The thing is i dont see a any problem with how things played out. Some people will panic and freeze up when confronted by monsters whilst others will retain a level of calm allowing them to think more clearly and take more proactive action like finding a way to fight back or a successful way to escape. Gender has nothing to do with how a person reacts to a monster or a monstrous situation.
Given that "monstrous situation" also covers sudden attacks of all sorts, this is true. Indeed, most people, when confronted by a sudden, unprovoked verbal
assault are taken aback, and do not respond effectively. Aggressive/psychopathic people rely on this widespread tendency.
That said, I don't think Alak wasn't even organized enough mentally to cower effectively. As I recall he more or less fell over when the girl reared back on him, then lay there in shock. Good cowering would have been trying to crawl backwards on his elbows I think.
The scene may have just been executed badly by the director and actors though.
What almost invariably does make a difference is training and experience. In the girl's case, I think the dead older brother seems like the type to have given her some hand to hand combat time.