Monday, August 31, 2009

Sex and Fear, Part 2

Yesterday I noted that men fear more what their wives fear. In thinking further about this idea, I made a connection back to something I learned from Steven Stosny last year: we get angry not to protect ourselves, but to protect our loved ones. In fact, responding to things that threaten us with anger is often more dangerous than if we ran away. We have to get angry in order to stay and fight, even if it endangers ourselves. Why would be do that? To protect our loved ones.

I usually take the world's shocks philosophically, or with sadness. The things that make me mad are more likely to be threats to my family, and by extension, my community. The same applies, I realize, to the things I fear in an emotional way. I can work around dangers to myself calmly, if they can be avoided. But I can feel fear for my children far away, because I can't work around the things that might endanger them. I have to rely on their good sense and safety-making social structures.

That men would feel fear for their loved ones more than for themselves is a corollary of the socially healthy tendency of men to protect women and children. But it also means that fearful men are more likely to damage others if they think that doing so is a righteous way to protect their loved ones.

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