The Protection Factor
Some time ago, a tweet arrived from DateMe Kenya:
Ladies! Before starting a new relationship, ask yourself Will he protect you? Will he respect you?
The idea that a man should protect a woman is a social expectation likely based on a large amount of hard-wiring in a man’s brain. It’s interesting to note that the tweet originated from an African dating website, a vastly different place than the locales from where most of my readers are ensconced. But the Tweet brings up a common theme in regards to how men and women relate, regardless of the continent and culture. Fundamentally, we’re predictable as a species. Unfortunately, contemporary social expectations too often conflict with our biologically-based behaviors. This conflict is terrifically amplified in the context of attraction and dating. This is because attraction to the opposite happens between our ears, the most private space we have.
The expectation and instinct to “protect” women fits quite nicely into hypergamy. A tall, strong man with access to resources and with the ability to charmingly influence others is a genetically attractive man because he has the power to protect. The Tweeter in Africa reinforced that with the first part of the question in the Tweet. Despite all the jawboning about feminine independence, women are frantically concerned with their security. Independence and security are often at odds. As humans, we need each other.
White knighting also fits well with that social and instinctual need to protect women. Back when the social Back when the contract between the sexes was still viable, coming the aid of a woman was perfectly reasonable even if there was risk involved for the man. But that social contract is badly broken so white knighting is a ridiculous throwback from history. But as the need to protect women has an instinctual element to it, the white knight phenomenon will continue to exist even if the woman is behaving atrociously. For example, witness the 20-something crowd in a popular nightclub and how certain girls exploit potential white knights by acting childish and immature with impunity.
There are organized efforts to exploit the urge to protect women. Bystander intervention programs are being introduced at college campuses to address the sexual assault . Such programs encourage young men to help stop sexual assaults on girls by getting involved in individual male/female interactions. The New York Times has a good story on this . Some will argue strongly that these programs are nothing more than cock-block training. But consider the upside, if Frank the freshman can save a buddy from the possibility of a false accusation by intervening at the right time, Frank is showing some serious loyalty to his buddy.
Back when I was plugged into the dating matrix, dates were a way for me to find ways to protect that particular woman through some type of assistance. But looking for protection opportunities on a date put me a in a terrible frame to generate much attraction. I instantly became a helpful older brother. That urge to protect stifled my charisma. When I suppressed that protection urge, I found that going out on dates to be a much more pleasant experience. I was enjoying the company of women and it showed. It took awhile to unplug myself but when I did, I stopped some unhealthy dating habits such as white knighting.
I urge men to be extremely circumspect when the urge to protect a woman arises, especially on dates or at live singles events. The social contract between the sexes is broken so men no longer owe their time and effort to come to the aid of some random dame in need. There is also the issue of assuming that a woman can’t take of herself. Two generations of strong and independent women have been fiercely stating that women are strong and independent. Men should listen to that and act accordingly by judging the circumstances carefully. Short of being the recipient of violence from a stranger, today’s woman can handle herself and her problems without a man’s protection. Besides, she always has the government.
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Great post, PM.
You are quite correct in that women should not expect/need random white knights to help them out of difficult situations. Arguments, shouting matches, public disagreements with her SO, etc can and should all be handled by her alone…she is an adult, after all. The only time I’d say one would be morally responsible to step in is if one sees a woman in a situation where it’s obvious she is being forced into something that she’s physically unable to get away from or would be suspicious/dangerous (example: her date puts something in her drink while she’s in the bathroom). I hasten to add that this isn’t because she’s a woman, but because she’s a person. One should absolutely do the same for men as well. I would and have helped men/boys in need despite being female, because it’s what you do when you know someone needs real assistance.
As for my own lover, I’ve said time and again that I’d gladly take a bullet for him and meant it. His life and wellbeing is just as important as my own, and I love him (of course). The fact that I have a clit and he a penis means nothing as to our worth as people or individuals.
Tarnished (above) stole my thunder. Excellent advice.
However, I have to express disgust at The Private Man’s implicit assumption that a man should intervene in a confrontation. That’s a recipe for disaster (police involvement, lawsuits, etc.) and potentially, death for the intervening man. I owe no one anything, but I WILL make a call to 911, continue to observe until the police arrive and then give them the facts. Unless imminent death is a concern, I keep my paws (and my concealed carry permit) to myself.
Thank you, kind sir.
Or should that be shark…? 😉
I’ve always been the biggest white knigth I know.
I expect to hear about a lot more cases like Kitty Genovese and a lot more effort into shaming men. It’s difficult for me to suppress my instincts to help, but in today’s society, I have to. They are all “strong and independent” women, let them take care of themselves.
These days most forms of aid to a woman promptly puts you in the friendzone, almost nothing does it quicker. The only time it works in the positive is if you physically protect her and then close the deal.
My best example of that makes me laugh to this day almost 30 years later..I was at a club and two guys decided to fight over the same girl in the parking lot after the club closed, she tried to intervene and one of the guys accidently punched her in the side of the face when she got in the way… She literally got knocked into my arms, I examined where she’d been hit like a paramedic and said ,”We’ll have to get some ice on that right away or it will bruise up bad”. She said “Where are we going to get ice at 1:00 am?”, “My place” I said….a half hour later we were in the sack…
Very valid points and ones I’ve realized for some time, even though old habits die hard. The social contract between men and women has been broken. However, the hypergamistic strategy depends on this fact being hidden from men as much as possible. So today young women are brought up to complete with men, to give them nothing, and given the opportunity, take everything they’ve got. Meanwhile young men are still being brought up as if it is still the 1950s.
Good article! I gotta start discussing some of your work on my daily podcast talk show. In the meantime, I’ve addressed aspects of your article above, that I think you and your readers might find interesting:
To “Provide & Protect…” Pt. 1
Very cool. I’ve been following you for a few years now. Since we’re in roughly the same age and gender demographic, we have a lot in common to cover.
To “Provide & Protect…” Pt. 2
Why the #YouOKSis “White Feather Campaign” failed … badly