If you are wondering how to respect women, you are taking a step in the right direction. The fact that you’re worried about this at all is refreshing.
Learning how to respect women is not all that complicated. By following the golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated, you should be okay.
But I am also aware of how our patriarchal society has conditioned all men and even women to disrespect women for our bodies, minds, and more. So there maybe times that you think you are being perfectly respectful but are in fact falling flat.
Women deserve respect
This is nothing new. Women have always deserved respect, but from a young age women learned to nod along and be polite even when being disrespected so to not cause a scene or be seen as “crazy.” While some women call you out, others may bite their tongues when you say something insensitive.
Before learning exactly how to respect women, you have to learn and believe that women deserve your respect. Just as civil rights and gay rights, you cannot just respect those that are different from you because you think you should, but because you know you should. [Read: Inspiring male feminist ideas from men around the world]
Put yourself in her shoes
Many men claim they know how to respect women because they have sister or a mother. But that is no excuse, reasoning, or really anything. Having a female relative should not impact your respectfulness.
Rather think about how you would feel if you were treated how women often are.
How would you feel if men around you blamed your attitude or confidence on your period? Imagine being yelled at on the street just for walking to work. How would you feel if you dressed up because it made you feel good and then were groped or assaulted?
What if you were the only one in the office who was asked to get coffee for everyone else? How would you feel if you made less at work than your coworkers that do the same work? What if you were judged for every decision you made? If you were hated on for working instead of having a family or vice versa?
No one is perfect. And yes, men shouldn’t have to watch everything they say about women or to women. And yes, not ALL men are disrespectful or harassing or have ill intent. But those that are all those things have made it a priority for the good men to do even better.
#1 Speak out against injustice. As a man, you are privileged. If you see a woman being harassed, used, treated less than equally, use your privilege as a man who gets respect to help. Do not simply stay quiet because you don’t want to get involved or it is not your place, because it is your place.
#2 Accept no as an answer. Whether asking a woman on a date, a woman in the office to help with something, or a friend of yours to do you a favor, accept her response.
If you asked a male coworker for help and he said he was too busy, you would simply move on, but if a woman said the same thing, don’t think she is a bitch or unhelpful or on her period. Just accept her response and move on. If you ask a woman out, and she said no she is not interested. Do not complain about being friend zoned.
Her friendship is not a consolation prize. Her rejection does not make you less of a man. Your reaction is what defines you, not your ownership or control over women. Respect what a woman says to you at face value, just as you would a man. [Read: Friendzoned? Don’t turn your crush into a villain]
#3 Would you behave this way in front of your mother? This is a good measure of whether or not you are being respectful. If uncertain, ask yourself this question. Would you feel comfortable saying what you say or do in front of your mother? If the answer is no, stop doing it, because it is disrespectful.
If you can’t treat women how you want to be treated or how you expect to be treated, then treat women how your mom would expect you to.
#4 Do NOT expect a woman to be a certain way. Whether this is a woman you know or just met, do not expect her to be polite or friendly or docile. Yes, some women like a gentlemen who opens doors and offers their coat when it is cold. Other don’t. And that is totally fine too.
Neither of these behaviors make a woman any more or less of a woman. So accept her the way she is. Do not expect her to be shallow because she wears makeup. You do not want to be judged on your appearance or how other men behave, so give her that same consideration.
#5 Do NOT say “you’re not like other girls.” Because if you do, she will immediately think, what is wrong with other girls? You may think this is a compliment, and it may be for a man, but women respect other women for the most part. In order to know how to respect women, you cannot pick and choose, you respect them all.
By showing the woman you are with that you view all women equally and respect them all, she sees authenticity in your respect.
#6 Listen. Yes, this sounds simple, but it is a known fact that men constantly interrupt women in all parts of life. At work, at home, everywhere. So, next time a woman shares her opinion or tells a story, listen. Listen and respond to what she actually said, not what you think she said. [Read: 10 ways to be a better listener in your relationship]
#7 Do NOT mansplain. This may be one of the most well known and patronizing ways to disrespect a woman, and many men sadly do not even realize they do it. If a woman shares something with you do not act like you know more than her.
No matter what the topic is, twisting what she says to seem like you’re helping or fixing something is not only disrespectful, but insulting and frankly quite arrogant. You are not smarter than a woman because you are a man, have a degree, or are older. Take her thoughts at the same level you would if talking to a man.
#8 It is not ALL women.Women are not perfect. That is no secret. But just because one woman lied to you, cheated, or turned you down does not mean all women are the same. Just as men constantly tell women not all men are sexual assaulters, you need to give women that same benefit.
Perhaps not ALL men are dangerous or violent. But realizing that there are enough men out there that are dangerous and violent to cause women fear of walking the streets, putting on their favorite dress, rejecting a date, is something you need to realize.
Have you ever feared for your life because someone left a bar the same time as you? Have you crossed the street because there was a man walking behind you? Have you felt nervous walking to your car after work? Women have to live with this 24/7.
Not all men deserve to be feared, but there are so many men that do that women cannot live without fear. So next time you say “not all men,” remember this. [Read: What it means to check your privilege]
#9Believe her. It is so disrespectful to question a woman. If she tells you how her boss treats her differently don’t tell her she imagines things. Don’t tell her it is all in her head. Tell her that sucks.
If she told you about a sexual assault or how she was harassed at work, don’t tell her she took it the wrong way or she should have worn a longer skirt. It is not your place to say such a thing. And it is rare for women to make up such thing for attention. There are plenty of other ways to do that.
No one wants to be a victim. Especially when the victims are constantly blamed.