Today we have a wonderful guest post from Feminist Ninja born from a desire to educate men about how to navigate physical space in a patriarchal world. Brilliant stuff!
If you're a guy who wants to be as anti-oppressive as possible, follow these rules as closely as possible.
(These rules are also fab because they are not cisgendered specific. If you present as men and are read as male, you benefit from patriarchy in many ways and should keep this little voice in mind when being out and about in the world).
Please do not:
Holler, cat call, or whistle at me. (It just makes you look really uncreative and like an ass.)
Howl like an animal at me. (I am a human animal, but I don’t appreciate simulated wolf-like mating calls.)
Take up more than one seat on the bus because you have sprawled your arms and legs. (I think most of you are capable of sitting with your legs together and your arms by your sides — you’re probably not.)
Stand with several other men in the middle of a crowded hallway or sidewalk and expect Womyn to move around you. (We have been moving around you for centuries, so try something new and move out of the way for us. Also, this is just a little something called “etiquette” regardless of your gender identity.)
Look anywhere on my body except at my eyes unless I expressly invite you to do so. And if you look at my eyes and I don’t look interested - STOP looking. (Just because I might look like someone you’d be interested in, does not mean that I am automatically interested in you. I do not exist for your pleasure.)
Call me “sweetheart”, “honey”, “love”, “darling” or any other term of endearment if I do not know you and I have not asked you to do this. (You would likely not do this to your other dude friends, so do not do it to me.)
Interrupt me or any other Womyn when she speaks. (You take up enough space, and it’s likely that you do not understand the impact you have when you take up air space with your words — otherwise you wouldn’t do it.)
Stand too close to me on the bus, in the grocery store or anywhere really. (If I like the way you smell, I might consider moving closer to you, but that’s my choice.)
Talk about Womyn in a way that is anything but absolutely worshipping. Especially do not talk about a Womyn, or make a gesture to a Womyn walking by, and then look at me for some sort of acknowledgment of your actions. (Womyn are magnificent, if you don’t think so something is wrong with you. I will not validate you treating other Womyn like objects.)
Try to compliment me on how I look in inappropriate spaces or at inappropriate times. (If I do not know you and you do not know me, then don’t assume that I will enjoy having you make comments about my body.)
Get angry or annoyed if I do not respond warmly to your compliments. (If you do, you are demonstrating that you have no respect for my boundaries and are therefore the asshole I thought you were to begin with.)
Make jokes about violence against Womyn. (Jokes about VAW is a form of violence.)
Walk too closely behind me, especially at night. (It is a myth that most Womyn are assaulted by strangers in dark places at night, but it happens. Womyn have every right to be aware of, and concerned for, their safety. If you don’t understand and respect this, you don’t respect me.)
Tell me that I do not experience oppression as a Womyn. (As a man, you will never have these experiences, and that is exactly the point.)
Scratch your balls and / or your dick. (It looks gross and I don’t scratch my vag around you. It doesn’t make you more manly. It looks like you have no manners.)
This post originally appeared on Feminist Ninja