I’d like to say I’m shocked by how many prominent men have been caught with their pants around their ankles, as the saying goes, but I’m really not, nor should I be. By and large, men are pigs and when they get power, they test their level of piggishness to see what they can get away with. Hence the lack of surprise. I will acknowledge the problem seems a lot worse among right-wing men, but the fact is, there are relatively liberal men who also don’t know how to treat women with respect and dignity. Case in point: Bernie diehards, who were misogynist as hell. There is little comfort in knowing that Newt Gingrich, Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert and Roy Moore, among others, are bigger pigs than many of the liberals who have been caught recently, like Harvey Weinstein and Anthony Weiner. And really, look at how Matt Lauer treated Hillary last election. It does make one wonder.
Apparently, while I thought the concept of misogyny and sexual harassment was easy for most men to understand, I was giving them too much credit. Therefore, as a public service and because I am a helper, I am writing the following primer for men on how to treat women in the workplace.
Let’s start with the basics in the workplace:
- Don’t be a douchebag. If you wouldn’t like what you’re about to do to be done to a special woman in your life, like your wife, mother, daughter or really good friend, then don’t do it to any other woman. Every woman you come in contact with is someone’s wife, daughter, girlfriend, cousin or friend, and you are insulting a lot of people when you treat them with disrespect.
- Women are in the workplace to work. I wish this wasn’t such a controversial statement, but apparently, it is. You go to work because you like the work (most of the time) and to receive a paycheck, so you can pay bills. Well, guess what? That’s why every woman you work with is there, too. No woman goes to work with the purpose of getting laid. The fact that you might be there for that purpose is a function of your being a man, which is your curse, not hers.
- Women don’t dress nicely for work because she wants you. Women dress for themselves, not for you. If a woman wears something that is very attractive, she is doing so because it makes her feel good. It is okay to compliment her in a very generic way. It’s okay to say, “That’s a nice dress.” It is not okay to say anything even remotely sexual, like “That dress really clings nicely to your ass,” or “That bra makes your tits look amazing.” Again, imagine some guy at your wife or daughter’s job was to say something like that; how would you feel?
- If you wouldn’t say it or do it to a male co-worker, well… This should be easy to figure out. Just because a co-worker is female doesn’t mean she’s to be treated differently. If you wouldn’t grab a male co-worker, or call him a “nice piece of ass,” then don’t say it to a female co-worker, either.
- Respect all co-workers equally. It’s okay, perhaps, to separate out co-workers based on their ability to do their job, but it is never okay to treat them differently based on criteria that constitutes discrimination. Respect women who work in the same place and treat them with the same level of respect you treat everyone else. And if you don’t respect anyone, it’s probably time to change jobs.
Again, it’s hard to believe this has to be written out loud, but people like Matt Lauer, Louis CK, Mark Halperin, John Conyers and yes, even Donald Trump, have apparently not learned any of this. Be better.
The problem isn’t just at work, so here are some pointers about how to treat women in general:
- Virtually no woman wants to see your junk. Okay, I know a few women who would, but they are the exception to the rule. See, men, just because you salivate over mammary glands and vaginas doesn’t mean women can’t wait to see your penis. Therefore, when you send a woman a “dick pic” because you think she really wants to see it, you are being delusional. It’s not a sign of intimacy, it’s a sign of ego. Besides; do you realize how easy it is to re-send a picture to a thousand or a million people these days? You’re not just saving the women you like from indignity and embarrassment, but you are likely saving your own.
- Women don’t want to be touched by you. And those who do will happily let you know. If you are one of those men who just likes to touch strange women, try to change. Women will let you know when they want you to give them a hug, or when they want you to embrace them. They almost never want a slap on the ass and very few would like you to touch them on the breasts or between the legs. Again, if you wouldn’t like a strange man to touch your wife, mother or daughter, especially “certain places,” then don’t assume it’s okay for you to do so to someone else’s wife, mother or daughter.
- When a woman wants to have sex with you, she’ll let you know. Until then, piss off. You are not entitled to have sex with a woman just because she likes you, or because she trusts you. The fact that she likes and trusts you should make you more careful about being sexual, not less. And let’s be clear about this; unless she expressly gives you permission, you may not have sex with her. If she changes her mind, even if you’re halfway through sex, you stop. Period. Men have to understand that women and men do not see sex the same at all. Sex is far more consequential for women and not just because they can get pregnant, although that’s a pretty good reason. If a woman doesn’t give her express permission, the second you continue having sex with her – any kind of sex – it is rape. And you do not want to be a rapist.
- Never hit a woman. Real men simply do not hit women. Frankly, real men generally don’t hit anyone. The last time I hit anyone in anger was when I was 11. There is no reason to hit a woman. Ever. If you ever feel the urge to do so, walk away. (And while you’re at it, don’t hit your kids, either.)
- Women want to be treated like they matter. Respect for women should be like respect for anyone else. When you meet her, show her respect. If she subequently proves undeserving of yor respect, then withhold it, just as you would anyone else.
- If a woman is an asshole, it’s not because she’s a woman. Refrain from misogyny of all types. If you don’t like Ann Coulter, fine, but don’t make it because she’s a woman. Don’t use female-based epithets, like bitch and a lot worse, like words that begin with “c”. There is no need.
- Don’t patronize women. Trust me when I tell you; you might be smarter than a woman on some things, but it is not because she is a woman and it most certainly is not because you’re a man. Treat her as if she has a brain and give her the level of dignity she deserves.
This isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a start. I am tired of having to apologize on behalf of men for the way they treat women and I am tired of being disappointed by people I used to look up to because of the way they treat women. Women are human beings, and we need them. Treat them as if they matter.
Also published on Medium.