“Where have all the good men gone?” I Need A Hero, Bonnie Tyler.
Every woman wants her Prince Charming, forgetting that princes were often cowards, philanderers or pansies (there was actually a Buggery Act in 1533). The real heroes of the medieval period were bloodthirsty knights, guilty of more rapes than Caligula (he was kind of a benchmark).
When Bonnie Tyler sang “He’s gotta be fresh from a fight,” these “knights in shining armor” were always fresh from a fight. They wore red tights because they were “bloodsoaked,” a word Shakespeare created, by the way.
Most Prince Charmings in fiction were compulsive womanizers. Cinderella’s Prince Charming had an affair with the baker’s wife, admitting later to Cinderella that “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”
He abandons her and she commits suicide. That’s when you really wish the guy was a pansy.
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty didn’t fare much better. Their Prince Charmings, according to modern interpretations, like Sisters Grimm, ended up in divorce court because they couldn’t keep it in their pants.
In Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” a young actress refers to Dorian as her “Prince Charming.” He abandons her and she commits suicide. That’s when you really wish the guy was a pansy.
Real life wasn’t much better. Some medieval princes were outright pansies. Richard the Lionheart slept with King Phillip II of France. Richard III was so “twisted,” they found him on the battlefield with a pike shoved up his keister.
Knights in shining armor smelt terrible, Prince Charmings screwed around a lot, and heroes were made rather than recognized.
Henry V was pretty macho, but like the Marquis De Sade, Beau Brummel and Casanova, he was an unapologetic philanderer (like all the Henrys). That’s how you showed you were king material (and took baths occasionally).
In short, fairy tales aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Knights in shining armor smelt terrible, Prince Charmings screwed around a lot, and heroes were made rather than discovered.
Not that we didn’t have heroes, of men who thought they were heroes. American history is full of heroes. Whether you’d bed them or not is another matter.
Take George Armstrong Custer, once called “the greatest Indian fighter of all time.” Libbie, his wife, adored him, calling him her “Prince Charming,” yet he was heard telling an adjutant just before the Battle of Little Big Horn, “Let’s go down there and get some squaws.” That didn’t end very well.
Cheating seems to be a frequent theme with Prince Charmings. They look good on horseback. Their problem is when they get off a horse. Even if there isn’t a horse within 100 miles — like with John F. Kennedy — infidelity follows.
I’m sure Jackie Kennedy called John her “Prince Charming” at one time or another. It was, afterall, “The Camelot Presidency” (I know Camelot was King Arthur, but he fooled around on Guinevere, too).
According to Psychology Today, chivalry is somehow equated with a woman’s worth.
Kennedy had lots of women during his presidency, including Marilyn Monroe, Gene Tierney and Marlene Dietrich.
John Boy was a quick finisher, according to Dietrich. While he slept afterwards, she got up and did her one-woman show across town. She also slept with Joe Kennedy — not the same night — but obviously Washington was a good place to do a one-woman show.
So why do women still want fairy tale romances? Why do we keep seeing hundreds, possibly thousands, of dating profiles saying “I want a real man,” or “I know my Prince Charming is out there,“ or “I’m waiting for my knight in shining armor to come rescue me.”
If the most chivalrous knights couldn’t stay loyal and swooning, what chance have we got? We’ll be defying a thousand years of failed chivalry.
Is it because women still dream of being princesses? According to Psychology Today, chivalry is somehow equated with a woman’s worth. If she’s “prized and cherished” she must be good — or at least good in bed.
Unfortunately, most men can’t live up to even minimal knightly expectations. If you want a faithful, adoring, swooning, covetous man, what you’ll get is what psychologists call “benevolent sexism.”
Benevolent sexism refers to men treating women like delicate timepieces. That’s all well and good if a woman wants to sit in a tower like Rapunzel. Not so good if a woman, say, has a career, or wants to go bowling
It’s also a problem for men. If the most chivalrous knights couldn’t stay loyal and swooning, what chance have we got? We’ll be defying a thousand years of failed chivalry.
Admittedly, a few men manage to keep up the fantasy of giving flowers and swooning every chance they get. They’re called pansies.
If Kim can’t buy a fairy tale marriage with all her money, what chance have we got?
The rest of us must stare failure in the face. And don’t expect a woman to understand if we do fail. She’ll become depressed. She’ll say she wished we’d stayed frogs. We’ll probably end up sticking a pike up our own keisters.
As one psychologist pointed out, trying to live in a fantasy can lead to colossal failures. Take Kim Kardashian’s 72-day first marriage. “I wanted a life that I’ve always pictured my fairy tale life to be,” she whined. If Kim can’t buy a fairy tale marriage with all her money, what chance have we got?
“If you want to live happily ever after,” the same psychologist said, “you’re better off forgetting castles and knights in shining armor. Women of that era — even royal women — really suffered. Where do you think the chastity belt came from?”
Madonna paid almost $92 million to settle her divorce to Guy Richie.
“For me,” Jennifer Lopez said on Good Morning America, “the biggest dream is the fairy tale and I will never give up on that.” After three failed marriages, you’d think she would. Cris Judd alone got $14 million, which is about $55,000 for each day they were married.
If that doesn’t cure you of fairy tales, maybe this will: Madonna paid almost $92 million to settle her divorce to Guy Richie. That included Ashcombe Castle in Scotland, valued at around $30 million.
Maybe Madonna, J.Lo and Kim can afford these kinds of matrimonial mistakes, but most women can’t. Better to be more realistic, forget fairy tales and let frogs hop around on someone else’s lily pad.
Kim, especially, should learn from her mother, Chris Jenner. Didn’t her Prince Charming end up in a dress?
Robert Cormack is a novelist, humorist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (now in paperback. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Pressfor more details.