By Ada Zhang
When we think of the word misogyny, we most easily recall drastic, obvious crimes against women. Rape is misogynistic. Forbidding women in Saudi Arabia from driving is misogynistic. Telling a woman to stay in the kitchen is misogynistic. Unequal pay between men and women is misogynistic.
But the same patriarchal mindset that permits misogyny on a large scale also allows misogyny to slip into our everyday lives.
Acts of misogyny — no matter how subtle or small — should not be tolerated or condoned. The term “boys will be boys,” which has often been used to excuse seemingly harmless misogynistic behavior, must no longer be a part of our vernacular.
Men, for your own wellbeing, I’ve compiled a list of things NOT to do in order to avoid being a petty misogynist.
1. Don’t Pester Women to go on Dates with You
There is a difference between persistence and harassment. I understand and appreciate your intrepid spirit, but if I’ve already said no and you keep asking, then you’ve crossed the line from flattery into blatant disrespect.
When a woman says no, take her seriously. Don’t just assume that if you keep asking she’ll eventually say yes.
2. If a Woman Rejects You, Don’t Ask Her if She Has a Boyfriend
If I reject you, it MUST be because I have a boyfriend, right? Or else, I’d totally take you up on that date.
My rejection of you doesn’t require legitimization by there being another man in the picture.
If a woman says no to the dinner or the movie, don’t automatically attribute her response to the influence of her boyfriend. She may have a boyfriend; she may not. It doesn’t matter. She’s an individual who makes her own decisions.
3. Don’t Complain About the Friend Zone
By complaining about being friend-zoned, you’re basically saying that a woman is of no value to you as anything other than a potential mate.
You don’t want to be my friend? Fine. That’s your problem. But don’t go around feeling sorry for yourself for being “friend-zoned” while pitting the blame on me. I didn’t know my friendship was such an insult to you.
Think of it this way: you should be honored to be a part of anyone’s (yes, even a woman’s!) friend zone because it implies something positive about your character.
4. Don’t Judge What A Woman is Wearing
Women shouldn’t have to modify their exterior appearance to please men, whether that means putting on more clothes or less.
You think leggings are immodest? Then you don’t have to wear them. You’re disappointed when the women at a party aren’t in skin-tight dresses? Tough luck, dude.
In mini skirts or in burkas, women in all types of dress are worth getting to know. At least have a conversation with us before judging us with your arbitrary standards. (Women definitely need to improve on this, too!)
5. Don’t Downplay a Woman’s Emotions Simply Because She’s a Female
Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am emotional. But am I emotional because I am a woman? Now that’s a dangerous claim to make.
It’s dangerous first and foremost because it takes away the validity of my emotions. Secondly, it’s dangerous because it supports this notion that being emotional or having feelings is a feminine thing, so God forbid men cry during Marley and Me because that is just not manly.
I think being able to feel emotions is a beautiful and totally human thing, so it’s pretty awful for me to hear that it’s actually a defect of my gender.
I do acknowledge that men have been conditioned by society to actively—and even aggressively—pursue women. And yes, women are constantly portrayed in movies as overly emotional, so it’s not so far-fetched that men would characterize women this way in real life. And perhaps religion plays a part in teaching us that certain clothes are attached to certain values or a lack thereof.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s not a black and white picture where men are fully to blame. Women are even misogynistic toward one another. (More on this topic next week.) However, now that we’ve pinpointed some problems, we can go about rectifying our behavior, because it’s never too late to try and treat one another with the dignity we all deserve.