Can Masculinity Be Safe?

A lot of straight women feel safer around gay men. It has felt, I’ve thought, like having a girl best friend but who can drop me home when it gets late. Yes, that’s shallow. But also, what does it say about masculinity (since straight men have led the charge on how that’s defined)? It says masculinity means it’s unsafe for women.

So why does a gay man feel safer? Because he isn’t trying to prey on my body. The subtext is that what a man wants, he takes, consent regardless. It’s safer not to anger or disappoint a man. It’s safest to not be wanted by masculinity.

How do straight women reconcile this with feeling attraction & wanting reciprocation? Affection itself feels unsafe; sex like an evil place.

Can we not expect self-control & something it’s contingent on – self-respect in men? Not in a world that says ‘boys will be boys’ & excuses their misbehaviour, teaches them that they will not be held responsible for their actions. Not when men who show compassion & consideration are shamed for it.

But women are overwhelmed by the same conditioning too. How do we make sense of a man who doesn’t make us feel unsafe? We’ve spent too long being told that attraction must feel dangerous, romance must be predatory. How do we respect a man when we’ve been taught only fear for the male gender?

I think it starts by remembering that every adult holds responsibility for their actions. That things like respect, trust, attraction happen between human beings, not gendered boxes. And that these must be earned, not assumed.


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