If I may offer my perspective, sadly, I don’t think it’s so much about safety, as it is about the sense of acquiring some privilege within an oppressive system. I know saying this makes me look like a jerk, so please, allow me to explain.
I come from a country with a long history of communist tyranny that, though behind us, has left heavy scars on everyone who’s experienced it, either directly or through their caregivers. The communist regime was oppressive, denying people basic rights, food, opportunities, and the freedom to voice their opinions. In the midst of all the indoctrination, for decades on end, it didn’t even occur to people to revolt. What they did instead, was rat on their neighbours in exchange for scraps of privilege within a system that still oppressed them just the same.
Similarly, I feel that women are educated to view one another as competitors in a race towards the best mate, rather than as sisters. (Guess who this approach benefits? Hint: not women.) Once we internalise this view, displaying misogyny becomes a way of setting ourselves apart from ‘the others’ – i.e. women are so emotional, not me though, I’m placing myself above it all, escaping a little bit of the judgement by inflicting it upon my fellow women. It’s the ‘I’m not like other girls’ trope.
By openly and vehemently adhering to the patriarchal views, I’m awarded a privileged position within the hierarchy, even though I may never hope to reach the top. It’s heart-breaking, really, because it shows we’ve internalised our biased gender education so strongly that we feel we may never hope to escape it, striving instead towards scraps of privilege within an inherently repressive system.
Your call to compassion and empathy is, I feel, the only way forward.