I've blogged about this before but it warrants repeating. I, nor any feminist I know personally, thinks that all women are weak and need men to protect them. That's pretty much the opposite of what feminism as a whole believes. HOWEVER, we do acknowledge that women are human, therefore exhibit a range of strength, and some women are weak and vulnerable just like some men are weak and vulnerable. Feminists also acknowledge that this vulnerability is often taken advantage of, and that women are being screwed over in many ways that do warrant legal reform in order to prevent said screwing over.
The goal of feminism is not to turn every woman on the planet into a stoic badass. We do think that's a perfectly okay way to be, and we want to encourage that through empowerment. However, there's nothing wrong with being vulnerable, or sensitive, or emotional, or exhibiting any traits that are considered feminine and thus "weak." Women. Are. Human. And as humans, we are subject to the world around us whether we like it or not - anyone who has ever studied sociology, psychology, or communications will tell you that socialization does affect how a person develops. Looking glass self and all those fancy buzzwords. We shouldn't be surprised when women act the way they've been expected to act their whole lives, and we certainly shouldn't put down that behavior. If a woman chooses to embrace her vulnerability, or whatever other "weak," feminine traits within her, that's her own damn business. Feminism is about choice, remember? And remember that feminists also want men to be allowed to show their vulnerable sides as well.
That said, it's not sexist or somehow bad for women to acknowledge that women are getting the shitty end of the stick. They are being raped and beaten far more often than men, they are being paid less than men, they are still discriminated against. And while women should be empowered to fight that crap, there should be laws in place to protect them from the bullshit. I'm not saying every woman needs a knight in shining armor, but for god's sake, it's the law's JOB to protect people from being hurt and screwed over. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that the police forces and court systems are still dominated by men. That should change too, by the way.
Now, this came up when I posted something on Tumblr saying that if a woman feels uncomfortable in a situation - specifically, if she perceives a guy as "creepy," she should be allowed to trust her instincts and act accordingly. The reaction was that I was assuming women were all weak and needed protecting, and that most women unfairly label men "creepy" when they really should consider why they feel that way. Yes, a woman's perception could be shaped by sexism, ageism, racism, etc., but we shouldn't assume that's always the case. A woman could examine her perception and why she felt unsafe AFTER she has gotten to a safe place or situation. It's about priorities: safety first, then in-depth examinations of privilege. We need to trust that women can make decisions for themselves, especially in regards to safety. This is not about women needing to be protected, it's about women protecting themselves from perceived threats.
Silly me, I thought that women who ignored their instincts and stayed in creepy situations just to be nice and politically correct were the "stupid" ones that needed empowerment. Isn't teaching women how to protect themselves usually considered empowerment?