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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