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Jewish World Review August 1, 2000 / 29 Tamuz, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Consumer Reports

Attention feminists: How to really keep our daughters safe -- "Keeping Our Daughters Safe" was the headline of a recent column by Ellen Goodman in which she wrote that she is "struck by the difficulty our daughters still have being safe and sexual."


Goodman, it seems, is saddened that today's girls have had to learn to be "sexually literate," to "calibrate the continuum from horseplay to harassment to assault."

She found evidence for this in everything from observing young teenaged girls forced to navigate pick their way through a gauntlet of boys on the street to the 50 or so women who were recently assaulted in broad daylight in Central Park. Some of them weren't taken seriously as victims because they appeared to be "good sports" at first, before the going got quite rough, Goodman says.

Goodman suggests that the answer is in teaching our sons to read this "continuum" too. But really the problem is much bigger than that, so Goodman and her feminist sisters would do better to ask "where are all the good men who should be protecting these women?"

Hello, it's not an equal playing field out there.

As a sex, women are physically weaker and less sexually and physically aggressive than men, and so they are far more physically and sexually vulnerable than men. This is not rocket science. But it's the reason that in our culture, as in all civilized cultures, honorable men historically have felt a moral obligation to use their advantage for a good purpose, to protect women from physical danger. Especially when that danger presented itself in the form of dishonorable men.

Consider the heinous Central Park attacks. By all accounts there were scores of men (allegedly including some police officers) who were not taking part in the assaults, who greatly outnumbered the assailants, who witnessed women having their t-shirts torn off and being assaulted in other forms - and yet did absolutely nothing to help protect the women.

Talk about a continuum. This is a slippery one we've been on for more than 30 years. Women don't need a man's protection anymore, thank you very much, say The Sisters. We are women, hear us roar. So don't open doors for us; don't insult us by suggesting you walk us to our cars at night; don't hang-out nearby, Dad, when our boyfriends are visiting; learn to listen calmly to our screams as we are being raped by our captors in war (yes, that is actually part of certain American military training today); and just stand aside as we're being assaulted en masse in Central Park.

Sure, this is reading a lot into recent events. But I cannot conceive of this same attack happening 40 years ago without the good men in the crowd stopping the assaults before they even began. By the same token, if there were a Titanic sinking today, it wouldn't be "women and children" first. It would be "every man for himself."

Thankfully, our entire society has not been so coarsened. It's still true that, as federal statistics show, married women living with their husbands are far less likely to be victims of violent crime, including rape, than their single or separated sisters. The feminists don't like it, but it remains true that having the protection of an honorable man makes a woman physically safer.

Now this drives The Sisters crazy because they don't like to admit that there are inherent, and helpful, differences between the sexes. They wrongly think that makes women inferior. And they feel a man's physical protection can become an excuse for dominance in the home, in the office or on the street. Sure, that can and has happened. But isn't such abuse far more likely when men aren't taught to physically protect women? In other words, if they don't learn that their innate strength and aggressiveness is needed and should be used for something good, then it seems to me it's far more likely to be misused and turned toward something bad.

Like Goodman, I feel strongly about "keeping our daughters safe." That's why I will continue to teach my son that he has a special duty to physically protect his younger sisters, and girls in general. I want to raise him to be a man who profoundly respects women, who will gladly compete with them head to head professionally and not whine when he gets beaten; but who could not imagine standing by and doing nothing if he saw a group of them being assaulted by some hooligans in Central Park.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


07/25/00: Everything is protective: the parents, the gear, the age
07/18/00: Say it ain't so, Ann
07/11/00: Limiting a child's choices
07/06/00: Accounting for your health
06/21/00: It's a bad time to be a boy in America
06/13/00: The state of our unions
06/02/00: Federalizing care of kids
05/17/00: The natural food threat
05/09/00: To stop gun violence, keep families intact
05/03/00: Pass the fat, please
04/25/00: Something just for boys
04/18/00: When toleration goes too far
04/10/00: Women warriors
04/05/00: Confessions of a soccer mom
03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
03/14/00: Not child advocates, but self-advocates
03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
02/06/00: Harassing the harassers
01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
01/10/00: Monica may be onto something
12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
11/01/99: Welcome to Harvard pre-school
10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

© 2000, Scripps Howard News Service