Women are conditioned to respond with fear in sketchy situations

Do men fear being kidnapped, raped in ways that women do?

By Katie Kohls
@KatieKohls

You have probably come across someone that just gives you an uneasy feeling. Their very presence gives you anxiety and a pit in your stomach. At time you don’t even have to see them, just their presence makes your body tense, and when you finally see them it all makes sense. I can only speak for myself and the girls I have discussed this phenomenon with, but it seems like an unfortunately common occurrence among women.

My friend and I were talking about it at dinner last week. She has this admirer who she has politely turned down in the past, but they both are in similar activities so they see each other often. She has made it clear she isn’t interested, but he hovers around her and makes her feel acutely uncomfortable. He is one of these men that give some girls that uneasy feeling. He is super nice, but for my friend, his presence is unwelcome and distracting. It has gotten to the point where a few of us have a plan to pull her away or put ourselves physically in between her and her admirer. He’s not threatening, but slightly creepy, so we do our best to keep the distance between the two.

She was telling me more about this and obviously bothered by this common occurrence, and two of my guy friends started joking about it. I don’t think they realized how much it truly bothered her, but they seemed to brush off her fear and uneasiness like it was nothing. It made me wonder, do males get this seemingly innate feeling of anxiety whenever a sketchy male is around? Are we, as girls, conditioned to respond with fear around some men? Is it a preservation tactic to avoid becoming a victim?

In high school, I was working by myself. A customer walks in and my back was to the door. My body tensed and I felt really uncomfortable. I turned around, and it was an unassuming guy. He bought his stuff and left soon after, and I scolded myself for feeling anxious over nothing. I later went home, and told my mom about my reaction. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me.

She said very earnestly, “If that ever happens again, take it seriously, we react that way for a reason.”

I was taken aback. Wasn’t I supposed to be friendly to everyone, and assume the best in them? As I grew older, and those feelings came most often in sketchy situations and I became more aware of the potential harm of being a female, I realized that it was some part of my body alerting me to potential danger and to be alert.

I know I am not the only female who this is a semi-common occurrence, but I am curious about men. Do they ever have that fear of being raped? Abducted? Killed? The murder is the extreme, but they all kind of go together. I know I am hyper aware when I leave work after midnight. I’ve called friends before to come by the parking lot when sketchy cars are there or I

have a customer who makes me feel uneasy that late. I try to avoid calling the police to swing by but I will if I feel I have to.  I feel silly because nothing has ever happened, but there is that real fear. Do men fear any of this? I want to know, but I have a strong feeling that it is a lot rarer for boys.

Is there anything we can do about this? I don’t really know. I know many times the men that give me this feeling are perfectly cordial and friendly. Sometimes they are creeps that make unwanted advances, stare at you, or look you up down like they’re sizing-up something. Overall though, they don’t do anything bad and I doubt many intend to. Being a creep isn’t against the law. It’s uncomfortable, but as long as you’re not stalking or harassing someone there’s not much someone can do.

It’s very frustrating because men (and women) can be super creepy and we just have to put up with it. People can try to put distance between my friend and her admirer. I can call people to watch my back. But living your life around people gets exhausting and very irritating. I don’t know of the solution to this problem if there is one. I’m guessing there isn’t unless they threaten your rights. I just hope though that all of us have good friends willing to help us out when we need it, and that all of our anxiety of this kind is undeserved at the end of the night.

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