

Transitioning from adolescence to early adulthood, I encountered Three 6 Mafia group member Project Pat’s song “Don’t Save Her,” from his album Mista Don’t Play: Everythangs Workin (2001). Project Pat stated:

 

I’mma introduce me Project Pat I keep it real

I’mma introduce you, you’s a sucka faking deals

If you gonna let these freaky hoes run yo life

I don’t understand how you turn a freak into a wife

 

White-knighting principles taught to me since childhood were interpreted differently by rappers whose music I enjoyed. Thus, I experienced cognitive dissonance regarding beliefs I valued and the discomfort I experienced when considering the perspectives of others.

 

Through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I recognize that my assumptions about critiques from people in regards to white-knighting are what caused unpleasant consequences such as shame and discomfort. In essence, I disturbed myself with irrational beliefs about criticisms.

 

To provide an example of how I upset myself, it may be useful to understand the ABC model of REBT. When Activating events occur and people maintain irrational Beliefs about the events, these unhelpful assumptions – and not the actual occurrences – are what create unpleasant cognitive, emotive, bodily sensation, and behavioral Consequences.

 

The ABC model incorporates Disputation of unhelpful assumptions in order to explore Effective new beliefs. If there were a mathematical formula for the ABC model, it would be something like: Action + Belief = Consequence ÷ Disputation = Effective new belief.

 

For an Activating event, consider what one source states about white-knighting:

 

In the beginning, white knights may be truly emotionally sensitive and caring about the other person. However, what once was a sincere concern may sometimes progress to a narcissistic desire

 

·  to be admired,

·  to be loved,

·  to be important,

·  to be indispensable,

·  to tell others what to do.

 

When encountering criticism of principles under which I was raised, such as that offered by the aforementioned source, I once irrationally Believed, “My desire to help people shouldn’t be criticized and if it’s true that my behavior represents narcissism, I can’t stand that I’m like this!”

 

Because of my unproductive assumption, I experienced shame and discomfort (Consequence). Therefore, I unnecessarily self-disturbed with by beliefs regarding the opinions of others.

 

Without disputing by assumptions, I began to layer additional unfavorable beliefs which led to additional unpleasant consequences. Still, I denied this discomforting experience and irrationally concluded that what made me a decent man was my willingness to sacrifice myself for others.

 

As such, I devoted myself to feminism and identified as a social justice warrior (SJW). All the while, people continued criticizing men like me. For instance, in a blogpost entitled Feminism, I stated:

 

Per Gad Saad, “The zoological term ‘sneaky fuck*r strategy’ has indeed existed for a long time. I applied the concept to explain male SJWs.” However, my former advocacy for feminism had nothing to do with wanting to get laid.

 

The discomfort I experienced as a result of my beliefs eventually became too pronounced than to ignore. In 2019, I consulted with members of my inner circle, acquaintances, and a number of online sources in order gather evidence for disputing my unfavorable beliefs.

 

My scientific approach related to what is known in REBT as the empirical dispute—asking if there is evidence to support or refute beliefs. The sources I engaged were quite helpful.

 

I determined that although some people view white-knighting as immoral, my moral code was different than theirs. By providing and protecting, I wasn’t a simp, I wasn’t whipped, I wasn’t behaving in a toxic manner, and I wasn’t exhibiting narcissistic traits.

 

Additionally, I realized that I didn’t need to identify as a feminist or SJW in order to be a decent person. Consequently, these effective new beliefs resolved the experience of shame and discomfort.

 

People who ostensibly value pathologizing behavior will likely continue using questionable claims about white-knighting. Regarding such people, I use unconditional acceptance and appreciate that we don’t all have to agree.

 

Ultimately, I’ll continue practicing REBT in an attempt to help people live rationally. This, I’ll do in a flexible manner when keeping in mind that I can’t help everyone.

 

Therefore, when I encounter people who refuse help, I’ll sing to myself an altered version of tracks by E-40 and Project Pat by thinking, “Ah is a, ah is a, should I save them? Don’t save them, they don’t wanna be saved!”

 

Perhaps you’re looking for a psychotherapist who can help you think rationally in order to increase your level of functioning and quality of life. While I’m not one who envelopes pathological characteristics of white-knighting for you, I can try to help you get better rather than merely feeling better.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


 

References:

 

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