Dating and Relationship Advice

#MeToo # TimesUp #amillionotherthingsandmovements have left many women feeling empowered and many men feeling attacked, guilty, ashamed or downright confused.

As a woman, sometimes I struggle to understand why a lot of men can’t seem to get on board with these amazing cultural shifts. What’s the problem with not treating women like garbage?!

But, as a human, I try to be empathetic to the difficulties of suddenly unstable ground. Nobody likes change.

Ok, how about a compromise? I’ll give you gentlemen a few clues, and you guys go ahead and do them. Sound good? Great.

Here is a list of clear things men can do right now to combat toxic masculinity.

1) Recognize That Toxic Masculinity Exists

Yes, toxic masculinity is a thing. That’s a fact. Not up for discussion. Embrace this fact, and then take a look at your position in the patriarchal structure. How many legs up in life have you received because of your gender? How have you, your friends, and your family participated in or been complicit in toxic masculinity? Acceptance of the problem and awareness of your own privilege are great first steps.

No means no. Keep in mind that the male/female power dynamic plays a big role in consent. In other words, women often are too scared to say no because they’re afraid of physical, emotional, or economic consequences.

Therefore, even a weak no means no. Sex should never be a contest to see if you can change a “no” into a “yes”. If you’re going to touch a woman (or hell, another person) their consent needs to be enthusiastic and freely given.

3) Stop Giving Excuses

Boys will not be boys. Men aren’t born misogynistic—those are learned behaviors. Simply being male is not an excuse to be a jerk or a creep. Don’t let yourself or other guys off the hook.

4) Do Not Send Us Unrequested Dick Pics

Yes, sending an unrequested dick pic or catcalling a woman on the street are not as bad as assault, but THEY ARE STILL SEXUAL HARASSMENT. How would you feel if a random man followed you down the street asking for your phone number? You’d feel pretty uncomfortable and probably violated. So stop it, please.

5) Educate Yourself

You don’t have to rely on articles like this to guide you. Go ahead and educate yourself about the gender movement by reading feminist works or doing a little googling. I’ll even give you a place to start:

·      We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

·      The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

·      Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

6) Call it Out When You See it

Leave the text thread where your work buddies share jokes that objectify women. Stop your friend from hitting on that lady who already turned him down. Ask your dad/grandpa/uncle/cousin to please stop talking over your mom/grandma/aunt/cousin at the family reunion. Then call them out and, if you’re comfortable or the situation is conducive to a conversation, explain why they’re wrong to do so.