Moving on to the last 5 tips of our #40TipsForMen series:
40 Tips for Men: Tip #36
Recognise, Acknowledge and Leverage your privilege.
Now these will have largely been covered in other tips, but i think this little three prong process can be a harder one. And imagine men might be a little less defensive about getting this one that white people, perhaps because it is spoken about a lot less.
The idea of man privilege is this: What benefits, access, respect, accommodation do you receive simply because you are a man?
If your immediate answer is “None!” then i would encourage you to pick three women in your life ask them if they would answer the question for you on your behalf.
One example might be if you walked into a mechanics workshop to get your car fixed and there was a man and a woman standing behind the counter. Typically most of us would go to the man with our question because of the mindset that men obviously know more about cards than women. The man behind the counter has not done anything differently to the woman. He was simply a man which afforded him a different level of respect. or expectation.
This happens in businesses and business meetings, this definitely happens in churches [that’s a whole other book of posts], this happens in social situations.
In the same way as with white privilege [which a lot of people miss] the purpose of mentioning it is not to bash you or make you feel bad. It’s not to cause you guilt or even to try and suggest you give that privilege away.
The purpose is threefold:
 Recognise. Can you see it? Do you declare that this is a thing? Can you spot places where it may be more prevalent than others?
 Acknowledge. Say it. Speak it out loud. Admit to it. Not as a sin or a bad thing you did, but as a reality you see. “I can see that being a man gives me certain opportunities, respect, access etc that a woman does not typically get.”
 Leverage it. This is the important one. While you often can’t give privilege that is associated with an aspect of who you are [white privilege being a prime example] you can often use it to help balance the playing field. When someone defers to you as the expert in a conversation you can deflect it back to the woman who is as capable as you or maybe more so. Choosing not to be on a panel if there are no women represented and suggesting a few names of women who would be incredible in your place. And so on.
We live in a deeply unbalanced world in so many areas and much of the work that needs to be done is for those who are advantaged in all the different ways to start using their advantage to lessen those gaps.
Recognise, Acknowledge and Leverage your privilege.
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40 Tips for Men: Tip #37
Don’t be part of objectifying girls/women.
This on the back of a suggestion by Nono Njongwe:
‘This is for roles where adults are parents/teachers/coaches/ youth leaders etc. Stop feeding into the objectification of girls/young women. This can be in the form of shaming daughters for having gotten harassed, feeding into the “you brought it onto yourself” rhetoric.
Also showing favouritism towards the pretty/good looking/well dressed child/teen over others (who don’t present the same way) damages both boy and girl children negatively in how they view and value women.
All in all men (and women) need to be mindful of all the unsaid toxic ideas/vibes that they are feeding into as fathers/father figures.’
There is a lot in here and well worth thinking about and having some conversations around. Back in the day [and maybe still today] this would happen in the jokes around the braai and the conversations during the sport-watching. But i think it happens a lot more in the Whatsapp groups of sports teams, school dads and Neighbourhood Watch whatsapp groups, especially if those are predominantly male groups.
This is a tip that needs to move into the professional spaces of entertainment, advertising and media and so where you are part of those you can start raising your voice and calling for change.
But this also needs to feature in our day to day conversations and interactions, particularly the ones we have about women [and as Nono mentioned, girls too]
As a sideline question on this tip i would desperately love to know: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT BEAUTY PAGEANTS ARE STILL A THING IN 2019? This one blows my mind. Does anyone think this doesn’t contribute to the problem?
Nono also mentioned the idea of victim shaming and as men we would really do well to do some work in seeing to understand the idea of ‘rape culture’ and spend some time and energy educating ourselves on that. That when a woman is raped it is because a man raped her and not because of what she wore, drank, said, did and so on.
We need to be more bought in to helping create a society where women are no longer objectified.
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40 Tips for Men: Tip #38
Don’t raise your hand. Just don’t!
We have already covered how raising your voice can be an act of violence in tip 34. And you would think and hope this one would not have to be said. But given the statistics of violence against women and children in this country, we might just need to go there.
It is never okay to hit a woman or a child! So if you are doing that or have done that in recent history, you need to get some help.
Especially if you find yourself making some kind of excuse or justifying it in any way – “It wasn’t a big deal” “I didn’t mean it” “It was just this one time”. Or anything else. You need to get help.
When it comes to rape and assault, there is a concept called ‘rape culture’ which you may or may not have heard of – it is things we say or do that help to contribute to the prevalence of rape in our country and world. So the primary message we need to hear when a woman is attacked or raped is this one directed to the man in question: Stop attacking women!
Nothing she wore, said, did or drank makes it okay. Men need to stop attacking women. And an attack can be defined as anything you say or do to a woman that she did not give enthusiastic consent to.
It doesn’t matter if she is your girlfriend, your wife or your daughter, you want to be a real man? Then stop raising your hand to her. And get help if you have.
We live in a violent country. One of the biggest signs of strength you can show as a man is to stick your hand up and say, “I need help. I have a problem. I need to change.” So if this is you, please take it seriously and address it today. Make a plan of action right now.
If you are a man who knows someone who hits people or has hit a woman or a child, then it is on you as well. We cannot stay silent because that makes us complicit and part of the problem. If it’s a cousin or an uncle or even a grandfather, it is still not okay. If it’s a guy on your sports team who has told you about it in a whatsapp group, you need to take action.
We need to be leading the way in non-violence in a country and a world that rushes too quickly towards it. It can start with you and me. And then the people around us. Let’s call ourselves towards a better more peace-filled communal future.
Do not raise your hand, except to say if you need some kind of help. Stop hurting women and children.
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40 Tips for Men: Tip #39
This one is a little more specific to men who are in a relationship with a woman…
Do your share of the responsibilities.
This one comes on the back of a number of comments which i think all relate to this in some way:
Lara Pietersen: Choosing to have unprotected sex places a responsibility on you to actually be present and raise a child. Men need to start taking responsibility for their reproductive choices.
So basically, if you father a baby, parent a child!
Ross Rowley: I agree that the fathering thing is really important. Also perhaps something about choosing to be a father then places a responsibility on you to actually be present and take an active role in your child’s upbringing, even if parents are separated. Just a thought.
Lara Pietersen: It’s more than that. if you don’t WANT to be a father, make sure that you take responsibility for your reproductive choices. Use contraception or get a vasectomy. Otherwise, accept the consequences.
Lara Pietersen: There is a lot at the moment about dads being parents or babysitters. Paternal leave is now a thing. Something about society finally giving men the opportunity to play an equal role in the household and in raising children, and not leaving the burden of this to women alone
Basically if it is called ‘babysitting’ when the dad does it and being a mother when the mom does it, then you have your wording messed up. It is parenting whether the mom or the dad does it – a dad cannot babysit unless he is helping out another family he knows.
Crystal Warren: Housework – if you share space with women, are you sharing the work, and not seeing it as a huge favour if you do the dishes or something.
This is huge. You both dirty the dishes and the laundry and live in the house that gets dusty and messy and so it should not be the woman’s responsibility to keep things clean. Having been in contexts where either Val works more hours or i work more hours, there is definitely something to balancing that out when it comes to housework. So when she works longer i do more of the cleaning. This should be something you figure out together and not something anyone takes for granted.
i would add a piece about going out. Sports events or heading to the pub for a drink or poker night and so on are often things that the men in a relationship will do. Are there equal opportunities for the woman to be going out, spending time with her friends or pursuing her hobbies, or is this more of a one-sided thing?
Take your share of the responsibilities.
Hythem G. Betts: I love the part about sharing the work. I would like to add, that once you find that balance there is still room for doing each other favors. But that’s going above and beyond the balance, to give the other person extra space (e.g. if you’re agreement is “one cooks the other washes”, you can cook and do the dishes)
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40 Tips for Men: Tip #40
This is the last tip in a list of 40 tips or opportunities to change and become a better man. If you don’t see yourself as trash then why would you not eagerly embrace any opportunity to learn and grow and become a better person.
As men we tend to be slow to admit we are wrong and slow to take legitimate criticism on board. i think this is an ‘as people’ thing but seems to be a little more prevalent in men.
Ask people you trust and whose love for you is absolutely certain to call you out on areas of your behaviour that are problematic. Invite accountability when it comes to your words and jokes and stories and attitude and eyes. Surely you want to be a better man. i know i do!
Not all 40 of these tips will apply to you in equal fashion – then read through and select the ones that do and work on them. Or be brave and choose a woman you trust and ask her to sit with this list with you and highlight any that she feels you need to work on. Perhaps do this with a guy friend first because the emphasis on the work here needs to fall on men. We can’t expect those who have been oppressed and hurt by us to do all of the work. But once you have worked through the list with a few guy friends, then inviting a woman to look through it with you might be more about picking up blind spots than getting her to do the work.
This list is also not exhaustive. These are not the only 40 points you need to work on, so read and listen and be on the lookout for more opportunities to change and grow and learn.
Commit to a #NotOnOurWatch mentality that says you refuse to let anti-woman sentiment or action happen in front of you [online or offline] uninterrupted. Even if you are unable to stop it or make what feels like a significant difference, commit to at the very least stepping and saying, “That is not okay!” but then also doing what you can to help, protect, care for or love.
We have to be teachable in a world that has not traditionally been all that loving, kind or protecting of women, so that we can be a part of helping create a new world that is.
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There you have it – 40 Tips for Men asking “But what can I do?” when it comes to women in particular, or just being a better man in the world. IF you missed any of the tips, or if you want to return to the beginning and work through this list again, click here.