I am so tired of people pushing the whole “men are hunters” crap when it comes to relationships. It’s just not true. Even worse, this widely promoted belief is unhealthy for both men and women.

For my more religious brothers and sisters, please allow me to point out that Adam’s original job assignment was gardener, not hunter. He was assigned stewardship of the garden (not the hunting grounds) of Eden. So the idea that men do not have the capacity to nurture, and that creating and maintaining a caring, peaceful and healthy environment for others is the exclusive domain of women, is nonsense. Beyond that, to the degree that Eve is believed to be the original ancestor and prototype of all women, she was created to be a companion for Adam. Unlike the animals that populated the garden perhaps, she was not created to be hunted and captured by him. Eve was a gift from God, not a conquest of Adam.

On the other hand, being a hunter is practically synonymous with being a predator. This sets up a sinister premise: If the natural disposition of males is to be predators, that means that the natural role of females is to be prey. When predators (including sexual, emotional and financial predators) capture their prey, they are only focused on one thing: sating their appetite. Believe me, that does not mean treating the hunted with tender loving care and seeing to their health and well-being. It means devouring the prey, and once satisfied, abandoning the remains. Neither the desires nor the consent of the prey are priorities.

This is the underlying premise of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, infidelity, reckless promiscuity, ephebophilia/pedophilia and other unhealthy, destructive and even deadly choices and behaviors. By rule, hunters may use any means at their disposal, ranging from deceit and subterfuge to traps and violence, to capture their prey. This is the kind of thinking that makes penis-led adult males (the polar opposite of Grown men as described in Loving In The Grown Zone, my book with co-author Zara Green) an ever-present danger to themselves and others.

The hunter/prey gender-role model is a dangerously unhealthy one for relationships. Moreover, it is a horrible way to frame how intimate relationships should be pursued and established, especially for young men and women (and yes, boys and girls) who are extremely vulnerable to images, messages and gender models of intimate romantic and sexual behavior. It reinforces and affirms that it is natural for men to view and treat women as conquests, trophies, objects to be toyed with until soiled and broken, and then discarded—and to measure their manhood accordingly.

The hunter/prey gender-role model also sets women and girls up to literally compete for the role of prey, in response to what has been communicated to them by music, movies—and yes, relationship experts—about how they are valued: usually by the length of their hair, the depth of their cleavage and the breadth of their butts. This is why so many adult females (not Grown women) dangle their bodies (or their financial resources or other assets) as bait in competition with other women in order to attract a “hunter” of choice, and then to somehow convince him that she is “The One” worthy of being kept and cared for, not used and disposed of. Too often, being chosen as The One means being captured and “domesticated” as the “main chick” or wife, kept for nourishment, sex and breeding (and perhaps more income), in between “hunting” expeditions.

This false and dangerous notion of men as hunters of women is just one more reason why I and my Grown Zone Relationship Education Co-Creator Zara vehemently challenge popular relationship advice rooted in useless generalizations of how people of one gender or the other are, or are meant to be. When it comes to making healthy relationship decisions, understanding what is unique about an individual man or woman will always be more important than understanding what they might have in common with other men and women. Being treated (or expected to act or think) like a “typical” woman or man is the furthest thing from being genuinely and specifically loved for who you are.

It is not only inaccurate, but irresponsible to teach that “hunting” girls and women is a healthy and appropriate standard for Grown manhood. Human beings, regardless of gender, are not created to be hunted. Any relationship founded on that premise is inherently unhealthy. The Grown Zone standard for healthy relationships is H.E.R.: Honor, Esteem and Respect. The relationship between hunter and prey is the furthest thing from that standard. Hunters do not honor, esteem or respect—much less love—their prey.

Both men and women are created with the capacity to both hunt and nurture, whether alone or (in a model of healthy relationships) in partnership with one another. (And yes, women can be predators, too.) However, neither was created to hunt or be hunted (or held in captivity) by the other. Whether you are male or female, if you are committed to healthy, loving, sustainable relationships, reject the false idea that men are hunters, with women as their prey.

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