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Men should be protecting women

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"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." Huh?

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 teenage girls forced to 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 in New York. 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 the differences make 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.

Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by e-mail at: mailtohart@aol.com