Excuse me, what? Are you arming yourself and standing watch at night while wifey sleeps? Are you accompanying her at all times whenever she ventures out of the house, armed and alert and prepared for hand-to-hand combat with your mad karate skillz? Do you live in Somalia, where death by firearm or mortar is a real threat? If not, then I propose that the value of such protection is zero and you don’t get to negotiate some sort of compensation for labor you perform only in your imagination. This is the Western world after all; most of us are privileged enough that direct threats to our physical survival are vanishingly rare.
Chuck points out that you can’t measure protection simply by attempted attacks which have been thwarted:
Britney Spears’ bodyguard rarely if ever has to spring into action to defend the pop starlet from violent attack. Spears is really paying mostly for the bodyguard’s mere presence which serves as a deterrent against attack or harassment. The bodyguard as deterrent is actually a more important role than bodyguard as Chuck Norris.
If we applied the same standard of thwarted attacks, one would have to deem the police themselves as worthless since the police rarely respond in time to disrupt an attack in process. Blogger Suburban Sheepdog makes this point in his blog post arguing against gun control titled Who You Gonna Call?
Go and find a cop. Ideally, find one with 20 or 25 years of service who has spent his entire career in a patrol division, cruising the streets in a prowl car and answering calls. Now ask that cop these questions: How many armed robberies have you stopped while they were occurring? How many in-progress rapes have you broken up? How many times have you caught an armed burglar still in the house with the family he was victimizing? Then ask that cop this: How many reports have you written after the fact for armed robbery, rape, or home invasion?
I know to a metaphysical certainty that the numbers corresponding to the first set of questions will be vanishingly small compared to the numbers in the second set.* How could it be otherwise? Unless a lawman is on your block – or, for that matter, in your driveway – when the call comes, you cannot reasonably expect him to be there before the deed’s been done. It’s one of Robert’s Rules: When seconds count, the police are just minutes away. (I didn’t make that one up, but it’s one of the Rules nonetheless.)
Criminal violence is a very complicated issue, but at the very least we can say that criminals are deterred from attempting rapes, robberies, and murder if they fear either getting caught after the fact or they fear significant force will be used to prevent them from being successful in the act. As with so much in life, avoiding crime isn’t about being perfectly protected against it as it is about making it difficult enough to generally not be worth the criminal’s while or at least seeming like a less opportune target than someone else.
If you have to choose between criminals fearing they might get caught if they rape, rob or murder you, or them fearing that you might kill them or seriously injure them in the process, choose the latter. Better yet, choose both. As an article from the BBC points out, burglars take much more care to avoid breaking into occupied homes in the US than they do in the UK, because they fear the occupants in the US:
A study found American burglars fear armed home-owners more than the police. As a result burglaries are much rarer and only 13% occur when people are at home, in contrast to 53% in England.
Criminals have every reason to fear breaking in to an occupied home in the US. I’ve now referenced three articles arguing against gun control, but for this post my argument isn’t about gun control. In fact, gun control makes my point stronger. My point is that criminals fear attacking when the victim or someone near them is in a position to respond with physical force. That someone doesn’t have to be Chuck Norris, they simply have to pose enough of a threat to convince the criminal to find a better opportunity. Someone who is bigger, stronger, and more prone to use violence in defense than they might otherwise face.
Someone like a man.
Yes I know some of my female readers are armed, and some others are sure they would go all Lara Croft on someone’s ass. But what if you live in an area with gun control, or you don’t live in a video game?
As Chuck pointed out, the majority of the benefit of safety accrued from men acting as protectors doesn’t show up in the form of attacks attempted and thwarted, it shows up in the form of attacks which aren’t attempted in the first place. It shows up in the form of a society so free from violent crime that the original commenter felt comfortable ridiculing the very idea of women needing protection from violent criminals.