by Jessica Critcher
The Good Men Project has been heralded as “a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century,” and “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. That’s great. Masculinity needs to be talked about differently. Men need to do this. A good deal of feminism’s work can and should be undertaken by men and boys. But the premise of The Good Men Project still bothers me.
The idea of being good men is actually nothing special. Not raping, not beating, not oppressing, not objectifying, is not some phenomenal feat deserving of praise. That should be every man’s basic commitment to humanity. Anything further should not be done for applause, but as an effort to offset vast inequality.
Saying you’re one of the good guys doesn’t mean you’re exempt from male privilege, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you feel. It also doesn’t mean you’re immune from misogyny or making sexist statements.
So there’s that. I generally try to ignore The Good Men Project. Neutral is a fine place to be in my book. Continue about your business, I would say, if I thought about them. Continue to not actively oppress us, and I shall leave you in peace. But recently they managed to capture my attention and enrage me. And the behavior that caused it was definitely what I’d think of as “good men” behavior.
The article was titled Women Are Like Cats. I thought it must be some sort of joke. I tried to guess the punch line. Prior to the 20th century, neither of them were allowed to vote. There is still not a constitutional amendment to protect either of them. You can find naked pictures of both of them on the internet. Depending on how cute they are and what continent they’re on, people don’t care if they go missing or die in childbirth.
Alas, this was not a joke, but an actual title for an actual article with an actual list of actual tips for how a man should “treat a lady.” This “advice” includes:
“There is nothing worse than having sex with the woman you adore and realize she is indifferent to what is going on. Think of it like roasting a marshmallow. Too close to the flame and that puppy is going to burn up. It takes patience and a steady hand to get it just right.”
“With a dog, you can pet them whenever you want. A cat can be very affectionate as well, but they will let you know when they would like to be rubbed. At the right time they will purr, arch their backs, and show great satisfaction in physical attention.”
I have decided to create my own list, countering each point mentioned. Notice some of them don’t make much sense. That’s because the initial advice doesn’t make much sense either.
How to Treat a Human Being with Whom You Are (or would like to be) Romantically Involved:
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
Last but not least, don’t compare women to animals. Maybe an individual trait here and there, about an individual person if you really feel compelled to make a point. But don’t make sweeping generalizations about an entire gender. If you find yourself about to type a sentence such as, “Women are like cats” then take your fingers off the keyboard. Just stop. Aside from it not being a nice thing to do, when women are objectified, it contributes to that nasty rape culture I was talking about earlier. Also, I’m upset that I feel the need to say this, women aren’t like animals, they are human beings. If you needed to read that on a list of dating tips, I am very, very worried about the future.