I think the single most frustrating part of being a woman must be when men don’t take you seriously. As I was explaining to my sister the other day, this problem springs from a refusal to listen to and understand women’s issues. But as a strong male ally, I always completely get what women are going through. Why, just take the basic biological fact that, for around three days every six weeks, a woman’s uterus produces cramps, hot flashes, ovipositor pain, nosebleeds, and eye strain. This is junior high-level knowledge, yet it’s routinely dismissed by men as inconsequential or exaggerated. Well, as a man who once took a soccer ball to the testicles back in high school, I am never going to accuse women of hyperbole.
I emphasize with social issues as well. For example, I recently asked a woman out for coffee. She was on the subway, quietly reading a book and listening to music, so she struck me as reasoned and intellectual. And yet, after making it abundantly clear that I merely wanted to take her out on a date and possibly have sex with her (I respect women too much to beat around the bush), she called me a “creep” (!). Talk about street harassment! If I, as a man, can’t get through a typical day without being called something that nasty, I can only imagine what women are putting up with.
That’s also why I always let women at work make their point in full before I explain why I’m correct. That’s just common decency; we’re not going to progress anywhere as a species if we aren’t willing to listen to each other and hear opposing viewpoints.
It’s the same reason I believe it’s so important to listen to men who think we should ban abortion and who distrust women who claim to have been the victims of sexual assault. Obviously I disagree with their abhorrent views, but if women aren’t willing to listen to men’s views on women’s bodies, how will we convince those men that they’re wrong? How will women make progress without the help of men? After all, they have the invaluable support of men like me, and I’m confident that I’m making a difference.
Some might argue that instead of assuming what women need or want, men should simply ask them, let them speak their truth, and actually listen. But quite honestly, that’s some straight-up bullshit. Asking a woman how she’d like to be treated makes it clear that you think of her as a woman, and I personally strive to ignore gender distinction completely. It’s literally the least sexist thing I can do, and any reasonable, non-hysterical woman will recognize that.
Remember, men, women rely on us to draw attention to the issues they face every day, and I believe this essay about how well I understand the problems of women serves to accomplish that very goal. Because if we don’t help women, who will?