Can We Please Stop Saying Men Are Protectors Of Women?

Modern women don’t require protection; they require partnership and love.

Woman holding a delicate flower much like men see 'females' as Văn Thắng,  Leonardo Monteiro, Tatabrada | Canva 

Have you ever had a moment where things clicked for you? For me, it was when I heard a friend of mine, Dobie*, define what racketeering is. This all happened when I was trying to help Dobie get a legitimate job.

At the time, I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t hire him at the bank that was desperately hiring because of his RICO charge. I mean, he was great at counting money. I never saw anyone count as fast as he did.


He looked at me like I was stupid then said, "It’s racketeering." Me, being stupid and young, "So … uh … yeah, what’s that?"

Dobie shook his head and said, "Okay, so let’s say that you have this business. It’s a flower business. You open up shop, then you have some customers come in. The customers say that this is a rough neighborhood, yeah? They happen to run the security company next door. They want you to pay them dues. Otherwise, you never know what might happen if they don’t get paid," he said, making a gun gesture with his hands.


"Oh, so like, if you don’t pay them, bad stuff happens?"

He facepalmed. "Yeah. Racketeering is a gang charge, Ossiana. Ain’t no one going to hire me in a bank." It was then that I realized I was an idiot and was sending Dobie on a fool’s errand trying to get him a job at a bank. Things began to make a lot more sense after that.

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This was a teaching moment in more than one way.

You know, not for nothing, but the older I get, the more I notice odd parallels between the underground street life I lived and mainstream "legal" life. Such is the case with racketeering.

The older I get, the more I realize that there are a lot of things that people are pressured to "buy into" or face getting a proverbial brick through the window.

The biggest ones I’ve noticed are religion, purity culture, and dating.


Religion is obvious. You either join Church X and abide by their rules, or you suffer shunning. In parts of the country, not being in the right church basically acts as a life-ruiner.

Purity culture is basically the same thing, minus a specific religion. This is all about the whole, "Shut up, keep your legs closed, be chattel, raise men’s kids, and die," life. Not agreeing with this is socially risky in many parts of America.

Then … there’s dating.

Whenever I hear a man say he’s a "protector of women," I think of Dobie’s talk.

Hear me out: Dobie was a decent guy to me. Most of the time, our days were spent with me baking him cookies, advising him on his girlfriend's woes (I told him to leave her! He deserved better!), and trying to help him earn a real living.


Dobie, until he vanished, was like a big brother to me. He was the type of guy who was a big ol’ teddy bear — with tattoos, a fancy car, and the ability to get amazing liquor regardless of the time of day. Oh, and he always was such a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies.

Dobie was awesome. I just couldn’t imagine him being anything other than a scary-looking sweetheart. I mean, he even cried during Wreck-It Ralph. He was sensitive!

In many situations, he did protect me. But you know what he never, ever did? He never mentioned protecting me. Do you know why? Because that term is something he links to racketeering — and it’s something I do, too.

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If you look at the men who claim they’re "protectors of women," you’ll notice a lot of racketeering behaviors.

Classic racketeering can only happen when a person is being forced to pay for a "service" they don’t want, under duress. Racketeering is about making people do things to protect themselves from the blowback of the people claiming to "protect them."

It’s really messed up that men call themselves protectors when they’re protecting women from other men. That’s like hiring the mob to protect you from the mob. For many (not all) men, that protection is conditional on your submission to them.

A lot of men I’ve seen on online dating platforms will say that they "respect and would protect" their girlfriends, but the moment you reject them, you start hearing things the most vile things come out of their mouths. Yeah. Really protective there, buckos.

When I hear a man say that he’s "protecting" me from other men, I automatically assume that he would lash out if a woman "stepped out of line" with him. In truth, that isn’t protection. That’s extortion, and it’s time we see it as such.


Modern women don’t require protection; they require partnership and love.

Can we please stop acting like women are made out of porcelain? Please!? Weapons are a thing and we have the right to use them in self-defense. If I wanted to feel protected, I’d buy a gun and a big dog. Or, I’d call the police.

Statistically speaking, women are most likely to be killed by an intimate partner. Women take a massive chance on men, just by dating and sleeping with them. The fact that women are told to marry a man to protect them from other men reads really fishy to me.

Not for nothing, but I also want to point out that most men who have said that they’re about protecting women don’t do anything when women need protecting. That includes dads who claim they’d shoot their daughter’s assaulters, by the way.

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The men who tend to be the safest to be around are the ones who don’t even bring it up — like Dobie. They just do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Much like the big kid in school who protected the kid in the wheelchair from bullies, they do it because they know they can help those in need.

For the record, men like Dobie rule.

In reality, most women will be perfectly fine if they own a gun, taser, or pepper spray. Women don’t want to have a protector. They want to have a partner who can help pitch in with chores, bills, and emotional labor. They want a man who wants them to have equal rights and more.


So, let’s not pretend that this racket works, okay? Women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to physical safety. Submission doesn’t mean anything in this society either. The jig is up. Maybe it’s time men stop acting like they are protectors and start acting like partners.

Just saying. Most women would be all about that partner life. No racketeering required.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.