I don't know about you, but I am so glad 2016 is almost over. While I am facing 2017 with a combination of dread and hope, I can't help but think of all of the ways we can try to make the world a little better in the new year; for ourselves, our kids, and our communities. Since things are likely to get way more challenging for women and non-cis men, I am going to share a few key New Year's resolutions that all grown-ass men should make, to help in that effort.
I am privileged to know many men, including my spouse, who are badass feminists and allies to the LGBTQ community. They are committed to helping themselves become more aware of their privilege and using that privilege to help the world become a better, more feminist place for all of us. However, even the most grown-ass men I know occasionally make mistakes. Whether it's something casual like telling their son not to cry or to be a "big boy," (because apparently showing human emotions is something boys just "shouldn't do), or something as ubiquitous as calling a strong, opinionated woman a b*tch; it's still harmful. (I say this as a woman who has completely embraced and reclaimed b*tch. TBH, I am not sure that I self-identify as one, because I really like it, or because I have been called one since I was a kid. It still hurts to hear.)
I want my sons to know that it's OK to cry, show emotion, have long hair, do "women's work," like "girl toys," or even to not identify as boys at all. I want my daughters to grow up to be safe, and to have the space and support they need to have and share opinions without being chastised, called names, or be told to "be a lady." Unfortunately, I can't keep them in a feminist bubble forever, and they are already learning more about our anti-feminist world every time they step outside. I need some help. Men, I'm looking at you. I'm hoping that 2017 will be a year when grown-ass men resolve to step up and challenge the systems, casual sexism, and their own privilege to make the world better for everyone.
"I Will Be A Feminist"
Be a feminist or become one, and not just to get dates or to look good on the internet. Grown-ass men learn how to be good feminists and stand up for others' rights, even when it seems like they have nothing to gain (or something to lose) by doing so.
I will tell you a secret: sexism hurts everyone, and feminism can make the world better for everyone.
"I Will Respect My Partner"
Grown-ass men already do this, I hope, but it's important to respect your partner. Learn who they are and who they want to be. Support the heck out of their dreams. Be a great partner and give them what you want in return.
"I Will Do What's Been Considered Women's Work"
Gender roles are crap. Grown-ass men learn to cook, clean, and change diapers. They recognize that traditional "women's work," like child care and emotional labor like being supportive and empathic, are actually pretty important. If we all share in these things, everyone wins. Women have more time and space to do the things they want and need, and men become great role models for their kids.
"I Will Clean Up My Language"
I'm not talking about swearing. H*ll, I swear like a sailor. F*ck that. I'm talking about using gendered language in the pejorative. Calling someone a girl shouldn't be a freaking insult. Calling someone a p*ssy for expressing emotion or telling men and boys to "man up" or not show emotions shows a lack of emotional maturity on your part. (Plus, it's incredibly detrimental.) Calling a woman a b*tch or asking her if she's on her period, because she feels comfortable enough to share emotions with you, is rude, disrespectful and, misogynistic. Don't do it.
"I Will Not Catcall"
Catcalling is not a compliment, and it makes women feel unsafe. We aren't here for your gaze, and we don't like it. Don't do it. Ever. Just don't.
"I Will Respect Boundaries"
Consent is important. Probably the most important thing we can learn and teach our children, actually. Boundary setting is freaking hard, especially when the person with whom we are setting boundaries is someone we care about. When people are kind enough to tell you what they want, what their limits are, or that you hurt them, respect their boundaries. You'll probably gain more space in their lives when you do.
"I Will Stop Mansplaining"
I know you are probably used to having the floor, and it's hard to sit back and let women and non-cisgender people have space to talk or express ideas, but try it for a change. This is especially important when they are sharing their own experiences. Your opinion might very well be important or right, but not everything is about you. Give us the floor once in a while; not just for us, but so our daughters learn that they can speak up and our sons learn to take a seat.
"I Will Communicate My Feelings"
Being a grown-ass person means owning your emotions and telling others how you feel, especially when it's due to something they said or did. What's more is that it's a way to show kids that it's OK to feel emotions other than happy and that it's OK to express how you feel, even if it's somewhat uncomfortable.
"I Will Stop Taking Up Too Much Space"
I have no idea where men learned to manspread — literally take up two seats on the train, or in my son's case, take up the majority of a king-sized bed — but can you please be conscious of your body, especially when it's next to mine, because #boundaries?
"I Will Never Say The Words 'Not All Men' Again"
I get it. It hurts when someone attributes something horrible to a group of which you are a part. However, when someone says they were assaulted or harassed and you jump in to say, "Not all men" are like that, it feels like you are trying to invalidate their experience or make the conversation about you. You don't get a cookie for being a decent human. Sit back and listen, because I promise, all women, girls, and non-cisgender people have experiences you can't possibly understand, especially if you are more interested in talking about yourself than you are with empathizing. Your silence will show them that you are a grown-ass man, without you having to say a word.