It is no secret that it is easier in our North American society to be male than to be female, to be heterosexual rather than anything else, and to be white rather than any of the other decorative colors in which the human species is available. There is much hand-wringing by self-identified liberal white males about how unfair it is that they have this advantage, and much grumbling among self-identified conservative white males about how everybody seems to be trying to make them feel guilty for the way they were born.

Dr. Boli would suggest that the liberals and the conservatives, though they may never agree in politics, may come to an accommodation in everyday social intercourse. He proposes that men who wish to get along in modern society should adopt the old-fashioned code of the gentleman.

A gentleman always treats others with respect, even if he privately thinks their heads are full of excelsior. He may have the most bizarre opinions of his own superiority, but a gentleman is as courteous to people he considers his inferiors as he is to the ones he considers his peers.

If males of privileged classes, whatever classes those might be, could bring themselves to behave as gentlemen, at once all the inequalities of their position would begin to fade away. The questions that most provoke us simply would not come up.

Racism? A gentleman knows certain forms of courtesy that are universally applicable; he has them ready to hand, and even if he privately holds the most disgusting ideas on the subject of race, they will not affect his actions in society in the least.

Sexism? A gentleman simply would not interrupt a woman, or denigrate her opinions, or attempt to stand in the way of her ambitions—because he would not do that to anyone. It simply isn’t done.

Gay marriage? It is not a question for a gentleman. A gentleman may have his private opinions on the subject, and his private opinions may be measured or lunatic, according to the particular gentleman’s mind; but a gentleman cannot conceive of how the details of a particular couple’s intimate life would be of any concern to him. A marriage to him is a public declaration that a couple intend to share dishwashing duties according to an agreed-upon schedule.

Transgendered persons? If a gentleman meets someone who identifies herself as a woman, it simply does not occur to him to say, “I doubt that.” That would not be a gentlemanly thing to do.

Sexual harassment in the workplace? It is impossible, because it brings down on his head, quite automatically, the most horrific penalty a gentleman can imagine—the penalty of hearing others say, That man is not a gentleman.

In fact, there is no reason such a code cannot be adopted by all classes and however many sexes you like to count. One does not have to call oneself a gentleman, of course. One can be anything one likes and still follow the code.

Dr. Boli does not mean to suggest that all the problems of the world would be solved if we all adopted the code of the gentleman. He merely suggests that it would bring the solution a little closer.


  1. Joseph Moore says:

    I agree. This has inspired me to work harder to be more gentlemanly.

    One must hope that gentlemanliness spreads, since, as King St. Louis of France, a gentleman by all accounts, is reported to have put it: there are two ways to deal with barbarians – reason with them, or run them through with the sword.

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