This past week, I was reading a big share of news that just made me sick.
Numerous news articles about the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner largely lauded his business sense and ‘feminism’, with nary a reference to the pornography he introduced, his demeaning views of women, and the numerous lives he adversely affected, thanks to those viewpoints.
Thankfully, Ross Douthat’s article in The New York Times and journalist Clare Bruce’s Facebook article were among several that managed to put some much-needed perspective to Hefner’s checkered career.
Then, just as I was getting used to that account, came the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual escapades upon women, many of whom were well-known and respected Hollywood actresses and personalities.
That sick feeling came back to my stomach and I thought to myself: “With these tales, you can’t blame women for thinking that all men are jerks!”
I wholly commend the women who came forward to expose Weinstein’s heinous deeds, many of which took place over a period of decades (decades, not months, not years, but decades!). I wished they had come forward earlier, but the power of the Weinstein could not be underestimated.
After all, the Weinstein Company and Miramax were responsible for many movies that struck Oscar gold and also touched people’s heartstrings — think Silver Linings Playbook, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, and many more.
But the response of men who said they had heard about the indiscretions, but paid little attention or did not even raise an alarm (Brad Pitt and Corey Feldman, kudos to you both!) was disturbing.
The more I read, the angrier I became, and with good reason. This had to be confronted.
Guys, we are our own worst enemy. Yes, I’ve said it. Many idiotic things we do scarcely transcend the image that many women have of men in general. Namely that we are immature, dopey, self-centred, arrogant, entitled, privileged, condescending,…..the list goes on, but you get the drift.
As a son (and brother and uncle) who grew up under the leadership of my parents, I cannot help but ask, “What happened to the Man who was supposed to be the head of the household, the leader in life and love, the decisive yet consensus-favouring personality, that is supposed to be guiding the family and workplace?”
I am sure that that Man is not extinct but we have allowed circumstances to suppress our creativity and voices to such a level that we become ridiculous instead of effective.
If we are not to evolve towards becoming the subjects of black and dark comedy, or the “permanent loser” personalities in rom-coms, we will need to ditch this blueprint and get back to basics.
How do we do this, you may ask? Well, we need to seriously note these steps if we are going to reclaim our rightful posts as confidants, fathers, leaders, boyfriends, brothers, husbands, colleagues, leaders, in-laws, and much more besides.
- If you screwed up, take responsibility and apologise. An apology makes nobody small.
Make your apology sincere, and don’t justify yourself by saying “I’m sorry, but …”. If you suck at apologies, just say something along the lines of“I am sorry for xxxxxx. I will do better next time.”
- Men, don’t read your wives’ or girlfriends’ minds. If you think that your significant others are unhappy, ask and find out why. They may think you are dopes, but believe me, they will welcome the attention and they will open up. Which leads to point 3…
- When the significant others (or better halves) open up to you, LISTEN!!! Drop the phone and distractions, and keep your eyes and face on her. Give your women your undivided attention. You may think that their account is boring, but KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, AND YOUR EYES AND EARS OPEN!
- If a woman tells you about an unpleasant account or sexual assault, listen and don’t discount it. Ask questions and probe further but NEVER, EVER dismiss it.
- If point 4 comes up, stand by her and offer to help report the matter to the relevant authorities. Your solidarity and friendship will mean so much more than just lip service.
- If your friend’s character is attacked, speak up. Don’t hesitate but speak up for them, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Your only allowable bias should be the BIAS OF RIGHT AGAINST WRONG!
- Don’t judge people from their external appearances. Look into their souls and find the real persons behind the persona.
- Be at your best, regardless of who is watching (or not watching!). Aim for your character instead of your reputation. REPUTATION CHANGES BUT CHARACTER REMAINS!
- Be open to constructive criticism, regardless of whether it is negative or not.
- Don’t live for “CV moments” i.e work and career achievements. Instead, focus on “eulogy moments” i.e, the legacy you want to leave those around you, the life you want to share with your family and friends and loved ones. You are not going to go to your death bed wishing you had spent more time at the office.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate. True and honest relationships are based on honest and transparent communication between partners. Such transparency requires vulnerability and honesty, which can be terrifying for men. But if your partner is the One, he or she will reach out with empathy and respect. And if that is not what you get, refine the technique…but don’t drop it or give it up.
- Sacrifice. Give and take. You love rock music and she digs the ballet. You are Democrat and she is a registered Grand Old Party member. But are these differences such that you cannot give and take? (not sure about the Democrat and GOP one, though:)) Why don’t you buy two tickets to the ballet and go with her? She may not reciprocate with the rock concerts but she may let you turn up the volume when you play your next Metallica album:)
- Don’t just say you love your partner. Show it. Getting coffee for two? Why not include hers with her favourite cookie? She feels cold? Share your coat or give her your gloves. Keep in mind what she tells her friends about her likes and get them for her.
Share your dreams and invite her to do the same. Ask for opinions and don’t assume. It is hard work but the dividends will be priceless!
- Your partner is the apple of your eye. Not your kids, not your in-laws or parents. Your partner is the apple of your eye. Keep that in mind and act accordingly.
- Keep your eyes (and libido) for the apple of your eye alone! The late Paul Newman said it best when he said: “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”
Men, what do you think about these thoughts? I would love to hear more from you.
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