Breaking the “Man Rules”
I came across this thing on my Facebook feed:
It was posted by an older, conservative friend, a high school teacher, who I still count as one of the most influential and inspiring mentors I’ve ever had in my life. He encouraged me as a writer and independent thinker, and so I was a bit shocked to see him endorsing this kind of baloney.
“Manly” men may say I’m a humorless bitch, but here’s the thing: if we keep thinking that “harmless” sexist jokes like these are funny, we keep passively condoning the harmful sexist crap that actually happens in real life. They may not see it, because as men they’ve been brainwashed by the media and the culture to not notice it, but it’s there.
“Manliness” as it’s been construed by patriarchal societies like ours is a very limiting concept. It aims to keep men emotionally stunted, insecure in their worth as humans if they don’t conform to the “manly” standards. There’s no such thing as a “man card”, and it can’t be taken away. But this thinking has been so ingrained into the cultural psyche, it can override the insights of even the smartest man, if he allows it.
Anyone else posting this would’ve been promptly unfollowed and ignored, but this is my dear teacher we’re talking about, and I couldn’t just let him blindly go down this line of thinking without at least calling out at him. This point-by-point refutation is for him, and for any other man who has bought into this propaganda, to the detriment of their relationships, and probably humanity as a whole.
Let’s start with the title of the piece: 21 Men Rules That Girls Should Know.
These are not Men Rules, they’re Man-Child rules. This is evident right from the get-go because they’re addressing “girls”, not women. A man who is self-actualized, secure in himself, and wants a healthy relationship wants a woman, not a girl, and they don’t dismiss grown women as if they were children.
1. Men are not mind readers.
Women are not mind readers either, though we’re often more open to our intuition and sometimes it may seem like we are 😉
The reason women are often afraid to directly say what they mean, especially if they want to give a critique or ask for something, is that they fear a negative response from manly men, who tend to channel all their emotions into the only acceptable one, the manly one.
Reasons men often don’t say what’s on their mind is that they don’t even have the vocabulary for expressing their emotions, because they’ve been forced to choke them down as sacrifice to the altar of Manliness. Emotions are womanly, and they act as if womanliness is a shameful thing, because the manly men bully them, and often women do, too. This comes from an internalized subconscious programming telling them that the Feminine is weak, and inferior.
My favorite term for this is “toxic masculinity”, and I believe it is the root of all of humanity’s problems: poverty, war, our messed up healthcare system, rape, greed, and selfishness.
2. Learn to work the toilet seat, you’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down. You don’t hear us complaining when you leave it down.
The seat AND lid should be down when the toilet isn’t in use to prevent stuff from falling in, and to stop pets from drinking the water. That’s why there’s a lid on it. It’s a public health issue more than anything else, really. Besides, you’ll be sorry you left it up when you go take a poop in the middle of the night and end up with your butt stuck in the bowl! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
3. Crying is blackmail.
Crying is a natural emotional response that men also have, though much less frequently than women because it’s been conditioned out of their behavior and made “unacceptable” by the devaluation the feminine part of human nature. When you see her crying you get a pang in your heart… what is it? Is it… sympathy? We’ll come back around to this on point 6.
4. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
Agreed, people should ask for what they want. But see point 1 above. Women have learned to not make direct demands, if they do, they’re perceived as “bossy” or “bitches”. You can’t have it both ways. When she asks for something, listen, don’t dismiss it as “nagging”.
5. “Yes” and “No” are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
Only if the question isn’t open-ended. Anyone who answers an open-ended question with “yes” or “no” is either hard of hearing, trying to be funny, or doesn’t know how to communicate in a civilized and productive way.
6. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
Sympathy is, again, a natural human response that’s been bullied out of the manly man, by conditioning a response of shame and unworthiness whenever it arises. If you’re in a relationship with someone, they might expect you to care about what’s going on in their lives, and that includes the crappy parts.
7. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
Nope, we should strive to speak with integrity, choose our words with care, just in case we have to swallow them later. A wise person should be able to look back on statements they no longer agree with and revise them with the experience they’ve gathered since they first said them, growth is totally allowed, guys!
8. If you think you’re fat, you probably are. Don’t ask us.
If she’s wondering if she’s fat, it’s because the media has brainwashed us into thinking that the worth of a woman is in her looks, and the ideal look has been distorted through advertising into an almost-impossible standard for ADULT women to attain. The Powers That Be want to keep us insecure and subservient, infantilized (they want that for men, too, hence the conditioning for emotional immaturity), and spending a TON of money in cosmetics, face creams, eye creams, cellulite creams, manicure, pedicure, waxing, hair color, liposuction, collagen injections, botox, eye lifts, face lifts, butt lifts, boob lifts, and all the other stuff I probably forgot about. Oh, let’s not forget about the lasers! Do you see the real, beautiful person living inside that body? She’s feeling insecure and looking for validation, tell her she’s beautiful and to stop worrying about that bullshit that only feeds The Corporate Machine.
9. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
See point 7 above. Be clear with what you’re saying if it could potentially be misinterpreted, choose your words with care when dealing with potentially hurtful subjects. It’s what effective communicators do.
10. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
When someone criticizes how you’re doing something, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re insulting you as a person, so don’t take it personally! Teaching is a way in which the nurturing instinct presents itself, so more likely than not, your lady is thinking she’s helping by giving you tips if she sees you doing something inefficiently. I reserve the right to offer advice if I think there’s a better way, but don’t have the physical strength to do it myself. If I can do it myself, don’t worry about it, I’ll be over here doing it.
11. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
I agree with this, HUGE pet peeve. I will most likely tune you out. Dudes talk during shows or games too, by the way, this isn’t behavior confined to the female half of the species.
12. Christopher Columbus didn’t need directions and neither do we…
Don’t even get me STARTED on Christopher Columbus, that depraved genocidal megalomaniac. Do you really want to be comparing yourself to him? He got to America while trying to get to India! If you want to get to where you’re going and you’re lost, let’s listen to someone who knows, ok? Or use Google maps. We have the technology.
13. All men see only in 16 colours. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a colour. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
Not all men. Scientists figured out that training the brain to distinguish colors is a language skill. Not all men in western cultures possess this skill, because they don’t have to pay such close attention to their looks and outfits, but painters, printers, graphic designers and probably a lot of other men who are observant know way more than 16 colors. It’s all a matter of having the words for the colors, then your brain can tell the different hues apart. There’s some super interesting research in that field, here’s a good article on it.
14. If we ask you what’s wrong and you say “Nothing”, we act like nothing’s wrong. We know you are lying, but it’s just not worth the hassle.
Not worth the hassle? You must not care about her feelings. Why are you with her, then? Once she figures it out, she’ll leave. Avoidance isn’t conducive to a healthy relationship. “You’re visibly upset, something’s bothering you,” could lead to a difficult talk, but that’s how relationships grow.
15. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear…
This one’s true. If you really don’t want to know, don’t ask. But, again, this applies to everyone, not just women.
16. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… really.
This one’s also true, but see point 8 above. Give her a genuine compliment on what she’s wearing and grab the keys.
17. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football or motor sports.
Sure, if that’s really what you were thinking about. But it’s only fair that at some point you’ll have to listen to her talk about her interests, and whatever her friends have gotten into. Tit for tat and all that.
18. You have enough clothes.
19. You have too many shoes.
We are expected to maintain a certain image in order to be considered desirable by society’s standards. Clothes and shoes are how we keep trying to fit the standard. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
20. I am in shape, round is a shape!
Agreed, round IS a shape, and a very cuddly one. Don’t bitch about her being fat either.
21. Thank you for reading this, yes I know, I’m sleeping on the couch tonight… but did you know men don’t really mind that? It’s like camping…
Yeah, the couch isn’t too bad. After all this, you’d be sleeping on your friend’s couch, in my book. Unless you’ve read my refutations and were able to see the truth in them, and are ready to stop buying into the crap they’ve fed you to keep this imbalanced system of power going. Let’s talk, human to human, and that includes listening to each other.
Emotions like sympathy, compassion, love and caring for each other are not the enemy. They are the compass that point us towards the next step in our evolution as a species, as beings who are fully aware of their place in the Grand Scheme of Things, who embrace the differences among us as the seed of new ideas, co-creators of our environment and true stewards of the Earth, all of us thriving peacefully.
So, let’s say you’re a man who is ready to break free of the limiting box you’ve been told you must fit into. How can you reclaim the emotional and intuitive parts of yourself, so you can feel balanced, whole, and empowered as a human being?
Verbalize your feelings.
This may be very difficult at first, because it goes against the deeply ingrained conditioning you’ve been through. You’ll have to break through the wall of shame that’s been keeping them suppressed and that can be really uncomfortable. Not to mention, you may find yourself frustrated (or even angered) by the inability to find the right words to describe your feelings. Don’t be afraid to use analogies and metaphors, even if they seem a little weird at first, they can help you get a firmer grasp on what you’re trying to describe.
Start a journaling practice.
You may find writing helpful to get the “wrong” words out of the way, so you can hone in on the right ones. It can also be an invaluable tool if you find that talking to someone else about your feelings would be too intense to start. You can keep it under lock and key if you’re really worried about someone else reading it.
The 10 journaling prompts in this article are a GREAT way to start!
Consider the Tarot
Each of the 78 cards of the Tarot deck represents an aspect of the human experience. Getting a tarot reading can sometimes help put into words the feelings and experiences we haven’t been able to pin down yet, through the power of symbols that speak to our subconscious mind.
After you get a reading, if you find it helpful, you may want to start reading the cards for yourself. They can be a GREAT tool for self-exploration. The book Tarot For Your Self by Mary K. Greer is a great companion for this journey, if you decide to take it!
Theresa Reed’s upcoming Tarot Coloring Book promises to be a GREAT way to learn the cards, too! And, hey, if you get yourself a box of 72 colored pencils, you’ll end up learning 56 more colors! 😉
Seek the help of a licensed counselor or another qualified healthcare professional
If you’re experiencing an unmanageable amount of stress or distress through this process, please, do talk to a professional! This can be really painful stuff, especially if you’ve never allowed yourself to be emotional before, and it can feel a bit overwhelming until you learn how to handle your emotions in a healthy way. There’s no shame in this. How can anyone be faulted for not knowing how to handle something they’ve never really dealt with before? We’re not born knowing everything. We came here to learn.
If you made it this far, there’s hope for you yet.
YAAAAAAY! I believe in you!
I know you can break free from that box they want to keep you in, and be ALL of you who are!