noun \?pre-d?-t?r, -?to?r\
: an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals : an animal that preys on other animals
: a person who looks for other people in order to use, control, or harm them in some way
Recently scrolling through Instagram I came across a quote about men being natural hunters that characterized the relationship dynamic between men and women as one of hunter and prey. This is not the first time I’ve read this, but the terminology has always bothered me, and this is probably the first time that I’ve actually thought about why.
For the sake of the length of this post, let’s skip over the fact that in reality the gender breakdown when it comes to hunting is cultural and pretend that only men were hunters (although a quick Google search would let you know that this is false).
But since this is always touted as a biological difference between men and women; men as hunters and women as prey, let’s instead explore some facts about hunting from its post-Adam-and-Eve onset and think about why men were hunters.
Men didn’t hunt for fun, they didn’t hunt for sport. They also didn’t hunt their women, friends or family members. They didn’t hunt for pets. They had no love for their prey. They hunted because they were hungry. They hunted for food.
The hunt wasn’t about the thrill of the chase or the satisfaction of the catch. The hunt was to obtain something that they could use for their own purposes, devour, and ultimately destroy.
To accept that a man is a hunter in a relationship and to accept my role as prey, we have to be willing to accept that a man is a natural predator. We are saying that when a man is seeking a woman, his ultimate goal is to use, control and harm her in some way, and we aren’t just acknowledging it, we’re accepting it as a way of life and celebrating it as a good thing.
We’re teaching men that using women is what they’re designed to do. We’re teaching women to be as empowered as a deer dodging a bow and arrow in the woods; to be constantly on guard; to run, to hide and to attack at the moment they feel threatened. Then we wonder why we can’t build healthy relationships based on that doctrine.
The truth is that there are real predators, men and women, who seek to harm you for their own purposes. But to place every man in that category and act as though a predator/prey relationship between a man and a woman is a natural thing empowers no one. It also makes it impossible to distinguish between those who seek to devour and destroy, and those who don’t.
It’s time to come up with a new metaphor. Instead of building relationships based on chasing and running, how about we start with the reality that there is no me without you and vice versa, not because I’m something to be used up, but because I’m your equal, and should be respected in that way. Stop trying to chase and destroy me and I can stop running. Understand my worth and together we can embrace and support each other along the way.
Do you believe that men and women are hunters and prey? Why or why not?