Limited concepts reduce this adage to a physical defending against outward harm, in view of women’s externally more fragile features gifted to her by Nature. Those who rebel are right in many ways, for this narrow exposition infers the abdication of any relevant role for man when all physical dangers become extinct. And for the woman, it creates a pressure that erroneously compels toward linking up with a man to serve as some bodyguard if any vestige of deviance exists in the broader environment in which she domiciles. All around, the fallacious interpretation creates only confusion and not clarity. It is the misconception that is rebelled against, but not the truth therein. Going deeper, here is my simple exegesis of this profound axiom. Emphasis on “my”; for I can only offer my position and not claim to speak for truth itself.
To protect is to “reinforce, safeguard, support, fortify and further”. So when we declare a man’s role is to “protect” a woman, it means he should endeavor through his conduct, thoughts and intuitions to act in an ennobled manner that will strengthen the inner goodwill and spiritual striving of woman. When he acts this way, he is not hindering, but supporting, safeguarding, fortifying and furthering the nobility of woman on her spiritual path. The “protection” is the reinforcement and amplification his being provides the undulating light of her own intuitions. Such “protection” safeguards against any impure, base and coarse endeavors, thereby enabling her to more easily and peacefully unfold in chastity. It is a spur, an encouragement, a reciprocity of illumination. All this has nothing to do with marriage and personal acquaintanceship. But is an objective principle.
If I approach a woman with impure thoughts of any kind, I thus tempt her to stray from what is good and thereby indulge me. I am not reinforcing what is good, but perhaps even supporting what is bad through validation of certain inner vanities. In this case, I am exposing her to danger by encouraging the erosion of her connection to what is good. That constitutes an “attack” (inwardly) against higher intuitions and endeavors. But naturally women also have a role to strive for what is higher, and not merely asymmetrically expect all effort to flow from man. Both are active participants in this process of inner purification and mutual support.
So the “protection” is first and foremost meant spiritually in the level of deeper intuitions, which consequently influence thoughts, attitudes and deeds. It is only our penchant for narrow physical interpretations that divests all high knowledge of their power through intellectual sagacity, thereby undermining the vast wisdom inherent in every axiom that flows from above. But the adages issuing from the intuition always stand infallible, so before refuting it is our duty to first clarify our positions to determine whether or not how we see and interpret it is correct.
~Ikenna Q Ezealah