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“White Knight” (also known as “Internet White Knight”) is a pejorative term used to describe men who defend women on the Internet with the assumption that they are looking for a romantic reward in return.
The term “white knight” is derived from the knight-errant stock character, a medieval figure in romance literature that would perform various acts to prove his chivalry. According to Wikipedia, the term “knight-errant” was first recorded in the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but was developed as a romance genre character during the late 12th century. The first Urban Dictionary definition was submitted by user Jake on November 3rd, 2004, which defined the phrase as a male who attempts to aid a woman in distress.
On January 17th, 2007, the Internet humor site Something Awful published a post titled “A Few Words on the Internet White Knight,” which criticized white knights for being indiscriminate in the women they choose to defend. On January 6th, 2009, Urban Dictionary member abstractsplash submitted an entry for “Internet White Knight,” defining the term as “someone who stands up for girls on the Internet they barely know.” On June 23rd, BodyBuilding Forums member QB_Killa submitted a thread listing several signs that someone had become a white knight. On September 1st, IGN Forums member DarkChronic submitted a thread titled “So wait, someone explain what an ‘Internet white knight’ is to me,” to which member D.Bills embedded an image of a knight sitting at a computer with strike marks on his wall counting the number of women he had rescued online (shown below).
On April 30th, 2010, a thread was created on the /tv/ (Television and Film) board on 4chan, in which a user was referred to as a “white knight” for requesting others refrain from making fun of rape. The same day, the Internet news blog Urlesque published an article by staff writer Nick Douglas titled “The Five Most Annoying Kinds of Internet Scolds,” listing “The Internet White Knight” as a manipulator that attempts to win over women by defending them online. On August 7th, a page for “White Knighting” was created on TV Tropes, which associated the meme with the “Bully Hunter,” “Knight in Shining Armor” and “Damsel in Distress” tropes. On November 19th, 2011, a Facebook page for “White Knight” was created, which received over 625 likes within one year.
On January 17th, 2011, YouTuber EtherealAntichrist uploaded a video titled “Enonymity [sic] and White Knighting,” which argued that white knighting is a practice that should be encouraged (shown below).