By Lindy Earl
I just listened to yet another video where a man yells at men. He rants for almost three minutes, using completely unnecessary expletives, about how messed up men are.
I listened to the video because it was kind of an assignment, but I wanted to turn it off after ten seconds based on what I was hearing. Who wants to subject themselves to a verbal thrashing, even if it’s not aimed at you?
Okay, some men are messed up. Vindictive. Unkind. Intolerant. Even abusive. The truth is that all those words can be applied to a number of women as well. So can we record videos that tell women to stop being jerks and act like ladies? Somehow I do not think that would go over well. People would scream. So why can we yell at men this way?
I have two thoughts today. First, let’s stop the beatings. Social Media is filled with memes and far too many of the ones I see are anti-men. Why is man-bashing an acceptable sport? There is so much research that can be extrapolated about the success rate of yelling versus encouragement to change behavior. Guess what? Encouragement outperforms screaming 100% of the time.
Second, let’s teach men, starting today, and starting with our own children and grandchildren, how to behave. Not just with our words, but with our actions.
If a male, of any age, uses inappropriate words, gently remind them that they are speaking with a lady. I did this just the other day. When the person on the other end of the phone used two expletives in as many minutes, early in our conversation, I simply said, “I remain a lady.” Our conversation lasted another 45 minutes and not once more did he use another 4-letter word.
Further, not only was he not insulted or offended by my comment, if anything he appreciated the reminder. He likes that I am a lady. He wants to be around ladies. He wants to be a gentleman and needs to be held accountable. This is one of the reasons we enjoy one another’s company. We can speak openly and honestly, and when I do something that bothers him he will tell me and I can choose to change or not. Sometimes we simply agree to disagree. That’s okay!
A friend told me yesterday that he didn’t learn how to accept a compliment until his mid-30’s. It reminded me that just last week in class, I heard a 14 year old boy receive a compliment and I had to teach him how to accept a compliment: a simple thank you.
It’s so easy to blow off a compliment, or get embarrassed, or make a joke. All those things insult the giver. Please don’t overreact and say you don’t see it that way. When you give someone a gift, if they were to blow it off or make a joke, and not accept the gift, wouldn’t you see that as an insult? A compliment is a verbal gift.
The boy the other day, and the 60 year old man, were simply never taught how to accept compliments. How do we expect them to know how to behave if we haven’t taught them?
Yes, I taught my sons to open my door and walk on the outside of the sidewalk. They do so with all females to this day. I’m sure, however, that there are a myriad of things I failed to teach them. Or maybe they learned but the knowledge has been knocked out of them over the years.
Making it even more difficult, not everyone agrees on what is acceptable behavior. For some women, having a door open is silly. I was one of those in my teen years. I found it inefficient, especially in the rain. What I failed to realize is that I was slowly adding to the deterioration of masculinity in the world. That’s a lot to put on a teenage girl, but I was part of the problem that exists today. By discouraging mannerly behavior, I helped obliterate it.
A gentleman recently tried to pay for his ticket to a game, but since I had invited him I thought it was my responsibility. I shudder as I think about my very rude, even offensive, behavior, IN PUBLIC, when this gentleman was just trying to be exactly that! I continue to learn. I did apologize to him and he assured me it’s all fine.
Now, speaking our minds gently is an acceptable form of teaching men how to be the men we want them to be. In addition, and possibly more effective, is teaching through our behavior. I do not mean standing by your door until he comes around and opens it, but I do mean lagging back as you approach a door so the man gets the gentle reminder. Just not grabbing for the door in the first place is a good first step and one I have to often remind myself.
I think when a man fails to act like a gentleman, the best thing I can do is excuse myself from the conversation. A sensitive man will realize there is a problem and will ask. Then you have the opportunity to gently explain that, as a lady, you prefer to not hear scatological (human body) humor. It’s 8-year-old behavior and I am long past that. I didn’t enjoy it as a little girl, either.
When ladies insist, through gentle reminders and physical cues, that the men in our lives step up and act like the men we know that they can be, and are deep inside, then things will change.
I don’t want to be one of the boys! I want to be a lady and have a gentleman treat me as such. If guys are used to treating women like just another guy in the room, and women allow it, telling ourselves that we are being flexible and understanding and don’t want to be THAT person who complains about men, then women are the ones responsible for men being the scalawags that society has allowed them to become.
Let’s stop yelling at men for behaving in ways we have not only allowed, but have taught. Women, act like the ladies you are inside and the men will gladly meet you more than halfway. They enjoy being the alpha males they really are.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant and currently accepting new clients and speaking engagements.
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