Now, to be a fully functional person is a lot more complicated than following 10 steps (some of which you hopefully already knew), but these 10 will certainly help make you a better person, and the world a better place.
1. We live in a patriarchy: the voices of men are considered more valuable. Your job is to help even the field.
Despite us males not always noticing it, we do in fact tend to be taken more seriously than our female counterparts. Although the pay-gap isn’t as wide as it once was, the fact women earn approximately 10% less for the same work should tip us off to the fact that the sexes are still not equal.
This means that us men should use this somewhat elevated position in the social hierarchy to help defend and fight for the rights of those who are taken less seriously; including women and minorities. If you catch someone in a group being disrespectful to someone because of their sex or ethnicity: use your position to confront it. Confronting social injustice will inspire others around to do the same, to trust themselves to take a stand in another context, and will help make bigotry or misogyny socially unacceptable.
2. You will always think your female friends find you more attractive than they actually do.
Us men appear to be evolutionary determined to believe women find us more attractive than they actually do, while women think we find them less attractive than we actually do (Bleske-Rechek, 2012). Comedically, this actually never occurs to the less reflective men in our society, who continually believe the women are “leading them on.”
Males pretty much consistently over-estimate how attractive their female friends think we are, and being aware of this can make your behavior towards your female friends more appropriate. This means actually making sure she feels the way you think she does before making any physical contact.
3. If you have a girlfriend, or wife, it is totally natural for you to still be attracted to other women.
Research shows that while both women and men maintain attraction to opposite-sex friends (keep in mind the study was done exclusively with heterosexuals) while in a relationship, the desire of a woman to go on a date with her male friend shrinks when she is in a committed relationship. For men, this desire does not particularly decrease regardless of his relationship status.
This means that feelings of attraction to other women are natural, nothing to be ashamed of, but definitely something to keep under control when within a committed relationship. It is not alright for a woman to try to force you to be ashamed of these feelings, but totally reasonable for her to be upset if you act on them. We are humans, and our self-control and reflective capacity is what separates us from animals.
4. Treating people badly doesn’t make you any bigger: it makes you deficient.
Within the culture of one-upmanship, putting down or “being better” than others is the heart of social contact. It’s the opposite of Ubuntu, and has become a vivid part of male culture both on the TV and in many circles. Empathy is a skill, and one that must be practiced and maintained: not being capable or willing to partake in it makes you deficient, not stronger. It is truly only the smallest of us that feel the need to make others feel small to themselves feel bigger.
5. It is not really ok to touch people whatsoever without their permission
With this, I am not referring to the touching of the elbow or shoulder (which are considered harmless, and very unlikely to remind anyone of trauma). I think any guy reading this will know exactly what I mean. Approximately 20% of women, worldwide, are estimated to have been raped or have experienced an attempted rape: this is trauma many women carry around but never express directly. If you do not ask, you have no clue if she is simply too scared to say no (which may even not have anything directly to do with you, but instead with her past).
When you cross physical barriers, especially without warning, you are risking not only violating the personal space of another, you are risking potentially triggering traumatic memories or further reinforcing negative male stereotypes. Your job is to simply be aware of this, and to consider taking precautions that make date-rape culture look as sick as it is.
That said, it is also not ok to touch a stranger on the ass in the club: just because they do not say something doesn’t remotely mean it is ok. And if someone says no: that means no (unless previously specified by that person as in roleplaying).
6. If you don’t regularly wear a condom, and are regularly sexually active: get yourself tested.
This is a no-brainer, but something many people still do not think of. There are a large number of diseases (viral, bacteria, and fungal) that can be transferred through sexual contact. This is a danger not just to you, but to your sexual partners. Do everyone a favor, and if this applies to you: get yourself tested.
7. If you reward women (or other men) for bad behavior, they become more likely to do it.
If you are unsatisfied with how women deal with men in this culture: don’t reward bad behavior. The same is true when dealing with other men: don’t reward bad behavior. Rewarding bad behavior increases the chances of it being repeated (operant conditioning), and is almost as irresponsible as yourself partaking in the bad behavior.
I recently was in a group outside during a party when a guy bragged of touching random women on the ass, another guy gave him a high-five. I proceeded to explain to both of them why that was totally wrong. After the discussion, they both got it, but had I not spoken up then his would have reinforced instead of corrected.
We all help socialize each other; we help show each other what is OK and what isn’t. Be responsible with this power, and do more than try to “fit in”. I do not see my job as fitting in, but instead to help solve cultural problems. The individual is the smallest unit of culture/social/political change.
8. Crying is totally fine, just don’t do it in public.
Now, there are times and places for emotions: during a fight is not one of them. But, outside of stressful situations themselves, crying can help reduce serum (blood) concentration of stress hormones. That said, emotions are meant to be dealt with, digested, and put into constructs that we use to better understand ourselves and our world.
No one is saying to cry over spilled milk, but if you feel horrible and otherwise are going to go postal: try crying for a little bit. It may help more than you ever gave it credit for. Our culture has not matured enough emotionally to really understand this fully yet, but it is something we need to discuss more openly.
9. The only thing you should be able to expect from a woman is respect, and a certain degree of honesty.
Spending time with a girl, spending money, or giving gifts, presents you with no special rights to a woman or her body. To expect something in return for giving, without making a deal, basically violates one of the core tenants of real love.We should give to others because we want to give, and not because we expect something back. To give for the sake of giving is not only more respectful, it is also saves quite a bit of psychological stress.
Expecting respect simply means that you should not tollerate anyone actively trying to tear you down, treat you as worthless, or refuse to acknowledge you as a real person. This is something you should be willing to give, and expect from, people. Do not expect it if you do not give it, though.
10. Nature is not necessarily your friend or enemy, but it is necessary and must be respected.
We are not in a “battle” with nature, nor is it always helpful to us. Our civilization is largely ignoring ecological limits, threatening biosphere stability, and even the long term survival of humanity itself. We are far more dependent on the purity of our water than we are on the quality of our oil. As Professor Guy McPherson famously said: “If you think the economy is more important than the environment: try holding your breath while you count all your money.”