There’s always been this idea that we have certain rules and responsibilities depending on which gender we happen to be. That we should act and appear in a certain way to fulfill stereotypes forced upon us from a young age.
I’ve always fought this idea for myself. I have the potential to be more than a mother or a wife if I want to. I want my skills to amass to more than cleaning my home and looking nice on the arm of a man. But, if I want myself as a woman to have the freedom to be whoever I want, I need to also give men the same respect. I can’t impose roles on them simply because they’re a man.
Equality goes both ways, so here’s a few things that I would never ask a man to do just because they’re a man.
1. Pay my way
Repeat after me: It is not my boyfriends/husbands/partners job to pay for everything I want.
Believe it or not, you cannot tell your boyfriend to pay for everything you want and then in the same breath claim you are a “strong, independent woman.” Why is it whenever you go out with a boyfriend, he feels like he’ll be judged for not paying? It’s an even split—a man deserves to be taken on a date, to be spoilt and even be bought some flowers (take it from me, some men do like flowers and they’ll be damn happy). Of course, I’m not going to say no if my boyfriend says he’s going to treat me, but he shouldn’t do it because he feels he has to do it to keep me.
2. ”Man up and stop crying”
‘Man Up’ is one of the most toxic phrases out there. If you need to cry, if you need to talk about something that’s upsetting you, I’ll grab you a tissue and hold you till you’re ready to stop. Everybody is entitled to feel, and you will never be less of a man in my eyes for letting a few tears out.
3. “Look like a man” (i.e ripped)
Defied muscles look great, they really do. If you want to hit the gym and get yourself ripped, do it and keep it up, because that’s amazing. But if you don’t, stop worrying! Your masculinity is not determined by how separated your abs are. Some guys can’t put on muscle, some guys can’t get skinny, they’re all different and they still look like men regardless. And you have to consider transgender men, too. Before their transition, they may not look how they want to or how society has dictated they should, but they’re still men. It’s that simple. If you’re a man, you’re a man, no matter your shape or size.
4. Give up being a father
If you’ve ever picked a child up from school and looked around while you wait, you won’t see a lot of men. And the ones you do see will usually be awkwardly standing away from the crowd as if they don’t belong. But they do. They are a parent, and wanting to stay home and raise your children is one of the most wonderful things a man can do. But so many feel judged and emasculated for making that choice, because it’s largely considered a girly thing to cook and clean and take care of children.
5. “Dress like a man”
There’s a quote from Eddie Izzard that I love. When asked if he wears women’s dresses, his answer was simply: “They’re not women’s dresses. They’re my dresses, I buy them.”
Now, I understand not every man wears dresses, but the point is still the same.
I wear trousers, I wear men’s shirts, I even wear a suit every now and then, and guess what? I’m still a girl in a suit.
I’m pretty sure that men can still be men underneath their clothes, no matter what the clothes are.
6. Like sports or “man hobbies”
We have an uncanny habit of giving everything we do masculine or feminine traits. Hobbies are no exception. If a man has a hobby, that becomes a man’s hobby regardless of what it is. If a man wants to cook, do hair, cross stitch or anything else, they’re damn well allowed to. I have several male friends that will quite happily sit and help me pick out an outfit and then search for a perfectly complementary eyeshadow, but then we’ll go and play Resident Evil as well. That doesn’t make them any less of a man or me any less of a woman.
Okay, so now everybody repeat after me: Men do not need to do anything to prove to me they are a man.