As part of writing non-consent and gender degradation erotica in a responsible manner, each month I present a Reality Check article, touching base with safe, respectful, equitable behaviour in kink, in relationships, and in the world generally.
This article is first published on 19 November 2020 – International Men’s Day.
I’m writing this as a cis guy speaking primarily to other cis guys, because that’s what I feel qualified to talk about. But if you get something out of this, no matter who you are, that’s wonderful.
Guys in my position have a lot of things going for them in society. We get a lot of advantages, a lot of privileges, and get to do a lot of things on “easy mode” that other people have real struggles with. I acknowledge that, and you should too.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that we need a hand with. So, in honour of International Men’s Day, here’s ten quick pieces of advice for men.
1) Don’t stress about what it means to be a man
If you identify as a man, you’re a man. That’s the beginning and the end of the issue. No one else gets a say in that. There’s no scale of manliness that you have to live up to.
All the things that you might think of as being a “good man” are just things that are getting confused from other identities. Be a good partner. Be a good father. Be a good professional. Be a good dom (if that’s your thing). Be a good person. Be healthy. Be generous. Aim to improve yourself. But the idea of a “good man”, separated from all those other things, is just a way for people to control you in toxic ways. Don’t buy into it. Don’t pass it on to others.
2) Stop making fun of people
When I was young, making fun of people was natural. I was quick-witted, and frequently both a leader of my friendship group and the “funny one”, and if someone set you up a straight line, you delivered the first insult playing off it that came to mind. It was funny. We laughed. It was reasonably equal among my group (I think), and the fairest targets were those who could give as good as they got.
But it’s shit. Insult jokes are a trap. We use these jokes to define cultural boundaries and mores. Insult jokes tell everyone who hears them what they should feel ashamed of. They tell us who the outsider is. They make us afraid to not conform.
Every insult joke we tell is just building a box for ourselves. Once you’ve roasted someone for, say, sitting with their legs crossed, you’ve just lost the ability to do that yourself.
Change the culture. If you’re smart enough to be funny, you’re smart enough to tell a joke that doesn’t belittle someone. And you’ll be the one who benefits.
3) Women don’t need to be tricked
They just don’t. You don’t need to trick them into dating you, or having sex with you. You don’t have to lie to your wife or your partner. Honest relationships are normal, and they’re better.
Pick-up artists and game theory are bullshit. They don’t lead to satisfying relationships, and rarely to satisfying sex, and they *do* lead to a bad reputation and possible sexual assault charges. The people pushing these things are unhealthy, and they’re aiming to make you unhealthy too. Talk to women with honesty, respect, and confidence, and they’ll reciprocate.
Relationships where you don’t feel you can be honest aren’t healthy. Go seek some relationship health, or consider leaving.
4) Put some effort into your relationships
If a relationship is important to you, put some effort in. Going on a date? Dress up. Wear a suit. In a long-term relationship? Put regular dates in your calendar to do something special. Take your partner on holiday. Buy her flowers (everyone loves getting flowers, even if they don’t know what to do with them when they get them). Do your share of the housework, and them a little extra.
Effort shows. Yes, people worth being with will love you for who you are, but the “who you are” that they love should be a person who makes them feel valued and valuable.
5) Get your sexual health checked
Go get a test for STDs and other sexual health issues twice a year, or more often if you’re having casual sex with multiple partners. Your GP can do it. Also, most cities have specialised sexual health clinics. Usually this just involves pissing in a cup and waiting for results.
Don’t leave this responsibility to women or – worse – to no-one at all. Part of the price of fun sex is showing up for the less fun bits, and this is one of them. It’s normal, and responsible people do it, whether they’re monogamous or otherwise.
6) Specialised services exist to support men
Almost all urban areas have specialised support services for men. Some of them are specialised welfare supports – prisoner’s aid services, rehab services, homelessness services – but others are just aimed at getting men to talk to and support other men. These can take the form of shared craft workshops or “men’s sheds”, community gardens, advice services, or a range of other formats. Some are specifically targeted at men in relationship stress, experiencing abuse, or suffering recent break-ups or financial difficulties.
Government services in your area are almost certain to be able to direct you to a range of these programs. Alternatively, if you get in touch with me, I’d be happy to do the research to find you something in your area.
7) Don’t worry about your sexuality
If you’re a straight guy, you don’t need to prove it. If you’re less than straight, you don’t need to find a label for yourself.
Two guys who define themselves as “straight” may have literally zero sexual interests in common. They may like different kinds of women. They may like penetrating different holes (or no holes). One may be dommy and the other subby. Sexuality is a circular spectrum, and “straight” is just a word used to define a pretty diverse collection of points on that spectrum.
Anyone who’s going to give you a hard time for not constantly affirming that you’re straight isn’t someone you need to be spending time with. Your sexuality is a matter for you, and it doesn’t matter if you fit a particular label, or even if you don’t fully know the limits of it yet.
8) MRA (men’s rights activism) groups are predatory
Let’s be clear: there are real, genuine groups who do important work standing up for men’s rights. They do exist, and they do selfless charitable work every day. Groups like these have made a real difference in their communities by helping out men in crisis, and advocating for policy and supports for men who are falling through the gaps.
You can tell the legitimate groups because (a) they do actual, real things in real communities to support specific men; (b) they aim to make society better for everyone by supporting people in need; and (c) they don’t blame women for their problems.
Anyone who is telling you that women are the problem is not your friend. They are not helping you. At best, they are people who have had bad experiences and who are suffering, and who need actual help and empathy. More likely, they are actively predatory, and are trying to exploit you or radicalise you.
These aren’t activist groups – they’re cults. They actively recruit using manipulative tactics that specifically target men in stress or in crisis. Avoid them at all costs. If you’re having hard times, get a psych appointment, and look up the real support services for men that exist in your area.
9) You’re not ugly
Seriously, you’re not.
Overweight? I don’t care. Born with a deformity? I don’t care. Old? I don’t care.
Everyone is someone’s fetish. Everyone is someone’s kink. And, most importantly, confidence is sexy. There is literally no one who is physically unable to get a ton of attention from their desired gender.
Put some effort in. Wear a suit. Believe that you’re worth fucking (and yes, I know that can be harder than it sounds). Smile.
It probably won’t happen immediately. And you probably won’t get the specific person you’re crushing on (give up on them, it’s not going to happen). But if you act like you’re worth somebody’s time, people will treat you like you are. And that applies no matter your size, your face, or any other aspect of your appearance.
10) Listen to other people
Particularly women. Particularly ones you disagree with. Don’t argue, don’t debate. Ask respectful questions if you’re genuinely unclear, but not dickish ones designed to prove a point.
You’re doing this mostly because that’s what being a respectful human who tries to better themselves involves, but at a more mercenary level, how are you going to have incredible mindfuck sex with a woman if you don’t know what’s in her mind?
But beyond women, listen to people who are different from you. People from different countries, cultures, religions, genders, sexualities. People from the other side of the political spectrum. You really don’t have to agree with them, but learning how they form their arguments certainly won’t make you any stupider. Go find a hobby that seems ridiculous and pointless to you and spend some time listening to how its enthusiasts talk.
You’re not going to grow unless you learn things, and you’re not going to genuinely learn things unless you spend some time quietly listening to some things you disagree with. You don’t have to “drink the Kool-Aid”. You just have to listen.
Thanks for reading. As always, I’m more than happy to take questions via direct chat on the platform that you’re reading this, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– All These Roadworks