Women are taught they’re at risk, especially when they live alone, but there’s a fine line between healthy caution and not trusting men.
Something happened the other night that made me aware of how women take extra security steps to protect their personal safety — steps that many men can’t imagine taking for themselves.
It came about like this: I picked up a guy friend to go out to dinner at a new restaurant in West Hollywood. As we were driving, I asked him if I should put my car registration in my purse so the valet parking attendant wouldn’t find it in the glove compartment.
“What?” he asked, incredulous.
“Well, I’ve heard they can do that. They (those “bad men” out there) will copy down your address, make a copy of your house key (despite there being 20 keys on mine), come to your house and just let themselves in.”
His response: “You are so paranoid!”
OK — maybe that was a bit over the top. However, I do believe that women, especially single women living alone, have been taught to constantly run their “anti-predator software” in the background. Similar to how Norton Anti-Virus runs on a laptop, our personal-safety detector is always on, scanning for potential threats. It’s usually so subtle that men don’t realize we’re making silent mental notations: window open — danger. Door unlocked — danger. Walking to car at night in deserted underground parking lot — definite danger.
I once had a boyfriend I drove nuts with my habit of constantly flipping the deadbolt on my front door. We’d go out to work in the garden, I’d come in and automatically lock the door behind me, leaving him locked out — not just once, but over and over. He finally had to develop his own habit: take a key whenever he stepped outside.
Just the other day I was hiking alone in Pacific Palisades. As I walked up the deserted trail, a scruffy-looking man appeared, walking toward me with one arm behind his back. Warning! Why was his arm behind his back? What was in his hand? I finally stopped and waited for him to walk by, my heart racing. He passed, saying hello, and I saw that the reason his arm was behind his back was to hold his backpack steady. Sigh of relief.
It’s too bad, but we women have grown up learning to be cautious of men. It started with our parents and schoolteachers, and is reinforced by “if it bleeds, it leads” news media and “women in peril” movies. Just look at the Lifetime channel with its lineup of programming about women trying to escape from dangerous men. Which also begs the question: why is this so entertaining?
But it’s not just anti-male paranoia. It’s a statistical fact that gender is the single best predictor of criminal behavior, with men committing far more criminal acts than women. (Crimes committed by females account for 20 percent of the total ― although the gap is narrowing.)
The media hype and the reality of this situation has created a fear-based condition that makes it difficult for women to relax and experience a positive relationship with men they haven’t learned to trust yet. And it’s even more so when you’re a single woman living alone. We really do keep the radar running and exercise caution — but there’s a fine line between prudent concern and paralyzing fear.
So guys, have patience — it’s just the world we women live in. Realize we have that “software” running in our heads and take actions to show us we’re safe with you.
And women, just as most emails don’t carry a computer virus, most men mean us no harm. Let’s not let the few bad ones keep us from enjoying the wonderful masculine energy that men bring to our lives.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.