Sunday, 6 January 2013

Paladins & Princesses

Paladins & Princesses - Redefining masculinity in the 21st Century - an article by Simon and Tilda Mason.

As mankind progresses further into the 21st Century, it is hard to avoid the fact that as women have completely redefined their roles and status over the last century, the role and status of men has never been more uncertain.  Men, it has often been said, are in crisis.  They are failing at school, they are losing their jobs and their status as breadwinners and the value of the male sex within society is questionable.  In an age where women can earn their own living, support a family and even have children without needing to involve a man at all, the status of men is under threat.

Men in general are aware of all this, but most stay silent.  There are, however, exceptions and the object of this article is to look at two of these groups.  Neither of them, we should say, are anti-women in the way that many new male rights groups are.  Both the groups being examined are very different from each other, as you will see.

I (Tilda) travelled to a private estate in Texas and met a man who full titles and names are as follows: Sir Maximillian Plantagenet, Grand Master and Rector of the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Cross.  He graciously allowed me to call him Sir Max during my stay with his Order.

"Sir Max" is actually a Texas Oil billionnaire.  He has been married and divorced six times and each of his former wives has left with a six figure fortune.  The failure of his marriages has lead Sir Max to examine his own personality and spirituality. He found these to be lacking and this lead him to setting up the Order.

The setting for the Order is one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen, for Sir Max designed, commissioned and built a massive medieval castle out of authentic medieval stone that was shipped over from Great Britain.  "Camelot" (for that is the name Sir Max selected for the resulting edifice) is like a fairy tale palace.  Stepping into it was like time travelling back into the middle ages.

There is no modern technology here.  Everything is done as it would have been done in medieval times.  The people who live in this fabricated throw back world are seperated by class and gender.  At the top are Sir Max and his knights, all men aged between about 20 and 60, who spend most of their time practising swordplay and jousting, hunting or praying.  Then there are artisans, merchants and servants who provide the infrastructure for this make believe world.  Then there are the women who are mainly of two types - ladies who prance about in expensive dresses and steepled hats - and menial servants who make beds, prepare meals and do the laundry.  Needless to say, without the modern labour saving devices available in our century, many tasks are time consuming and back breaking.

As a female guest, I was to be a lady, rather than a servant.  I had to exchange my 21st Century clothes and accessories for some linen undergarments, a silk dress and a high steepled hat.  My outfit made me appear more feminine, which I suppose was the point, and it was comfortable to wear.  I then spent a week at the court of Sir Max.  I took part in a hunt, medieval banquets, dances and watched the knights joust.  It was all somewhat enjoyable, but the knights seemed to be having more fun.

The knights and, indeed, all men, were very deferential and courteous towards any woman.  When I entered a room, all men present bowed to me and kissed my hand.  At mealtimes, I was "looked after" by a solicitous young knight who would carve my beef for me and serve me dishes.  But at the same time, I found it all demeaning.  In this world, women were given respect and courtesy, but no say in how things were run here.

That was all decided by the Order, who met in secret at regular intervals.  As only men could be knights of the Order, women were of course excluded.  When I interviewed Sir Max, he explained to me that the Order's focus was on male bonding and spirituality.  Men needed to go back to a simpler time to reconnect with masculine values that had been blurred in recent years.

What about the women? I asked. Sir Max said that women needed to go back to traditional feminine values, but that his Order was not the place for this.  I was not sorry when the time came for me to hang up my steepled hat and return to the real world.  Sir Max's "vision" of masculinity is too narrow and does little for women.

More attractive is a new movement, Princesses, which admittedly does not sound like having anything to do with men but which was founded by one.  My husband, Simon, went along to take a look at them.

I (Simon) contacted the founder of Princesses, Roland Forsythe, who is now known as Rosalyn.  Rosalyn was a middle-aged man who wore an extravagent purple evening dress and expensive looking jewellery.  His hair, dyed a rich blonde, fell to his waist, and he was fully made up.  He insisted on my kissing his hand.  Each finger, I noted, was adorned with a ring, and the nails were varnished a deep red colour.  Rosalyn looked every inch a woman.

Rosalyn reminded me of the condition he had laid on giving me an interview and allowing me access to his organisation.  Tilda had helped denude my limbs and chest and so it only remained for me to struggle into the feminine outfit I had brought with me, a knee length black skirt, cream blouse and matching jacket along with all the necessary underwear, accessories and shoes.  The make up and wig were the hardest items to put on but I managed it and tottered out en femme.

Rosalyn complimented me on my new appearance.  I felt very silly and was regretting agreeing to the condition.  He explained that he had founded Princesses based on his own experience and thoughts on the "gender quake" that had been going on for the last 50 or so years.

Beginning life as a traditional male born in the early fifties, Roland had had a good job, a good marriage and children.  He had been the breadwinner and patriarch without question.  Then, in the nineties, he had lost his job in the recession.  His wife managed to find a job and they effectively switched traditional gender roles.  After 30 or so years as top dog, Roland found this hard to take at first and he came close to having a mental breakdown.

Then, having time on his hands, Roland networked with other men in the same position as him and he conducted research into the genderquake.  What he found transformed his thinking.  It was clear that women represented the future leaders of society.  Every statistic he had looked at on the subject of male and female performance supported this conclusion. Men had lost the battle of the sexes and had to live with the consequences of their defeat at the hands of the stronger sex.

A man's place, Roland concluded, was in the home, supporting his wife whilst she built and consolidated her career.  Not only that, but men should give up obsolete notions of masculinity and embrace femininity as the future.  Roland took the drastic step of replacing his entire wardrobe with feminine finery.  He took housework and attention to his personal feminine presentation very seriously.  Even Roland found it humiliating to dress in women's underwear and clothes at first, but his wife was very supportive and shares his vision.

Princesses exists across the USA to help men who are struggling in a world that is becoming increasingly female-dominated (in line with Roland's predictions) to not only get in touch with their feminine side but to take on a traditionally female persona and role in order to support women.  The movement is small but growing steadily.

Rosalyn, who looked very natural and comfortable in her outfit (as opposed to me who found it very difficult to even walk with any confidence), took me to a meeting of a local Princesses.  There were about a dozen men there, most of them dressed as women in a very over the top way.  There was one man who stood out precisely because he was still dressed as a man.  He was, Rosalyn explained, a newbie.  A first time attendee who wanted to see what the movement was about but this attendee looked extremely uncomfortable in the midst of all the cross-dressed men.  Perhaps his wife had made him come.

There were also some women present, who had come along to support their men.  The meeting consisted of a cookery lesson (Salmon Mousse).  Then a member who had designed his own dress for a social modelled it for the benefit of the group to applause.  Rosalyn then gave a talk entitled "The future of masculinity" which was in essence what he had explained to me earlier.  Then the group retired to the bar for social chit chat and gossip.

I looked around the bar at men dressed in evening gowns and cocktail dresses, wearing rather too much make up and perfume, and teetering on high heels and wondered if this was really the future of masculinity.  Have men fallen so far that they must basically become women?  Speaking personally, it was not a future I wanted for myself or my sons.  I had to leave early, as my heels were killing me.

Having seen two very different re-definitions of masculinity, the future course of masculinity in the 21st Century will probably not be quite as extreme as the visions portrayed by the two groups, but what it will be, in an ever changing world, is anyone's guess.


  1. I am glad to see your new story so soon. :)

  2. The world will change in this way for the better.