Stop saying you don’t like condoms (and 29 other ways men can make women’s lives easier)
On International Women’s Day 2019 Amy O'Connor suggested a few ways to make things better for women in your life
Safe sex is sexier. Photograph: iStock
To quote the great Tammy Wynette, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.
Some of our woes are outside of our control – period cramps, unsatisfactory hosiery, menopause – but others are easily ameliorated.
Men, that’s where you come in. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, some men out there might be asking themselves, “Am I being a true male ally? Is there anything I can do to make women’s lives easier?”
The answer to the latter is probably yes. Here’s a list of simple things you can do to make our lives a bit more tolerable.
1 Don’t be afraid to identify as a feminist. Recognise that feminism benefits everybody – yes, even men – and ignore those who equate it to “man-bashing”.
2 But don’t expect Brownie points for doing the bare minimum either. So you’re a feminist but stay silent when friends engage in “locker room talk”? That don’t impress me much. Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk.
3 Consume more art and media by women. Did you know women can write books, make podcasts and direct films? And did you know that men are allowed to watch, read or listen to them? Crazy, I know.
4 Watch women’s sports. And not just when Ireland are in contention for a gold medal.
5 Stop bragging that you don’t know who [insert random celebrity here] is. Not knowing Cardi B is neither a talent nor a virtue.
6 Don’t dismiss women as shallow for saying “like” or “um” too much. In fact, just stop policing how women talk.
7 Stop saying that you “don’t like” condoms. I don’t like paying extra for guacamole, but I make do.
8 Please don’t use our expensive beauty products. Run out of your six-in-one shampoo/conditioner/face wash/body wash/shaving cream/pepper sauce? Do not under any circumstance blindly reach for the €33 shampoo purchased because it was once recommended by Haim. That stuff is precious gold.
9 Embrace your inner Instagram boyfriend. There is nothing worse than asking someone (read: a man) to take a photograph of you only for him to half-heartedly snap four photos and completely miss your light in all of them. If Barack Obama can do it, so can you.
10 While you’re at it, learn your own angles. Anyone who has ever combed through Tinder will tell you that men are largely incapable of taking a flattering selfie. There is a reason why every discussion about a man includes the phrase, “He doesn’t look like his photos.” It doesn’t have to be this way. Make like Simon Harris and ask a woman in your life to teach you the art of the selfie.
11 Ask women about themselves every now and again. You would be surprised how often men will be having a conversation with a woman and won’t once think to ask, “What about you?”
12 Try have a smidge more spatial awareness at gigs and festivals. Don’t stand directly in front of women a foot shorter than you and proceed to block her view and mosh. It’s a buzzwrecker.
13 Another spatial awareness tip? Don’t insist on walking a few steps behind a woman late at night. Pass them out or cross the road. A small gesture that makes women feel infinitely safer and secure.
14 Stop saying you’re “babysitting” when you’re looking after your own children. I wasn’t aware that The Baby-Sitters Club was about adult men minding their own children for a few hours on a Saturday night.
15 Buy presents for your own mother. She birthed you. The least you can do is buy her a jar of Oil of Olay yourself.
16 Get better at remembering the names of your friends’ kids. How is it that you can recall with perfect precision who scored the winning goal in the 1995 soccer League Cup final yet you can’t remember Gary’s daughter’s name?
17 Lift up the toilet seat. Don’t force a woman to go through the indignity of sitting on a toilet seat covered in speckles of wee.
18 Don’t point to Magic Mike and the Diet Coke ads as evidence that men and women are objectified equally. Are you really trying to equate two pieces of pop culture with centuries of women being objectified?
19 Don’t complain about women having body hair. Chances are you’re not bald and hairless from the neck down. Why would it be any different for women?
20 Offer your seat to pregnant women. Whether you’re on the Luas or in a maternity hospital.
21 Recognise that you don’t have to reply to every tweet. Especially if you’re mansplaining or trying to fact-check a woman’s joke. Sometimes a like or retweet will suffice.
22 For the love of God, learn the difference between a vagina and vulva. This stuff is on Wikipedia, fellas.
23 Don’t tell a woman she doesn’t know how to smile. Women are allowed to look glum or neutral. It’s not their fault if that makes you uncomfortable.
24 Read and share articles on issues affecting women. Very often, it is left to women to consume and disseminate stories relating to #MeToo, gender discrimination, domestic abuse, reproductive health and more. Educate yourself on the issues affecting the other 50 per cent – and tell your friends.
25 If a woman accuses an actor, musician, comedian or athlete you like of sexual assault, don’t automatically assume she is doing it for fame or money. There are far easier ways to get rich and famous.
26 If a woman shares a bad experience with a man, don’t immediately get defensive. Don’t #NotAllMen her. Listen to her and take stock of what she’s saying.
27 Don’t preface a statement with “As a father of daughters . . .” It shouldn’t take having daughters to recognise that women are human beings who deserve to be treated with respect. Learn to care about women who aren’t blood relatives.
28 Vote for women. Curb your own biases and support female political candidates.
29 Refrain from slut-shaming. Stop reinforcing archaic double standards and demonising women for enjoying sex. Don’t look down on sex workers either.
30 Don’t be that bore who think he’s clever by asking, “When is International Men’s Day?” It’s November 19th. Next.