The ultimate guide to being a decent dude

How not to be a twat in 2016


Are you a man? Ever get the feeling that maybe you’re not quite treating women the way you should do? Do  you often find yourself getting into arguments with women about feminism and they always wind up getting annoyed at you? Do you feel as if you can’t call yourself a feminist because actually, you’re not contributing to the movement at all? Well, now’s your chance to learn!

Listen

This may seem pretty straightforward, but it’s amazing how many discussions I get into with men who I feel aren’t actually listening to what I’m saying at all. Listen, let it sink in, and then reply.

Listen when we say we feel something isn’t right. If a woman says something is sexist, then it is not your place as a man to question her. Funnily enough, we have quite a bit of experience in that particular area, so we probably have a better idea of what constitutes sexism. Don’t talk over women, and don’t get offended about the term “mansplaining”. It really does happen.

We don’t need men to try and solve the problems of feminism for us. We just need you to stand with us, and to amplify our voices.

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Recognise the difference between your life and other peoples’

It’s all well and good laughing about Trump grabbing women by the pussy or feeling like you can be the next Louis Theroux and take a real interest in fascism without getting sucked in, but the fact is, it’s not a joke for everyone else. For women, for POC, for LGBT+ people, for disabled people – it’s not a joke. And ditch the ‘everything’s going to be OK’ sentimentality as well. Of course it’s going to be OK for you. But actually, not everyone has that privilege.

Stop making this a huge joke

Following on from the Trump thing, just please, in general, stop joking about stuff that is actually pretty serious and upsetting to anyone who isn’t you. If women discuss political views and opinions that matter to us and actually affect our lives, have the courtesy to take them seriously. We’re engaging in debate with you because we want you to see things from our perspective, so please try and do so.

Laughing at women for ‘getting their knickers in a twist’ and treating the whole situation as a great bit of banter with the lads just makes you look like an idiot, and just fuels the need for feminism in the first place. This isn’t funny for us. This is real life. And just stop making jokes about women and liberation movements in general. They may seem like a joke to you, but to us it’s helping change our lives.

Never feel as if a woman owes you anything

Remember that classic 90s movie Ten Things I Hate About You? Remember how, throughout the whole movie, we’re made to feel bad for Cameron because Bianca doesn’t immediately leap into his arms and proclaim her love for him after he buys a French textbook?

The thing is, we’re supposed to feel really sorry for Cameron when Bianca doesn’t immediately fall head over heels for him. He’s all “but I learned French for you!”, but firstly, he didn’t, he literally just bought a textbook, and secondly, so what? She never asked you to do that. You don’t pursue a woman and then expect that, because you’ve made an effort, she has to like you back. That’s not how it works.

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And this translates to the real, non-fictional world, too. Sure, do nice things for someone if you’re interested in them, but don’t try and force things or expect things from people if they don’t feel the same way back. Just because you bought a woman dinner, does not mean she has to sleep with you. Just because you’re nice to a woman, don’t expect her to fall in love with you. And for God’s sake, can we please give the whole “friend zone” thing a rest now? If a woman just wants to be friends with you, then she’s perfectly allowed to do that.

Don’t get defensive when we generalise men

Because I’ve seen far too many usages of the #NotAllMen hashtag, and dudes piping up with “we’re not all like that!”. Yes, of course. We know you’re not all like that. It’s why a lot of us continue to date men, and be friends with them. When I’m talking about “men being sexist”, I’m obviously not talking about my boyfriend, or my male friends that are good feminist allies. But we’re going to still do it, because the fact is, our entire lives, we have always felt some kind of male oppressive influence. Whether it’s directly from people we know, or from a vague male institutional presence telling us what to do with our bodies, it’s there, and it’s real.

In the same way that I have no right to be offended when POC talk about white people as a whole, men should not be angry and defensive when we talk about men as a whole. POC have had to put up with institutional racism for the entire history of life, and they still do now. So they’re not going to just suddenly declare all white people OK now, especially as racism is still so rife in this day and age.

And here’s the crucial thing you must remember at all times: THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU.

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Don’t sexualise lesbian & bi relationships

Just don’t do it. Gay women are not there to fulfil your sexual fantasy. Porn and real life aren’t the same thing. They probably don’t want to have a threesome with you. They are people, not objects. Thanks.

Stop saying it should be ‘equalism’ or that feminism is all about ‘hating men’

And for the love of God, do not, for a second, entertain any notions to do with ‘meninism’.

Look, here’s the thing guys: you’ve got it better than us. In terms of institutional and social oppression, you’ve got it better. Especially if you’re white and/or rich. Now, of course, men have their issues too, most notably in terms of mental health and the alarming rates of male suicide. Now that is a men’s rights problem. As well as the rights of gay men, trans men, disabled men, and men of colour. I get that, these are serious issues that feminism actually helps. Feminism is about everyone being equal, and so therefore, men have just as much a right to talk about their feelings and get emotional as women do.

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Feminism is here for everybody, and aims to help everybody. Trust me, I’ve been interested in this and talking about this for a while now. But that doesn’t mean it should be called ‘equalism’. Yes, we want equality. No, we’re not trying to place ourselves above men, or tear men down (much). But calling it equalism just disregards the fundamental reasoning behind feminism – it’s women that are oppressed, and it’s women that need to be liberated. In doing so, this will also help men. But at the core of the argument, it’s a movement for women, so the name of the movement will acknowledge this fact.

Please learn how our bodies work

And stop spreading damaging myths about them.

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Here’s a quick run down of the key points you should bear in mind:

  • Vaginal discharge is completely normal and healthy.
  • Virginity is actually a social construct. Hymens don’t work like a freshness seal.
  • VAGINAS. DON’T. GET. LOOSE.
  • Periods are the reason you are alive, so stop being weird about them please.

Just because you’re in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean you can control them

In fact, even when we’re not in a relationship. Please do not assume that I care about anything you have to say about how I dress or how I present myself.

This is not a debate, boys. This is just a woman, looking hecka fine, ready to go on a night out. She doesn’t care what you think. None of us do. And your opinion does not have a ruling over what we can and can’t wear. If we wanna wear something, we’re gonna wear it, whether you like it or not. Our bodies. Our clothes. You’re irrelevant. Bye.

Call your friends out

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This is the hardest one, I know. I find it difficult too. But the fact is, your friends are more likely to listen to you than their female friends. So if your buddies make a rape joke, or stereotype women, or slut-shame women, or are just generally sexist: say something. It’s little acts like this that help change people’s perspectives, and help us move forward as a society.

Originally published in full here.