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Space for Rent: White Knight

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When I first heard the term it really confused me. What the hell did it mean? What were they trying to say by labeling someone a, “White Knight’? The two most common definitions go something like this:

  • A person, usually male, who intercedes in a situation where a woman is under scrutiny for the sole purpose of impress said female.
  • A person who jumps to the defense of another without knowing all the facts.

The first one is obvious, nobody does anything without getting something in return. A very cynical view of humanity and one designed to lower the would be “rescuer” to the level of the harasser. It says, “Hey buddy, you are not better than me because you want the same thing.” My answer to that is simple, I do it because I hate bullies and doing the right thing is its own reward.

It is the second bullet point that it is more…insidious. While it is true that people can jump into a situation half-cocked, more often than not people do nothing at all. Fear of making a mistake, or helping the wrong party, social pressure, or simply risks of injury (physical or emotional) prevents us from taking action. This is the, “This is none of your damn business!” type of thing. And anyone who knows how abusers cage their victims knows that the first weapon in their arsenal is isolation. They pick out a weak link and then isolated from the rest. By labeling anyone who would reach out to the victim as a White Knight they are saying two things:

  1. To the victim: you can’t trust them, they are as bad as anyone else.
  2. To the person reaching out: this will go badly for you.

Two words, one powerful effect. And bullies need that effect. For you see, all bullies are cowards. That is why the pick on the vulnerable. They don’t take on the strongest, they take on the weakest, made weaker by isolation. It is much easier to gang up on a lone individual than to face anything resembling equal odds. So the next time someone throws this term around, you look them in the eye and say, “Not today buddy, not today.”


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