Despite measurable progress compared to 20 years ago, many men still do not understand women - even if they think they do.
Recently, I've observed some especially awkward relationships between women and men. As a man myself, I'm obviously no expert. Yet, I think that with minimal effort, many men could improve their relationships with women if they would just adopt some simple resolutions that I now humbly offer:1. I will try to think of women first as human beings - much like myself - instead of rare, exotic creatures who defy explanation. Accordingly, I will give up all jokes that picture women as a different species that cannot be understood, no matter how hard I try. In fact, all sexist jokes lack subtlety, imagination and wit, so I will stop using them and listening to them.
2. I will try to understand better the terms "girl" and "woman" and apply the first only to young, unmarried females and reserve the latter for adult females. Incredible as it may sound, there is no such thing as a "gal," except in old Hoot Gibson westerns. I say this even though there are a number of women who also unwisely use the term "gal" to refer to themselves. The term "women" is always preferable to "ladies."
3. I will not use various obnoxious terms of endearment such as "honey," "dear" or "sweetheart" to address women I don't know well or not at all. It is condescending and suggests to a woman that a man has little or no respect for her.
4. I will not use the expression "women's lib" or "women's libber," since those went out of vogue at least 15 years ago and do not explain the attitudes of any woman in our society.
5. I will stop seeing myself as "the great protector of women" - a man who sees women as the weaker sex who should not be allowed to drive at night or go anywhere alone. Although I am concerned for her safety, I will accept her individuality and her right to pursue her interests without a constant male companion. In short, I will not deny her any freedom that she does not deny me.
6. I will refuse to accept sexual stereotyping wherever I see it.
7. I will try to find out more about the roots of sexism. I will read more about women and their problems and attitudes. In a group, I will confine my conversation to subjects that the entire group - women and men - want to talk about. I'll try not to talk so much about myself and actually listen to what women are saying - and I'll make eye contact when I do it.
8. I will spend more time in groups that include rather than exclude women, realizing that all-male experiences are limited. And I will include and make comfortable any woman who finds herself in a group that is otherwise all male.
9. I will not exercise non-existent authority over any woman.
10. I will try to learn not to think of professionals in terms of gender - and never to assume that a lawyer is a man and a nurse is a woman. And in a group of professionals, I will never assume that a woman should be given secretarial-type duties. In interacting with a secretary who is a woman, I will not suggest that she perform extra tasks that demean her role, such as providing coffee or snacks or shopping for my wife.
11. I will not interrupt two women in conversation under the assumption that what I have to say is more important by virtue of my being male.
12. I will avoid thinking of women and men in domestic "roles," i.e., that women do dishes, make beds, take care of children, while men take out the trash and fix cars.
13. I will avoid making sexually suggestive comments to women and will not regard single or divorced women as "easy prey" - simply because they are single or divorced.
14. I will not touch any woman unless I have a warm, understanding relationship, meaning that that touching is mutually appreciated - instead of condescending or sexually exploitative.
If any man would ask himself if any of these apply to him in any situation, he might be surprised.
I'll do better if you will.