"Fear in public spaces is a major concern for women in the USA and elsewhere. Men are unlikely to renounce women's fear in public space, because women's fear plays an instrumental role in sustaining men's masculine gender identities. This paper examines men's perception of women's fear in public space based on findings from interviews with 82 men students in Irvine, California, USA. Findings explore how men's need to "prove masculinity" in public spaces reinforces men's perception of women as fearful and in need of "protection." Conclusions suggest directions for new research and for reinterpretation of existing research findings on women and fear in public space."