Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pro-Feminist New Year's Resolutions for Straight Guys

by Bill Patrick, New Brunswick (Canada)

With the New Year almost upon us, I thought it might be a good time to consider some resolutions that we straight guys can make in order to ensure a more just world for women, and in the process come closer to fully embracing our own humanity as well. (Some of these might apply to men who don’t identify as heterosexual, but being a straight guy, it’s the only population I feel competent to make these suggestions for...) So, here goes:

As straight men, I suggest that we make the following resolutions:

1. To take care of ourselves. For far too long, many of us have been neglecting our physical, mental, and spiritual health. And for many of us who have women in our lives, we have been all too quick to leave these responsibilities in their hands. Women often make our medical and dental appointments for us, and they insist that we take better care of ourselves. And what do we do in response? We get mad at them for nagging us! So let’s take back the responsibility for doing the things that are designed to keep us happy and alive. If we want the women in our lives to be there for us, then we need to ensure we are doing the things that will allow us to be there for them!

2. To take responsibility for maintaining and preserving our social relationships. Over the years one key difference that I have noted between gay men and heterosexual men is that a lot of gay men actually put effort into maintaining and enhancing their social networks. Many straight guys simply do not. I know of very few hetero guys who perform the social maintainance tasks of sending out holiday cards, buying gifts for the nieces and nephews, remembering birthdays, or organizing small dinner parties or get-togethers. Let us stop leaving to our female partners the work of our remaining socially connected!

3. To listen to women. I mean really listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t instantly refute. Don’t criticize or mock. Just listen. Listen to women as if they were human beings who are capable of rational thought and incisive comments. Because that is what they are. And if we shut up long enough, we might just learn something!

4. To ask women for their input. Even better than just listening when women volunteer something, we should actively seek out their opinions! Then we are guaranteed to learn something!

5. To do the laundry correctly. You and I both know that we all know how to do the laundry. It’s time to stop feigning ignorance. And for those few guys who actually don’t know how: you can learn to do it! It’s a lot easier than changing the oil, tapping a keg of beer, fixing a leaky toilet, or hooking up that new plasma t.v.

6. To eliminate misogynist words from our spoken vocabulary – and from our internal dialog as well. When a woman cuts you off in traffic, don’t call her a “bitch” – not even in your mind!

7. To provide our own condoms and offer to use them before our sexual partner has to ask us to. Just put the damn thing on. We owe it to her. We owe it to ourselves.

8. To refrain from any sexual activities that objectify, exploit, injure, or demean women.

9. To only have sex that we know for certain is consensual. That means that she isn’t drunk, confused, or fearful, and that we aren’t, either. That she hasn’t been manipulated or bullied into it. And neither have we.

10. To fully honour any child support commitments we may have – no matter how much we may dislike or disagree with the children’s mother. Even if we think their mother is a nasty person, do we really want our kids thinking the same thing about us?

11. To settle any conflicts we have in a nonviolent, non-abusive way. This should go without saying. But the reality is that society would be a lot better off if more of us lived this way.

12. To tell another man that we love him. And truly mean it. If we don’t have another man in our lives whom we can say this to, then the resolution should be to find one. There are billions of men on this planet. Certainly we can all find at least one who is deserving of our love and affection!

13. To work to eliminate our homophobia. Homophobia destroys our connectedness with all other men. It stops us from loving each other. And we need to be able to love each other deeply. As men we are deserving of being able to give and receive such love – and not just from women.

14. To learn more about feminism. There is always a lot more to learn about feminism. Feminism is one of the most powerful global liberation movements of our time. We owe it to ourselves, and to the women of the planet, to learn more about it! Feminism is incredibly diverse. Chances are, we won’t agree with everything we encounter. But at least we will know enough to make informed (rather than knee-jerk) responses to the various elements of the struggle for women’s liberation.

15. To keep at least some of these resolutions. One of the ironies of compiling this list is that women are actually far more likely to follow through on their resolutions than we men are. So let’s surprise everybody and keep at least of few of these pledges! We owe it to women. We owe it to society. And we owe it to ourselves. 
(Transmitted with Bill's permission - Feel free to repost)

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