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Men as protectors

(265 Posts)
SoftDriftedSnow Sun 24-Apr-16 23:21:48

Is it ever really true, except in their own minds?

A new study shows that marriage (or rather, the expectations of marriage) is detrimental to women. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/22/wives-become-less-stressed-after-their-husbands-die-study-finds/

When you add in the rates of violence against women by men, why does this myth of men being protectors prevail?

And if it doesn't (not convinced) why is it still perceived by a significant proportion of people that women without a man are lacking? Maybe that's simply still function of perceived worth being determined by the man you get?

Rambling, but thinking. (and I am pretty much convinced the answer is "patriarchy", to nail my colours to the mast. And, yes, I know that many of you don't know men who think like that).

UmbongoUnchained Sun 24-Apr-16 23:22:44

My husband makes me feel protected.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 24-Apr-16 23:31:49

why is it still perceived by a significant proportion of people that women without a man are lacking? Maybe that's simply still function of perceived worth being determined by the man you get?

That seems a plausible explanation of why "Mrs" is used as a title.

I don't think of my husband as a protector.

TooOldForGlitter Sun 24-Apr-16 23:43:39

I can't think of a simpler answer other than that we are constantly told that we are nothing without a man.

EBearhug Sun 24-Apr-16 23:49:15

I think you'Re right about patriarchy. But I also suspect that anyone (including those who aren't heterosexual) in a good relationship will find some protection in that, compared with being single. I say this from the position of living on my own and being aware that if I fell downstairs or had an aneurysm or anaphylactic shock or something, I'm likely to be one of those who's found after several weeks. Plus if I lost my job, there's no one to cover the bills or anything. Having a partner would make me feel less vulnerable in that way.

But man being the protector is more about fending off attackers in the street and stuff, not taking on your share of the chores and bringing you a light, nutritious chicken broth when you can't leave your sickbed. I think I've spent too many decades walking home alone to think that a man with me would make much odds.

VestalVirgin Sun 24-Apr-16 23:57:24

When you add in the rates of violence against women by men, why does this myth of men being protectors prevail?

Because it is useful for patriarchy and thus, patriarchy promotes it, or simpler: Individual men like to think of themselves as protectors, and are very protective of this status, even attacking feminists who point out that men are aggressors rather than protectors. (NAMALT, et cetera)

What women don't notice is that the only thing men ever protect us from is ... other men.

They are somewhat effective for this - in fact, even a non-existent man can offer some protection; wearing a wedding ring or claiming to have a boyfriend will help a woman get rid of a certain kind of man, i.e. the sort who respects other men's "property".

We would certainly be much safer in a world without men.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 25-Apr-16 00:00:31

But Ebearhug that is just describing some one you can rely on when things go wrong and applies in any good relationship to either party. That's not the same as being protected

VestalVirgin Mon 25-Apr-16 00:00:34

EBearhug, you don't need a relationship for those benefits, you could simply live with a friend. We do not usually share our money with friends, but ... why not?

When walking home alone, I'd much rather have a woman with me.

I have heard of women who were raped by the exact same men they asked to accompany them home for safety.

dodobookends Mon 25-Apr-16 00:04:04

We are constantly told that we are nothing without a man By whom? Sorry, I'm a bit confused by this - nobody's ever said anything like that to me personally, and I don't recall ever reading anything like that in the media either.

VestalVirgin Mon 25-Apr-16 00:08:33

Sorry, I'm a bit confused by this - nobody's ever said anything like that to me personally, and I don't recall ever reading anything like that in the media either.

Of course you rarely get the message in plain speech. It is more implied in the hundreds of books and movies that end with a woman finally getting married, thus achieving her life's ambitions.

And on a thread that is very active at the moment, someone bemoaned that "If we all broke up with men who are dicks, we'd all be single", as though being single was something unthinkable, a fate worse than death.

The point of view that being single is a very good alternative to being in a relationship with an asshole seems to be taken only by very few women, most of them to be found among feminists.

Herewegoagainfolks Mon 25-Apr-16 00:08:45

Do many women still consider men as their protectors?

I adore my DH but I don't think of him as protecting me (from what?).

He's a big bloke so technically could protect me if required I suppose but in 25 years it has never been necessary.

Financial security etc I can take care of myself!

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 25-Apr-16 01:16:17

Do romantic comedies and books not sell the idea of coupledom as humanity's ideal? Not just women's?

To be honest I think single men over the age of say 40 are probably thought of as being more odd/outsiders than single women.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Grimarse Mon 25-Apr-16 07:39:16

I think the OP has found a copy of 1954's Woman's Weekly. My newspapers and magazines are full of women achieving stuff - having careers, hiking through volcanoes, leading the NUS - shit like that.

Welcome to 2016, OP - you'll love it.

AmberGreyson Mon 25-Apr-16 08:49:35

i don't think that men are protectors

TeiTetua Mon 25-Apr-16 09:51:25

As the saying goes, "Better to be alone than wish you were".

And I think it's unspoken but obvious that a "protector" is a man who'll guard a woman against other men, for her benefit and his own. In that sense a "protector" is a "protection racket" where the tribute has to be paid for fear of harm from the one it wasn't paid to, or someone just like him.

VestalVirgin Mon 25-Apr-16 11:00:56

To be honest I think single men over the age of say 40 are probably thought of as being more odd/outsiders than single women

Perhaps by some, nowadays. The evidence that women are happier and more successful singles is just overwhelming.

Though I think there's a reason why the TV format to go with "Bachelor" is named "Bachelorette" instead of "Spinster" (This is something that has been imported from English speaking countries, is it? I shudder to think that we invented that shit - for those who successfully avoided it, it is a number of women competing for the affections of the eponymous bachelor. And then, later on, one where a number of men compete for a woman has been added)

There undoubtedly was a culture that considered women who weren't married as outsiders, and it probably has been conserved in some remote places. I often hear opinions that I thought had died out thirty years ago.

@TeiTetua: Yes, that is about it. But people never say it (well, except feminists, that is)

Grimarse Mon 25-Apr-16 11:13:40

The was an article in Saturday's Times about a new study which found that women were happier and less stressed than men after the death of their partner.

I don't know how this applies in other cultures though. There is a Japanese societal movement away from marriage and long-term relationships. A lot of young people are avoiding sex altogether;

www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex

It will be interesting to see how this pans out in 30-40 years time, and whether we see anything like this in Western Europe.

Thefitfatty Mon 25-Apr-16 11:21:45

Living in the Middle East I hear the "men as protectors" line far too often. Usually connected to some twaddle about how women are precious diamonds and they need to be protected from thieves (so men need to protect us from other men? hmm Maybe we should just get rid of the men?).

It's nonsense and horribly infantalizing.

VestalVirgin Mon 25-Apr-16 13:18:53

Grimarse, I do think this is pretty much universal in most cultures - at least everywhere where men expect women to do their emotional labour for them. Those men become very lonely very fast when their partner dies, as they never learnt how to satisfy their own emotional needs, build real friendships, etc.

While for women, the death of a husband means that a hole into which they poured a lot of energy is gone, and they now can give that time and energy to friends who give something back.

Thefitfatty, I think it is because "get rid of men" is considered unthinkable by the general public that most women never realize that we only need men to protect us because men are violent.

lorelei9here Mon 25-Apr-16 13:30:48

I don't know about the answer to your question OP

as a 40 year old single woman I feel I am constantly being given a message that men are protectors - but yes, obviously from other men. I do think men are bombarded with the message that "single is wrong" as well, but obviously for different reason.

in terms of needing protection from men - I wish I had a source for this, but once, at work, I was talking about anxiety around living alone in a house. (I currently live in a block of flats).

A colleague said to me that single women were statistically the least vulnerable to attack. Initially this surprised me but then I realised - probably the vast majority of attacks on women are from their partners. So that "statistic" might well be right.

Relatives in India were irate after the much publicised rapes because there was a suggestion of curfews for women. Of course a curfew for men would never be considered.

lorelei9here Mon 25-Apr-16 13:32:26

I forgot to say, I saw the article about widows and it doesn't surprise me in the least. I have never said it to my mother but I think that it will probably apply to her.

I am single by choice and after I finished with my last partner and said "right that's it" I was told so much shite about how I'd be lonely when I am older. I cannot imagine anything worse than heading into old age with a bloke around.

TeiTetua Mon 25-Apr-16 13:37:17

I mostly don't believe in sociobiology, but maybe over the millennia there have been lots of incidents where women removed themselves from male control, assuming that there was somewhere they could escape to. But then those women wouldn't have children, and the ones who stayed behind would, no matter how miserable their lives were. Hence perhaps it's built into the human personality that women will tolerate men. There needs to be some explanation for why over all this time, women haven't just walked out.

Kidnapped Mon 25-Apr-16 13:39:27

There's a thread on here about a recently-single woman who is being pursued by her best friend's husband.

Unfortunately, I think it is fairly common for women who come out of relationships (and therefore lack a prominent protector as such) to be seen as "fair game" for certain men.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 25-Apr-16 13:44:26

While for women, the death of a husband means that a hole into which they poured a lot of energy is gone, and they now can give that time and energy to friends who give something back

I think that is a trite, glib and dismissive statement of the grief experienced by widows and an opinion you would do well to keep to yourself when faced with a widow.

I cannot imagine anything worse than heading into old age with a bloke around

Well bully for you. And as above.

My husband is 5 years older than me and I keep better health. I expect to be a widow. If anyone were to make comments like these when it happens I would cut them out of my life.

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