So I've had this thought before, but I've never bothered to actually think it all the way through.
I was at an event with a mixed crowd, and one guy made some smart remark making fun of me. If you know me, you'd know that I was thinking up my response when another guy (that I don't know very well) jumped in and goes "hey, no making fun of my little sister" (referring to the fact that we're all brothers and sisters in Christ). I immediately bristled and said "hey hey, wait a minute. I can take care of myself, thank you very much." Then I sat there for a minute trying to figure out why it bothered me so much that this guy jumped in. And here's what I came up with.
I am all for the male leader, male protector model. HOWEVER, I don't want a guy protecting me who doesn't believe that I am a completely capable human being all on my own. If someone protects me because they don't want me to have to fight for myself, that's different than someone who thinks I can't fight for myself. My problem with the guy who jumped in is that he's never treated me as an equal--just as someone who needs to be watched out for as if I'm a china doll in the hands of a 2-year-old. I can respect a man if he respects me, too. I think this will be part of how I will be able to know very clearly if a man is supposed to be my future spouse. And I know it's possible.
Take my brother for instance. We grew up as equals. I mean sure, he's bigger, stronger, and faster than me but if it came down to a fight he would jump in because he loves me and would rather take the blows than have me go through it. Also take some of the Explorer guys that I work with or most of the men at my cg. If there were to be any kind of disagreement, I wouldn't have a problem with one of them stepping in for me because I know they respect me as a person. They know I'm capable of defending my honor but they'd rather do it for me.
This might make me a feminist, but I was thinking about it and I don't think it's against the Bible. Mars Hill likes to talk a lot about how in a marriage both people are equal, but the man needs to be the leader (because there can only be one leader). So I think it fits that the leader/protector role can come out of love and not out of responsibility or duty. I dunno maybe this doesn't make any sense to anyone who's not in my brain. But it always helps for me to write things out :)