Most men simply don’t realize that what they say or how they act is offensive. But supporting freethinking women doesn’t make you any less of a man.
It makes you more of one.
So here are five things to be aware of.
1. Stop with the body-shaming.
Shaming women because of their bodies is disgusting, rude, and quite demeaning. It doesn’t matter whether a woman is “too thin” or “too large”—assaults are still thrown at them. And it needs to stop.
Whether it is magazines screaming the “Lose the Belly Fat” diet or mocking Taylor Swift’s supermodel-no-booty body, it’s out there. And we need both genders to speak out against it. We need leaders in the field to end it.
2. Support female public figures and role models.
As guys, publically supporting women figures and role models rounds out our personalities further. It tells women that we see them as equals, but it also ensures them that we value their opinion.
Powerful women shouldn’t be intimidating. And if they are, well, then that sounds like a personal problem. Put your big boy pants on and take steps toward supporting movements to make women heard.
3. Be responsible with your comments, both online and offline.
Once you have those big boy pants on, it is time to start curating your comments on and offline. Men need to stop seeing women as sex objects. Advertisers need to create wholesome images that foster positive values of women.
Stop using language that sexually zone women. Try to think of male equivalent terms of the words “slut” or “whore”…and “man whore” doesn’t count. Also, using female anatomy terms as labels is just as wrong. It doesn’t turn anyone on. Sorry, not sorry.
4. Give women space.
Many women walk around feeling unsafe and always needing to be alert—especially at night or while walking alone. Being in close physical proximity to a male stranger can worsen this feeling. As men, recognize that this is not unreasonable for women to feel this way. A woman on the street doesn’t have a way of knowing if you’re worth worrying about or not, so don’t give her any reason to worry.
5. Don’t be a bro.
Am I suggesting that men cannot notice a woman for being attractive? Or even compliment her? Of course not. Men are visual; it’s how we are wired. But there’s a fine line between being respectful and taking things too far.
One of my closest friends—a firm feminist—called me out for overly noticing a plunging neckline while walking the mall. She stopped walking and simply said, “Don’t be a bro.” While it could be argued that the term “bro” has some demeaning connotations to it, that’s not the point of this article.
What it does point out is that women deserve more than a guy who sees them merely for their body and their breasts. And guys, we deserve to think better of ourselves in seeing more than just someone’s outward appearance.