When I’m with a woman I love and something bad happens, my first instinct is to reach out to protect her. It’s not conscious. It’s just the way I feel. But I never feel the same instinct with a man I’m with, even if I care deeply about him.
Some people would say this is cultural, but I think it’s hardwired in some way. The average man has a strong instinct to protect the women in his life that he cares about, and my feeling is that it’s deeply embedded in us in some way. We saw three examples of it on display in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., late Thursday night.
In at least three cases, men died trying to protect the girlfriends they had with them. In a situation such as that, there’s no time for conscious thinking. It’s all about gut instinct. How many other men in the theater that night were doing the same, but didn’t happen to die? There’s no way to know, but I’d be shocked if there weren’t a lot more who were instinctively willing to die to protect women they felt responsible for.
Witnesses say that Matt McQuinn, above, dove on top of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, when the shooting started. Yowler’s brother, Nick, was also in the theater and helped get her out of the line of fire as well. Samantha Yowler was hit in the knee by a bullet, but McQuinn took the one that could have killed her.
Jon Blunk (in the red shirt below) took his girlfriend, Jansen Young, to the movie in part because they were celebrating her graduation from veterinary school. Blunk is an ex-sailor with hopes of rejoining the military to become a Navy SEAL. He protected her with his body, and he died.
“He’s a hero, and he’ll never be forgotten,” Young told the New York Daily News. “Jon took a bullet for me.”
Alex Teves (in the beach picture below) shoved his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren, to the floor as bullets flew all around them.
“He pushed her to the floor to save her and he ended up getting a bullet,” said Teves’ aunt, Barbara Slivinske. “He was gonna hit the floor himself, but he never made it.”
What is it that gives so many men the instinct to protect the women they love? Some people have maintained for decades that the sexes can (or should) be the same, but I just don’t think that’s the way we’re wired. Men have certain advantages and roles. Women have certain other advantages and roles.
I think we’re crazy if we believe we can ever make men and women alike — and I think we’re even crazier if we want to.
Note: If you’re interested in more about the 12 people who died in the Aurora shootings, here’s a CNN article covering all of them.