Women Feel Unsafe And It Is Our Fault

“We have to take responsibility for what we are not responsible for.”

~ Robert Moore ~

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In 2013, I attended a large workshop with 2000-ish people, about half men and women.

One day, the facilitator asked this question of the men: “Men, raise your hand if you have felt unsafe at any point during the last week.” Maybe 5 hands went up, of a thousand men.

Then he asked the same question of the women: “Ladies, how many of you have felt unsafe at any time during the last week?

A thousand female hands shot up, while men looked around shocked at the revelation.

Our women feel unsafe, constantly … and yes, it’s the fault of Men. All of us.

I write a lot about masculine awakening, what I’m discovering it means to be a mature healthy masculine man in the 21st century. Women, for the most part, love what I write. They’re aching for the mature man my blogs describe. Men, though, are sometimes triggered by what I write.

Some men feel I’m shaming men; that I’m an anti-man feminist sympathizing misandrist who blames all men (even the “good” ones) for women’s dysfunctions and that I excuse women from all responsibility.

The plain truth is, I write because I’m a man who’s been disoriented for 20 years, and as that realization awakens in me I look out and see an entire world of disorientated men and women struggling to thrive.

But I’m not into shaming men. I’m not into shaming anybody.

However, I do believe in taking responsibility for our role in the reality we’re living. And the reality we live in is women routinely feel unsafe in our society; they are constantly subject to behavior from men that devalues their worth as human beings with something meaningful to offer the planet beyond male sexual release and motherhood.

Women are unsafe and aggressed upon because so many men are stuck in a perpetual adolescence.

As a male culture, we haven’t yet fully achieved the mature experience of our masculine nature. Too many men still demean “girls” by pulling on their pigtails, bullying and hitting them, tricking them into showing their boobs and calling them bad names. They just do it now wearing business suits and NFL uniforms, drinking beer instead of kool-aid.

I know many good men don’t treat women this way. But it’s common enough that the majority of women experience it all the time, from our city streets to college dorms to US Congress.

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women violence

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There’s another fascinating reason women routinely feel unsafe:

Too many men haven’t learned to connect their innate masculine aggression to their hearts.

I wrote a popular article recently about how I grew up believing women were only afraid of aggression in men, so I suppressed any experience of aggression in myself, especially sexual aggression. I did not want women to ever feel unsafe around me. While this enabled me to cultivate beautiful friendships with women, in disowning the primal aggression inherent in my masculinity, I also left women to fend for themselves in many ways.

I believe we don’t stand up for women enough. Culturally. Individually. On TV. At work. In our conversations with other men.

I know the male voice isn’t completely missing. I know the men reading this are probably the good ones.

But I’m also one of the “good ones” and I’ve stayed quiet knowing certain male acquaintances would act terribly towards women, unconsciously content in knowing at least I wasn’t the one acting badly.

The evolved masculine nature can be an aggressive force for good.

When connected to heart, the mature masculine essence (which is not just a man thing, as women can express masculine energy, too) fights aggressively for the well-being of all beings inside the kingdom. It protects its charges from the forces of chaos and ruin lurking outside the castle walls.

The mature masculine man (or masculine woman) doesn’t disconnect from his innate aggression, nor does he wield it for purely self-serving means. The mature masculine man infuses his aggression with love, using that power to enrich the greater good.

For thousands of years our more “civilized” cultures have been expressing this aggressive aspect of masculine force in overwhelmingly destructive ways, disconnected from heart, as oppressor, denier, abuser, exploiter, conquerer. As this immature Lord of the Flies era continues to play out on a planetary scale, our immature masculine nature runs amok, expressing in abundance the entire range of perverted masculine behaviors that destroy our feminine counterparts, from kidnapping them in African villages to sexualizing them in our offices to beating them up in elevators.

Comedian Louis CK brilliantly points out that men are the number one threat to women:

WOMAN TO A MAN: “Yeah, I’ll go out with you … alone … at night … I’ll get in your car with you, with my little shoulders. Hi, where are we going?’”… MAN: “To your death, statistically.”

The classic book on masculine archetypes, King Warrior Magician Lover, is about the evolution in males from the “boy psychology” to “man psychology.” They say this about man psychology:

“Man psychology … has perhaps always been a rare thing on our planet. It is certainly a rare thing today. The horrible physical and psychological circumstances under which most human beings have lived most places, most of the time, are staggering. Hostile environments always lead to the stunting, twisting, and mutating of an organism. … Let us frankly admit the enormous difficulty of our situation, for it is only when we allow ourselves to see the seriousness of any problem and to admit what it is we are up against that we can begin to take appropriate action, action that will be life-enhancing for us and for others.”

I’m writing this article because this morning I spoke with a strong female coaching client of mine in San Francisco who melted into tears relating recent stories of daily harassment at the greedy hands of men. Not just your cliche construction workers, but co-workers, colleagues, men at networking events, and even a casual male friend she didn’t trust to have in her home because he was always testing her with his sexual agenda. And she’s no passive pushover woman who can’t handle herself – though why should she have to “handle herself” at all?

Despite our advanced modern technologies, so many modern men are the modern product of ages of warped and twisted masculine expression.

Fox TV regular, Arthur Aidala, in a recent segment on sexual harassment in Congress, proudly demonstrated his technique for “complementing” women on the street by standing up and clapping as an imaginary woman walked by. He says his “smile success rate” is 90%. My coaching client pointed out – as did Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams – that women smile because they know if they don’t give such a man what he clearly wants (attention, acknowledgment) there’s a high likelihood he’ll get nasty and call them a cunt. Aidala’s “success rate” relies on a woman’s survival tactic.

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arthur aidala clapping

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Oh, the woeful ignorance of such men.

I grew up surrounded by women. Throughout my life I have heard their stories, and the stories of my girlfriends and female friends, about the demeaning behavior of male colleagues, bosses, friends, strangers, dates, and even their own intimate partners.

The authors of King Warrior Magician Lover also remind us that we must learn to take responsibility for that which we are not responsible for. It does innocent men no good to simply rest in the comfort of knowing they’re not the perpetrators. It is our close male friends, our brothers, our fathers, our sons, and even many of us blind to our own behavior, who are making life distasteful to women on a daily basis. Our joking approval, even our silence, in conversations with each other only perpetuates women’s suffering.

I do not wish men shame. I know women demean men, too; they also have their growing up to do.

Still, it’s on men to confront our own masculine disorientation, to explore where we are stuck in boy psychology – or trapped in the dark shadow aspects of man psychology, which is to say, living as men disconnected from heart. Our unwillingness to face our own selves, whether or not we’re acting in these demoralizing ways to women, keeps our world twisted and stunted, and keeps our women feeling unsafe even in the presence of so many “safe” men.

We must learn to use our innate masculine aggression as a constant force for good, lest we leave our women to fend for themselves in a world that still disrespects them daily.

We must study and explore and work authentically with other men to uncover what it means to be mature masculine men.

We must each do the inner work necessary to claim our 21st century Manhood, to create a world for our women in which they can finally feel safe.

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  • Wow Brian, I was just talking about this with a male friend yesterday. He is newly single again and the hunting grounds where he is are good and plentiful. He is ‘getting some’ a lot and as he claims being a man whore. Ok, sounds like a lot of fun for him. Sometimes I feel like I would like to let loose and do the same, only there is a problem with a woman doing that… First and foremost is safety. My first thought when engaging with a man on any level is can I trust this person? My self protective mechanism keeps me from being open and carefree with men. But you see I don’t want to be scared. I feel like I have to be.
    My first sexual experience with a man was a date rape. I without any hesitation told him I did not want to have sex with him. I guess that meant I did want to have sex with him because at the age of 14 and completely sober my virginity was stolen from me by an 18 year “boy” who I thought I could trust. After the decision of when I wanted to lose my virginity was taken away from me I “went wild”. I slept with anybody I kissed. I figured if I didn’t I was a tease or maybe deep down I thought I would end up having sex with them whether I wanted to or not. I don’t really know. Because I freely gave myself after that I couldn’t be raped again. It was my decision.

    I finally settled down and got married. I was with a wonderful man who I thought respected and honored me. I trusted him completely. But when he got drunk this “nice guy” would tell me how worthless I was because All I did was manage a household, take care of him and our two children. He went so far as to say he owned me and everything I had and have and that without him I would never survive. The emotional toll that took on me still hurts 14 years later. He is an alcoholic who would rather drink than talk to or have sex with his wife so I divorced him. When he drinks he says what’s on his mind and doesn’t apologize the next day or ever. He seems to think that by being drunk it excuses his behavior.

    After my divorce I met “Mr. Wonderful”. It was love at first sight for me. I met him at a restaurant,gave him my business card and he emailed me. We sat down to talk and he was amazing. He was such a good man, loves his daughter and his pets so much. He has such a good heart and soul. We seemed to connect on a level I’ve never experienced before. Before I even realized it, I was head over heels “In love” And this was only our first date. Toward the end of the date I said “you are too good to be true. And even though there was no wedding ring and no demarcation where one should’ve been I asked the dreaded question.” Are you married?” A simple “yes” was his reply. Confusion ensued for the next year and a half with me wanting needing and deserving more but being so in love with this man I was willing to see him whenever he beckoned. He cared about me in some respects. I knew he did. But he also treated me like a prostitute. The simple act of asking someone out while married is deceit. That lie lead to the most shattered me I have ever known. I know we all have our experiences teach us and help us to grow but, ouch this hurts.
    I am now single and to be honest scared. I’ve been on dating sites, googled men to find out if they are really who they say they are. I reverse look up numbers. I look up criminal records, the company rosters for the companies they say they work for. I check linked in and facebook. I am not a stalker. I am not crazy. I am scared. I am careful to the point of being paralyzed to date.

    I have had male friends who think that because you are talking to them and treating them like a friend they have permission to try to have sex with you. I specifically recall one night when I was talking to a friend about a business venture I am interested in starting. He is a financial wiz and connected to people who could help and fund my project. He invited me back to his place to continue discussing business. I came right out and said “I am not interested in you sexually and do not want you to take this the wrong way. I will go to your place to talk business but that is it. I do not want to have sex with you.” I was very straightforward. He then drove me back to his place. Within three seconds of being there he kissed me and proceeded to chase me around his house. I kept his dog as close to me as possible for protection. I realized the guy was tipsy so didn’t want him to drive me home but finally the fear of being raped overcame the fear of getting in a car wreck and I asked him to drive me home.

    Since then I have dated one person. He’s a decent person most of the time but he is also inconsiderate and lies. I was not able to connect with him and open up to him fully when engaged with him sexually because I never fully trusted him.

    My most recent encounter with a man was a friend. We, as a group of friends all joke around about sex. Well, he had had oh, probably a bottle of wine and decided that he wanted to talk to me outside. He proceeded to kiss me without warning, Drunk, tasting like smoke It actually was depressing. He was a friend. Not so much anymore. I keep my distance.
    I am a warm, friendly, nice, kind, funny, charismatic person. I enjoy talking to and joking around with people. Should this make me an automatic target for sexual advances? While flattering in some respects it is also scary. I feel like I can’t be friends with men anymore. And I LOVE MEN.

    I want a man who I connect with intellectually, spiritually, sexually, one who I can trust completely. I want to be with a man who uses his power to protect me and make me feel like a woman, A man who makes me feel loved like I deserve to feel, One that I can open up to completely without fear or reserve. I man who makes me feel whole and alive secure and confident, protected, sexual, attractive, beautiful and loved. And I want to be with a man who I can make feel the same way.
    One day I will meet this man and until then I can only assume there is much more I need to learn and experience before I am ready for him.
    Thanks for writing this article.

  • Just thank you. Thank you Bryan. I appreciate all you say in your posts, but it is the tone of that which you write, from a place of gentle, inate wise love and compassion that moves me more deeply than your words. It is that tone that I recognise as really fully human and where, though we will never probably meet, we meet.

  • Excellent post… You know, it is when the fathers start teaching the sons how to act appropriately that things will change. As long as dads are telling sons to “stop crying and man up” they are teaching them to be more aggressive.

    I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who constantly stresses to our boys the importance of treating girls well, that it is never OK to hit a girl, to speak in a derogatory manner, etc. Somehow coming from him instead of me makes it even more powerful…

  • I left something out. I don’t drink. I for one, won’t drink and drive and two feel like if I drink I will be letting my guard down for a man to be able to take advantage of or hurt me. So I am always the sober one. So none of these encounters were because I was under the influence.

  • I agree with pretty much all you say, although I have never thought that men, or even boys, are innately aggressive.

    Masculine energy is about action, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this action must be aggressive; the urge to dominate, control, intimidate or otherwise be aggressive is very much a learned behavior that is so pervasive throughout the world that we believe it’s just a fact of life. A natural part of us.

    I think the actual number of people (male or female) who are truly inherently aggressive, as a personality trait, is quite low. The trick then is how to help men unlearn the culturally condoned “right” to act out aggressively in favour of taking considered, mindful action instead.

    • “Aggression” has a negative connotation to it. It doesn’t have to, though. They say, “boys bond bloody.” … there is something inherently competitive and driven in the masculine nature that serves us well to cut through obstacles in the accomplishments of our mission. That proactive force (which I’m calling aggression though without the negative connotation of it) is inherent in anyone with a masculine essence.

      I’m pointing out that there are completely healthy ways of expressing that aggression, and that when men disconnect from that “innate aggressive force” altogether, out of some desire to not do harm, that we actually do harm by emotionally castrating ourselves.

      I agree we need more men acting in considered, mindful action. But not at the expense of castrating our emotional experience, which includes the internal fires that fuel our aggression. We’d just do well to infuse that aggression with connection to heart that it may do more good than indiscriminate harm. … That’s my thoughts on it, anyway, after a lifetime of being scared of my own capacities for aggression.

  • Super important topic. We live in a society and planet that is imbalanced and sick. In chinese medicine when one energy (masculine ‘yang’ or feminine ‘yin’) dominates in our body we become sick. The crutch that is dominant in our society of a masculine desire to control and have power over countries, groups of people, women, money etc etc.. needs to be blasted (in a non-war like manner perhaps) into oblivion. Perhaps what you suggest of male aggressiveness (& destructiveness) being anchored in the heart is what can transform this energy and our planet. The survival of our planet depends on it.

    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks for your comment. I love your suggestion to blast into oblivion immature masculine behavior “in a non-war like manner perhaps.” Funny. I agree we must evolve beyond this orientation, and I think it will happen by humanity both embracing feminine ways of expressing life AND learning to express a more mature masculine way of being. The THRIVING of humanity definitely depends on it!

    • I wonder if so many feminine women have learned to “man up” because too many men don’t. …. It’s not a bad thing. We should all develop our full range of feminine/masculine energies. But so many women clearly want to be able to relax into the safety created by a mature masculine presence that they don’t have to generate themselves.

  • Its not “man up” Bryan, its called confidence and self direction. You can never make the world pain free. The people who choose not to allow the world to dictate who and what they are get that. The others unfortunately want the world to conform to their victimhood. You do realize there is a big difference between being victimized and being a victim, right? The great thing about life though is that we all see it slightly different. Like you I think we should bring the best that we can be. Unlike you I dont think its my job to do that for the women in my life.

    • I obviously don’t precisely know what orientation you’re coming from. I agree it’s great seeing strong women in the world. I grew up with two of them for mothers. But I also spent 20 years expecting my intimate partners to simply take care of themselves, to make themselves feel safe and not make me responsible for their happiness. To some degree that’s still a healthy orientation I believe. However, I’ve been completely missing out on showing up for the women in my life in ways that align with what I’m discovering it means to be a healthy mature masculine man. That has cost me dearly, and in retrospect I see it cost them dearly, too. That’s what I know right now. Always subject to change.

      • And that is a good way to be as it is important for you in your life. I have a little challenge with the way you write though because it seems to imply that all men must follow your views or they are not “good” men. One size does not fit all. Go back and read the title of your post and just imagine what most healthy men(like me) might think of it and then imagine how much more of a reaction youre probably going to get from the unhealthy men. Like the one’s that were not protected by their fathers OR mothers.
        Oh and by the way, I was raised by a single mother. I am a husband of an incredibly strong woman and I have a powerful and competent teenage daughter also.

  • Articles such as this one always fascinate me. I grew up with a violent, philandering father. My mother was always passive, and seemed to be quietly waiting to be abused/cheated on again. My first husband was much like my father, but I’m the opposite of my mother. The first time my ex slapped me, I gave him a black eye with my foot–I’d learned karate–and told him if he ever hit me again, I’d kill him. My tolerance for infidelity is below zero.

    For years, I was like the boxing woman in the picture. Not looking for a fight, but not one to take any crap from a man either. Men who cat-called or whistled got confronted and into submission themselves. I learned that few things are as intimidating to the “verbal and visual rapists” as a direct confrontation, looking them in the eyes, and relating to them as an adult person, not a helpless victim.

    One guy brushed my butt with his hand standing in a Subway line. I immediately whirled around and dared him to try touching me from the front. He acted shocked that a “nice girl like you would make a scene over an accidental brush.” In return he got some colorful language and a threat to “‘accidentally’ kick your balls” if he dared “accidentally” touch me again. His hands went into surrender position, and he walked out. To my astonishment, several women commented, “Wish I had the guts to do that.” That was when I was about 37 or 38 (and often mistaken for a high school “girl”).

    Then I met my husband of nearly 20 years, the love of my life. His masculine gentleness has gradually convinced me that I didn’t need to project toughness to survive. I’m still perfectly capable of defending myself, but seldom feel the need to show that toughness to anyone. Now, at nearly 60, I am seeing more and more that the true power of women lies in our gentleness. The world cries for the soothing influence of the feminine. While women do need to be independent, able to defend themselves, and also immunized against the head games that jerks play, (“It was only a JOKE, don’t you have a sense of humor? Geez!”), we need to feel secure enough to be feminine. CEOs, judges, lawyers, doctors, construction workers, all can be tough and capably independent, yet feminine.

  • When women feel unsafe, I think they are mainly attributed to two reasons: one is the external environment that makes people feel unsafe, the other is the psychological problems that cause them to feel unsafe. Whatever the reason, I think this is affecting the status of men and women in society. We can not deny that the average physical fitness of men is higher than that of women, which can be an advantage and a crisis. It suggests that a woman may be hurt by a man, but this statement is not comprehensive, although it often happens. Men are a very changeable period in adolescence, and women are the same. This is a time when people begin to explore different periods. For women, reasonable self-protection is very necessary during puberty, but this does not mean that it can avoid injury, just reduce injury. More importantly, men should learn to control themselves and be correct.

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