I published this quasi-misandrist manifesto on my now-defunct Tumblr a few years back, under the title “4 Simple Rules for Men Not To Be Garbage Humans.” I wrote it in a fit of pique and frustration after seeing some men I regarded pretty highly do and say surprisingly discourteous things in my presence, posted it up online, and promptly forgot it existed… until a few days ago, when I got a notification about a reply to the post.
“okay great what’s 5-9 now that this is fully integrated?”
Such a simple question, but it kind of blew my mind. People want more rules? These are fully integrated? In what world? But I’ve been thinking about it, and I think they’re right. Every man I’m friends with has fully integrated these rules into their life. Seemingly innocuous comments or actions that would have left me seething silently a few years ago almost never pop up on my radar anymore. And what’s more, when I’m in a social situation and I notice some flagrant violation of these rules, I’m no longer the only person who seems to notice it. The corrections are coming from other men now. Y’all are policing yourselves. I’m so proud. We’ve come a long way.
There are no Rules 5–9 because these four things are really all it takes to not be completely awful, but I’ll see about putting together Stage 2 Super Advanced Allies Suggestion list. I think you’re ready for it. But for now, without further ado, the original list…
1. Be Less Loud
Strive to not dominate any conversation you’re a part of. When you’re in a group, try not to be the loudest voice — both in terms of decibels of volume, and most vocal. Let others speak, and speak more softly when you do speak. Do not make any non-word noises to express your bodily functions — at least not in public, or around others who haven’t invited such sounds. Any and all grunts, groans, moans, and sighs are unwelcome.
2. Take Up Less Space
If you’re in a crowded public transit space (crowded = more than half of the seats are taken), try to constrain your body to the width of the seat you’re in. If you’re on bench-style seating, keep your knees no wider apart than your shoulders. If the width of your body is naturally greater than the width of your seat and you don’t have any physical constraints, stand. When standing, take off your backpack or put your bag between your feet to reduce your bulk. If you can’t stand and your girth requires you to impinge on the seat next to you, just keep your elbows in and knees together, and make a visible effort not to sprawl. It becomes apparent that you’re not deliberately being discourteous, and that’s good enough.
3. Try Empathy
In at least half of your interactions with others, try to imagine that their emotions or reactions are more important than your own. Try to sense or guess how another person may react to a given situation. If you have a female-identified partner, this may be easier for you — you’ve most likely become adept at predicting her reactions. Congratulations, that’s empathy. If you don’t have a close enough relationship with another person that you can intuit what someone else may be feeling at a given point in time, this is an even more important skill for you to learn. Empathy improves with practice, so strive to put others first at least 50% of the time — more frequently is better, until you reach a point where your mental wellbeing suffers. Most people find their own happiness increases when they put the needs of others first, so you may be pleasantly surprised with the results of this exercise.
4. Never Judge a Person’s Body
This should not need to be said. Even in this list, something this basic shouldn’t require inclusion. However, it’s become clear that even relatively Good Men need a reminder of this rule. Your commentary on anyone else’s body is not welcome (unless you have a willing partner who has invited it). Do not make a remark about someone else’s body. Do not judge another person’s body. Never make an appraisal on any part of another person’s body unless they ask you to — and even then, tread lightly and refer to Rule #3 before you respond. And remember: Celebrities are people too. People you only interact with on the internet are also people. This rule applies to everyone you come into contact with, without exception.