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I am a woman men used to find scary, which surprised me. One man I dated was upset because I made more money than he did (he asked; I shared). At a Sierra Singles hike (otherwise known as a walking cocktail party), I exchanged numbers with someone I'd met. "By the way," he said, "I was warned you were a ball-buster," a comment made by those I'd only met casually that day. If I shared I was a feminist, or a teacher of women's studies, the usual response from males was: "I'm not opening my mouth anymore." A long-term relationship described me as "walking softly but carrying a big stick," because I stood up for myself when necessary. I once complained to a woman friend that a man I was seeing wasn't making sexual advances. Her husband's response? "I'd be terrified. She's traveled around the world, owns her own home, has a doctorate" (all things my friend's husband had done, too), "and when she wants a baby, she goes out and gets one." (Yes, I adopted my daughter.) His comment made me laugh, but why did my independence make men fearful, and am I still scary today?

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I am...

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