In Honor of International Women’s Day

I wanted to take a moment to express appreciation for the women in our lives. We are surrounded by women who deserve recognition for what they do for us. They gave birth to us, enduring immense pain in childbirth. They fed us from their bodies, went without sleep, and sacrificed countless days and nights to ensure we would grow into people capable of standing on our own against life’s challenges. There are those who are always there to support us, to hug and hold us, and those who feed us when we are hungry.

Among all this, many of them are busy making the world a better, more equal, and more wonderful place.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to the amazing women in my life and also to explain to my fellow men (as a brother to three sisters) how I understand the world looks through a woman’s lens.

I imagine a scenario where an alien from another planet lands on Earth with a mission to understand human life. This alien decides to interview two average people, a man, and a woman, asking them about their daily life experiences, their sense of safety in public spaces, views of social interactions like dating, and even in seemingly safe activities like walking down the street. I’m sure this alien would find curious the precautions men and women take to feel secure when stepping out of their homes.

Our alien friend might be shocked to realize that despite living on the same planet Earth, these two humans seem to inhabit entirely different worlds.

The stark differences in how men and women experience life are apparent in many aspects. For instance, many women constantly navigate the threat of harassment. This could range from unwelcome comments to more direct physical intimidation. To counter these threats, women often take various precautions, like walking near walls or doors to avoid surprise approaches and being extra careful about their appearance to minimize attention.

On the flip side, as a man, I can say that these fears don’t often cross my mind. The thought of changing my outfit for safety reasons or worrying about the implications of my physical proximity to others seldom occurs to me. A simple, disapproving look is usually all it takes to address any uncomfortable encounters. The considerations that occupy a man’s mind – from hairstyle to the fit of our clothes – rarely stem from concerns about personal safety, a privilege not extended to women.

Many women adopt strategies to appear busy – like talking on the phone or listening to music – as a deterrent against unwanted advances. However, this can also distract them from their surroundings, potentially slowing their reactions to real threats. Men, meanwhile, are advised to stay alert in public spaces, but this advice is generally framed around general safety, and not specifically avoiding harassment.

This contrast highlights a deeper societal issue: the need for women to significantly alter their lifestyles for their safety. Strategies for navigating public transportation are a prime example. Women tend to plan their travel meticulously, from choosing specific travel times to sitting close to the driver or moving in groups, all to mitigate fears of harassment or violence. Men, although they may also feel unsafe at times, typically don’t face the same level of threat based on their gender or appearance.

Preparing for a first date can illustrate this gender divide even further. Women often share detailed plans with friends, choose public meeting places carefully, and remain vigilant about attention to their drinks to avoid being drugged. In contrast, most men approach dates with a straightforward attitude, focusing on making a good impression and hoping for a positive outcome.

Beneath these external differences lies a profound disparity in the emotional landscapes of men and women, shaped by a mix of biological, psychological, and societal factors. Hormonal influences, such as higher levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men, play a significant role in shaping our emotional expressiveness and processing. This can lead to women generally displaying more empathy, while men may exhibit a more reserved emotional response.

Moreover, these biological differences are amplified by societal expectations and norms, which dictate how men and women should behave and express their emotions. Women are often encouraged to be open and empathetic, while men are taught to be stoic and self-reliant, affecting each gender and how they perceive and react to emotional situations and threats.

Women’s stronger emotional memory and greater aptitude for recognizing emotions in others contrast with men’s tendency to adopt a “fight or flight” response in stressful situations. This “tend and befriend” approach in women versus the more confrontational or avoidance strategies in men underscores the varied ways in which we navigate our worlds, influenced by an intricate web of biological, psychological, and societal threads.

These structural and emotional differences between genders not only shape how we perceive threats but also influence our entire approach to life and our interactions with the world around us. It’s a broad statement, but it’s crucial for understanding the nuanced experiences that define the everyday realities of men and women.

Ending on a note that’s both a wish and the mission of Krav Maga Experts: Imagine a world where every woman can walk in peace, be herself, explore, love, and travel without a shadow of fear, and with all the respect she deserves. Let’s stop imagining and start working towards making this a reality. Equality should mean safety, too, not just income and rights.

We might not be able to prevent all bad things from happening, but we can surely be more prepared. It’s about encouraging women to stay vigilant and training them to be safer. Maybe not fearless, but with fear – less. Amen.

Do something amazing,

Tsahi Shemesh
Krav Maga Experts

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *