Thoughts on being a real man

Thoughts on being a real man

This is a status i posted on Facebook today which i thought would be a bit more easy to share as a blog post and i hope that men [in particular] who agree with what is written here, will share it on your wall and via your Twitterer accounts as a sign of saying you agree and are committed to being part

Menfolk, listen up.

On more than one occasion, my wife, Valerie, has been out enjoying a drink, maybe listening to a band or just hanging by herself in a bar or restaurant and a guy [or guys] have invaded her space with an air of entitlement [something gives me the right to approach a single woman and enter her space]

Point number 1: the problem is NOT because she’s married – all that adds to the issue is that there is going to be one extra angry person when the story is told. The reasons it is not okay to insert yourself in a woman’s space is not only because she is married or in a relationship.

A guy has said he will buy her a drink or joked with his friend that this is his future wife or just dived into the space [sitting at her table] and started speaking to her as if he was welcome.

When she has made it clear that he is not welcome, he has carried on, ignoring her and on occasion there have been inappropriate statements made etc etc

Point number 2: No means no. Don’t assume someone is flirting with you or playing hard to get. Whatever the “No!” is and relates to, that should be final. Apologise, move along, stop doing what you are doing, physically remove yourself from the space.

The third point has to do with the power dynamic that typically is at play in those kinds of interactions where physically and societally the man holds the power and so there is an inherent pressure that exists – the woman should not have to be the one exhibiting strength to remove herself from a situation that might feel scary or unwelcome. Men, we need to get that. At the moment in society we carry a certain power and when we insert ourselves into someone’s space there is the additional fear that accompanies that of “What if I say no? Will this man turn violent? [in words or actions]

The fourth point is that for the very first time the other night when i was walking through town with Val i experienced a man on the opposite side of the street wolf whistling at her. i have heard her tell stories of it happening on multiple occasions and so i know it to be true, but this was the first time i was there – which didn’t make it any worse – it is about as awful a thing as can be – but it really broke me to know that Val and other women have to endure this all the time.

Point number 4: It is not a compliment to whistle at someone across the street or even i think [women can help me on this one] to pay a compliment to someone you don’t know [can also feel invasive and threatening] – it can be a fearful thing because the woman doesn’t know what will accompany the unwanted attention – will you follow her, will you attempt to do anything to her… so keep your whistles and your “Hey Beautiful”s to yourself.

Women in this country live with so much fear and we really need to do better as men at #NotOnOurWatch‘ing those kinds of things when we see them. Guys, if you are in a space and you see other guys [whether you know them or not] doing these kinds of things, inserting themselves in situations and the woman looks uncomfortable, then please dive in. Assert yourselves. Use that power for good. Redirect.

Race issues in South Africa continue to be huge and in need of work but at the same time [Both/And in play here once more] we guys need to be dismantling the patriarchy – we can handle meetings and conversations and general friendship vibes another day. But let’s start with these.

Lunar cartoon real man

[For more thoughts on what it means to be a man, click here]

By |2017-09-15T07:51:09+00:00September 8th, 2017|#NotOnOurWatch, activities, challenging thorts, change the world|10 Comments

About the Author:

Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.


  1. Don September 11, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I understand what you are saying. A single woman at a bar – a normal man who is single and looking for a woman would look to see if the woman has a wedding ring on or not. Most decent men would see the wedding ring and then it means “off limits”, “no go”, “back off”. If a man tries his luck with a married woman then that surely is immoral. I am sure we can agree on this.

    Now if a woman did not have a ring on her finger, a normal man could assume that she is unmarried. But then, maybe she is married but doesn’t wear a ring. Maybe she has a boyfriend. So the general rule for men then is if you are attracted to her, at least say hello or a quick small talk. Then back the hell off. If the woman is interested, then at least you have given her the window of opportunity to decide if she wants to pursue it or not. I think at this point, after one or two lines, it should be clear to either party what both sides want. The man should for example say, “Hi, how you doing”, or “Hi, can I get you a drink?”. A woman if interested should reply,”I’m fine and you”, or “no, I’m okay thanks for the offer”. The guy might push it further, “Can I sit here with you?”. The woman should make it clear then in a polite way, “Sorry, you seem like a nice chap, but I’m taken, married, just looking to chill or relax”. This way it ends the conversation and the guy is not too offended. If a woman says “F off you ass…” then it kinda brings about bad vibes. If the man persists and says,”he, but your husband is not here, or your boyfriend is not here… lets….whatever”, then the woman should be more firm.

    Basically the man and woman should both be polite. The woman should also be polite, and firm if need be.

    I don’t think its cool to wolf-whistle at women either.

    I think it also depends on the size of a bar or establishment. If its a vast pool hall or a vast space, then I’d say within 3-4 meters is kind of in the woman’s space. If its very crowded, then that might reduce to 2 meters. If a very crowded bar, then its difficult to not be within the space of the person.

    I think in a street environment, a man should never approach a woman. This is very intimidating for a woman. However in a bar, it is more acceptable as its a part of our culture. 1. Check ring finger 2. Check boyfriend 3. Small talk 4. Stay or go. These are the cardinal rules for the gentleman.

    I think in a street environment, if a man approaches a woman. A simple hi, bye is the best. If he persists then “No, please back off… “, then go to a crowded place and ask someone for help.

    In a pub environment, politeness is the best way for a woman to deal with this.”Sorry, NO, I’m not interested. I am married” should be used if the guy persists. Or simply “I’m not looking to meet anyone tonight” would also work if unmarried.

    Women also approach men in bars, so it does work both ways. Bars are very different to the street though.

    • brettfish September 11, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

      Thanks Don, especially your street comment is important – often it is not so much the intention or motivation as the perception and a strange man approaching a woman in the street is very likely to be a thing of fear. So being aware of the message you might be sending and at the first sign of some kind of “No!”, acknowledging that politely and moving away.

  2. […] well and generated a whole lot of good conversation and was shared all over the internet and so i turned it into a blog piece to make it easier for people to pass […]

  3. Cliff September 11, 2017 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Street is a NO GO! Only a stalker would try this kinda move. I suppose at best, “Hi”. No other lines needed.

    A bar – single woman. This is a traditional pickup place. Guys get lekker dronk and if they come across a single woman, it is usually going to be lines. But a woman shouldn’t be at bars without her husband. You must go with your woman to the bar, so you the one who should get up to going out. Bars for single woman, I mean what the hell, obviously guys will try their luck. So a woman cant complain. If you cant handle then get your boyfriend there.

    Also women should never accept drinks as it could be spiked. Women must also not accept any drinks as it only encourages then this type of things. So women who want to get laid are to blame as most guys buy them drinks then later end up in bed. So this makes the guys try this move again next times. Women must blame loose women then for this tradition. Men are just men.

    So women if you married, you have no place sitting at bars. If you do then wear a ring. But expect men to talk to you.

    What decent married women dress up and sit at bars by themselves. Even to watch bands, its not on. If a guy talks to you, you can expect this so don’t complain.

    • brettfish September 12, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Google “Rape culture” Clifford. You are the problem here. With this kind of thinking which is offensive, both to women and to me.

  4. […] couple of days ago i compiled this post with a number of suggestions for us men in terms of treating women better. It was spread around a […]

  5. Oh man, we got a problem - Brett Fish September 13, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

    […] been having some conversations online about what it means to be a real man, and how to treat women better. And while the choir is cheering us on, it is quite obvious that […]

  6. Nita Coetzee September 14, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

    This is a great post. Thanks. The guys in the comment section need to get #woke. (Brett, please consider capitalising your I’s.)

    • brettfish September 14, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Nita. i have and i stick with my choice not to. One day when i am dead and my works are literary classics teachers will point to it as being indicative of some smarty pants kind of thing.

      But largely it’s just a reminder how small i am…

  7. Nita Coetzee September 14, 2017 at 11:24 am - Reply


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