My friend Steve pointed out the article “What Scares a Man?” by David Zinczenko. In it Zinczenko illuminates 15 things that frighten men.
I was struck by how many of the 15 also apply to women. Things like rejection, being a lousy lover, living paycheck to paycheck, not seeing your kids grow up, losing a parent, public humiliation, getting naked and speedos (or for most midlife women, a bikini). And we can relate to the women’s equivalent of “not being a god to his kids” (not being loved by her kids) and “beautiful women” (stunningly handsome men). So we have nearly all the same fears on David’s list.
What are women afraid of that men aren’t? A few come to mind:
- Being abandoned. This is a commonly quoted fear many women share. I don’t really understand why it is more of an issue for women than men, especially since many of our fears are established in childhood. I would think that little boys and little girls would share the feeling of vulnerability if their parents would leave them. But maybe it has to do with men being socialized to be tough and take care of themselves and others. And, although this has changed a lot, woman have been socialized that they need someone to take care of them, especially if they have children. So even with all the advances in society and plenty of women showing they don’t need someone to take care of them, the abandonment issue remains.
- Being used for sex. I’ve never found a man who has this fear (although a few said they wanted to be used for sex!), yet many dating women have shared this one. Since a man can be used just for sex, too, isn’t it interesting that women are the ones who voice this fear?
- Losing our attractiveness. While men fear some loss of physical attractiveness, I think it is not nearly to the degree that women do. Our society worships beauty. If a woman loses this, she can feel like an outcast, a crone, no matter what her age. We all like to think someone finds us appealing. So as we age, more and more women (and some men) are having billions of dollars of plastic surgery.
- Being harmed physically or emotionally. Even if we have no past history of someone harming us, most of us have this fear. If someone has harmed us, it is nearly always still a fear.
- Losing people we love. Death and loss is difficult for nearly everyone. Losing a dear friend or family member makes it especially difficult, even if we didn’t interact with them often. There is an emptiness in our hearts when we realize we can no longer pick up the phone and talk to him/her whenever we want
What do you think women fear that is different than what men fear?
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