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Scared of Men

Yesterday I read a post about the relationships between men and women in today’s society.  The post was written by Meizac, blogger whom I had never read before and it talks very candidly about rape, assault, victim blaming, and more. It was powerful, and for me it touched something deep down.  When it comes down to it, and I mean really down to it, I am scared of men.

It doesn’t make sense on the outside: I am a strong woman, I am married to a respecting and loving man, I am a student in a professional college, pursuing a career that demands respect.  Why should I be afraid of men?

Today I went for a massage.  I had a male masseuse.  I knew I had booked a massage with a man because I bought a groupon for the massage and it clearly specified that the massage was only good with one therapist.  I almost didn’t buy the groupon for that reason.  But then I told myself, “that’s stupid, it’s his job to massage people.”  I didn’t think about it again until today, when I walked into the room for my massage.

It was a small room in a quiet hallway – him and his partner rent the room from a dance studio.  It was the middle of the day so it was pretty quiet… not many people around.  Instantly I was nervous.  He introduced himself to me; he made eye contact; he was friendly.  Any other female masseuse and I would have been fine and comfortable.  I filled out the necessary paperwork, he asked me what areas I wanted him to work on and then he told me to make myself comfortable on the bed.  Take your clothes off, lay face down on that bed, be comfortable.

I second guessed my decision to take off my underwear for the massage.  I have been for many, many massages before and I always take off my underwear because I like having my gluteals massaged.  Again, I told myself: “Don’t be stupid… This is his job…

I got on the bed, covered myself with the sheet and waited.  It seemed like a long time before he came back and the whole time my mind was wandering.  Here I am, naked under this sheet, face down, some guy that I’ve never met before is going to come into the room and start touching me.  We are alone in a room at the end of a quiet hallway. Fuck. Why am I here?  What was I thinking?

He came into the room and I could hear him fumbling around.  He was wearing a zip-up sweater over his uniform and I heard him start to unzip it.  Now he’s taking his clothes off too.  I faked to scratch my face just to look up.  Sure enough, he was taking off his sweater and hanging it on the door.  His back was to me so he couldn’t see that I was watching him.  He strapped on his massage oil holster and then rubbed some oil in his hands.  I settled myself down.  He started the massage.  He asked me about the weather.  We talked a little about life.  An hour passed and nothing happened… Just a massage.

My initial instinct was to think that this man was going to assault me, or rape me, or hurt me in some other way.  Why?

Maybe it’s for the same reason that I’ve never had a male doctor… at least since I was a kid.  Or maybe it’s the reason why we are taught in medical school to offer women the option of a chaperone for sensitive examinations (and men, you better be thinking ahead and just have a female nurse ready to accompany you into the room if you’re planning on examining a woman)…  There is even a sentence in our obs/gyn clinical notes that says:

Be sure to wear gloves at all times while performing a pelvic exam.  Wearing gloves is not only necessary for hygiene, but also because touching with a gloved hand reminds the woman that the touch is not sexual in nature.


I’ve only ever had one pelvic exam done by a man.  It was in the emergency room.  I was in a lot of pain and they thought I could have appendicitis, but they needed to rule out gynecological causes.  The nurse came in and told me that the doctor would be doing a pelvic exam and she assured me that she would be there the whole time.  The guy was really nice.  He was respectful.  He was professional.  He told me that the nurse was there to assist him and to ensure my comfort. She was there because he was a man and he was about to put his fingers inside of a woman… and he needed a witness.

Isn’t it interesting, even, to consider that most new obstetrician/gynecologists are women?  Is it because women are just more interested in women’s health?  Or maybe because more women are going into medicine, in general?  Maybe because women want a female  rather than a male gynecologist poking around down there?  Or is it that men don’t want to put themselves in a vulnerable position?  Or, is it too much to think that maybe, female doctors only want female patients?

I know the last reason is kind of preposterous, I mean, there are many female physicians in all fields of medicine. But I want to be an obs/gyn – and I always figured it was because I love what they do.  I love pregnancy, I want to deliver babies, I want to help women who want to be helped.  But that’s just it: women, and only women.  Is there something to this decision of mine?  Something deep down that I’ve never even thought of before?  It is scary to think that this fear that I have is so fundamentally part of me that I’ve allowed it to influence my career goals, without even realizing it.

But maybe not.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Today’s experience was not an isolated incident for me.  Basically any time I am alone with a man who is not my husband, the thought that they might do something to me creeps into my head.  With some men it is worse than others.  And, sometimes even just walking towards a man on the sidewalk when there is no one else around is enough to get my mind going on the subject.  Even if I try not to think about it, even if I try to tell myself that I’m being ridiculous, I still manage to assume that any man is capable of hurting me… sexually.

I don’t have to think very hard to know why I feel this way.

When I was thirteen a boy I liked wanted to touch me.  I let him because I didn’t want to be prude… but he went too far.

A high school boyfriend forced himself on me when I wasn’t ready.  I was still a virgin and he knew it.  We were on a band tour and we were in his hotel room.  But then his room-mates came back at just the right time and they threw him off of me (one of them was a guy I dated earlier in high school and we were good friends).

My first time was not really my choice.  It was more like a resignation.

Then there was the incident.

Can you really blame me for assuming the worst when it comes to men?

After reading Meizac’s post as well as the stories of a few other bloggers, I can’t help but wonder if there is any woman out there who hasn’t had a negative sexual experience with a man.  An experience so horrible that they will never forget it… an experience so life-altering that it has completely changed the person they might have been.


26 thoughts on “Scared of Men

  1. I am ok with a male performing a massage on me, but when I went to get my “lady check” at the gyn (here in Germany) I chose to wait for 2 months because I wanted to book an appointment with the only woman working there. It’s a horrible experience at best, and I wouldn’t want a man, who has no idea what it feels like, doing that to me.

    I think another thing I have as a woman is an uncertainty about certain guys. Sometimes I will come across a man – maybe a friend of my dad’s, maybe a guy at work – and I’ll just feel unsafe around them. They’ve not done anything to me or said anything wrong, my 6th sense is just saying “stay away from him”. Maybe other women have this too.


    1. I’m like that too… Some men just rub me the wrong way, and some are okay. Also, once I get to know someone, it might be better. Like most of my classmates for example: I’m not afraid of any of them because I’ve gotten to know them.


  2. Reblogged this on Meizac and commented:
    The Cranky Giraffe wrote this after reading “Piece of meat.” Just a warning that, if you read the post she’s linked to at the end, it contains triggers.


  3. The only massage I have ever had was on my head/neck/shoulder area as part of physical therapy after a spinal injury. My therapist was male; I had to lay face-up on the table while he stood at my head and moved his hands all around my neck and face, under my hair, down my shoulders. It may SOUND wonderful and sensuous, but I had very little mobility and couldn’t have defended myself if I needed to. He was a perfect gentleman and very professional, but I felt more vulnerable during my therapy than at any other point in my recovery.

    I requested a female physical therapist, but he was the only one there who was qualified to work with injuries as severe as mine. I eventually got used to it, but I should have asked him to leave the door open, or to have a woman present in the room with us. I wish I’d had the courage to tell him how scared I was. Perhaps I would have recovered faster without the fear.


  4. I read her post too and it really hit home with me. I also am incredibly scared of men (except for my boyfriend) and almost every time I am alone with one, I am in fear of being sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or raped. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve had all three happen to me, some by people I know and trusted to an extent or if there is some inherent off-balance power dynamic between men and women. Women know for the most part, that men can easily overpower them. Most men will not rape, but they are still physically capable of it. And I think as a survivor of rape, it’s natural to have some fear of men.

    I had a very similar experience to you when getting a massage by a male. I’ve had massages by men before (I used to work for day spas, so I’ve had tons of massages) and almost every single one of them included what were, in my opinion, inappropriate comments; comments I’d not make if I were a man, massaging a naked female. I never take my underwear off, but one time, a male massage therapist COMMENTED on my underwear! The most recent massage by a man was by someone slightly younger than me, maybe in his mid-to-late 20s. Most of the time, he was talking about how to pick up girls, how he didn’t want to be single … and it made me question his motives for being a massage therapist. Before my massage, I texted my boyfriend to tell him the exact location and that if he hadn’t heard from me by a certain time, to call the police. I certainly would not do that for a female massage therapist.


    1. Wow, I can’t believe that people would talk about that while giving a massage! Maybe it’s because you are similar in age and they think it’s “okay” to talk about those kinds of things with people in your age group. But, seriously… That is totally inappropriate!


      1. I thought so too. You’d think they’d try to bring more professionalism to a field where you ask your clients to get naked and lay on a bed.


    1. Thanks. As a man (who I’m assuming would not treat women that way, I hope), does it bother you that your gender has such a bad reputation among so many women?


  5. I admire the fact that you lived through all these incidents and still became the person you are. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been through something or another, I’ve been both physically and verbally harassed, but never raped. I don’t know how I could deal with that and that’s why your bravery means so much. Unfortunately from where I come from, it’s part of the culture, and the blame is lain on the women for being ‘provocative’. Which is a big bag of shit.
    And you know what gets me most? The fact that even without doing anything, we live with a fear that it can happen from anyone, anywhere. Find me a single man who proceeds with caution and fear when going into a room with a lady alone and I may allow myself to think that we are to ‘blame’.


  6. As so many others have said, I absolutely feel for you in these situations. You’ve tapped into something I think a lot of women feel. I had a breast exam by a male PCP once. He was calm, cool, and professional–and I couldn’t breathe.


    1. It’s really unfortunate that so many women feel uncomfortable and that it seems like ALL men are “guilty until proven otherwise.”


  7. I had an “experience,” but I’m not constantly & totally afraid of men. Only sometimes. Most of the time I kind of empathize with them. But maybe it’s because I ended up raising nothing but sons.

    Can totally relate about the masseuse & male OB/GYNs though. Had a really creepy Dr once. Ugh!

    But plain old guys on the street? Not always. Because: about 10 years ago, when I pulled into my parking place at work, I saw 2 men whom I instantly feared.

    I got out of my car, and walked over to my office door, keys & coffee cup in hand.

    It was winter. After an ice storm. I slipped & fell & broke my T12 vertebrae.

    Those 2 scary men helped me crawl into my office, unlocked all the doors with my keys, got me some ibuprofen out of my purse, and stayed with me after I phoned for help, until the paramedics arrived.

    I never found out who those scary gentlemen were. But God bless them!

    I think again about male bashing & mistrusting ever since.


    1. PS – What I learned is this: Sometimes what I think is “trusting my instincts,” is really just irrational prejudice. Be wary – but don’t be mean. There really are a lot of good-hearted men on earth. And you can’t really tell by just glancing at them.


      1. P.P.S. And having raised 4 sons & married one decent man, I can also truly state that men c/n help it that the way we look does something to them. I guess they’re wired that way. It was probably our Creator’s design. To propagate the species and all that.

        But how they approach us? And how they respect us? That their mamas need to teach them (and their daddies.)

        And some of the mamas & the daddies that went before us have done not-so-bad.

        There’s a LOT of truly decent men on earth.

        Heck – every mama knows – there are also some really Jezebel Women that we need to warn our darling sons to not become enamored with! So it goes both ways.

        Just sayin’.


  8. I think I understand what you’re saying about wanting to be a doctor to women. What you want to do is what women have done for one another for all of human existence, up until the last hundred and fifty years or so. It’s in your blood like it is for many of us. We understand birth, and we know it’s women’s business. We know it’s sacred territory that does not belong to men. They can never understand it like we can. They only got involved because someone got the crazy idea that birth should happen in hospitals with doctors.

    Women didn’t become doctors at that point in time, so men took over birthing. And ironically enough, they totally screwed it up. They brought puerperal fever and with it, FEAR. Semmelweiss tried to point out their folly, and died in an insane asylum….but he was right. Birth was not dangerous; doctors were. Doctors with dirty hands. But it was too late by then. FEAR had entered the sacred realm of birthing, and men weren’t about to give up trying to fix what they had ruined.

    Today, women are slowly trying to recover what was lost. Women are reclaiming birth. Natural birth, home birth, birth centers, doulas…we’re trying, but it’s a long hard road. Female doctors who treat women during pregnancy are suspended between two worlds — they have the ancient calling to help women in childbirth, but they are caught up in a medical world that has long been dominated by men.

    You have it, Cranky Giraffe. You have the calling deep in your soul. You are drawn, like so many of your sisters before you, to the ancient art of midwifery.


    1. Thanks, Alice!
      Have you ever read “The Birth House” by Ami McKay? If you haven’t, I would highly recommend it!
      You are right in so many ways: I love the idea of helping women during the most amazing and scary times of their lives. And, I know what they are going through, physically and emotionally, since I’ve been there before. I think that modern medicine has its place in this field, but women need to find what works for them. That being said, there is still a very high maternal and infant mortality rate in parts of the world that don’t have access to the kinds of interventions we have in the developed world. We currently have little to no infant and maternal mortality because we have found ways to reduce the complications that birthing women face. Medicine, like anything new and powerful, is a pendulum – it always have to swing too far to the extremes before it finds it proper place and balance in the world.


  9. I don’t think any woman is without at least one story in which she felt vulnerable, frightened and alone when dealing with a man. It breaks my heart to think but it seems its just the world we live in. Society has drilled fear into us as a form of self defense.


  10. I fear men everyday. When a man raises his voice or yells at his kids for being naughty. When a man hugs me or looks at me in a certain way, I cringe away. I get cold shiver and have to really try hard to breathe. I even feel this way with the men I have in my family. I don’t want to feel like this. I want to be able to have a relationship one day without fearing him or not trusting him. I’m 23 and so lost.


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