How to be a Man at Any Age

A few weeks ago I experienced something that made me question my (clearly feminist) ideals.  While leaving the home of a mutual friend one evening, a male acquaintance and I realized that the bus and train we’d be taking to our respective homes weren’t running anymore because, you know, it was late.  The lights on the street blinked changed from a white walking figure to a red flashing palm and the traffic light glowed yellow to red – my companion ran across the street while I stayed behind, unmotivated by enough to elicit a jaywalk. “See you later, Kaitlin!” I cocked my head to the side in confusion, watching a 25-year-old man boy duck his head into a cab, leaving a young woman alone on a Chicago street corner at 1 o’clock in the morning.

As much as I enjoy the strength that accompanies being a woman in the 21st century, I still appreciate a little chivalry.  And fellas, I don’t think I’m alone (see here, here, and even here).

Ways to be a Man (and thus impress the ladies) I don’t care if you’re 15 or 95 – if you don’t do at least three of the following things, I will think of you as a boy.

  1. Make sure your friends (or acquaintances) get home at night.  This does not mean you have to walk her to the door, but offering any companion the first cab is just basic politeness.  Taking the first cab and letting her wait around for another one is the exact opposite.
  2. Open the door for people. And say thank you when they do the same.  It’s the little things you do that make you seem not just kind, but classy.
  3. When you’re walking down the street, walk on the street side of your companion. It may sound silly, but my dad always walked on the outside and told me it was the sign of a gentleman.  Something about getting hit by stray cars first. It’s uncommon and requires extra attention even on the part of your date, which is why it works when they do notice.
  4. On a first date, offer to pay. I’m all about offering to pay my own way – and any woman worth your time will be, too – but it’s still nice to have a man acknowledge that you’re worth the extra effort.  If everything works out you’ll be splitting checks or trading treats anyway. (Plus there’s that whole sex thing that’s much easier to accomplish if you don’t act like an asshole.)
  5. Compliment her shoes. Or something that implies you weren’t staring at her breasts exclusively.  We’ll know it’s bullshit, but appreciate that you’re willing to pretend.

What can a boy do to move up to Man status in your book?

8 thoughts on “How to be a Man at Any Age

  1. Great post. In my book, guys should respect a lady the first time. If a guy genuinely cares about a girl, he won’t push things if she’s uncomfortable. No means no. I can’t stand it when guys get too touchy, huggy, kissy on the first date.

  2. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet…

    “I was walking home in the dark when a guy said he’d get me home safe. How sexist is he, assuming that just because a person is a woman that she needs help to get home safely. I know the streets well enough. I told him.”

    It’s really not worth it. If the person is a feminist as you are then there’s a 50/50 chance she’ll bite your head off for offering to help. Better to avoid raising the issue.

    Also, while I know feminists like defining masculinity in terms of how much less important it is than femininity- you yourself seem to feel that it’s ok to leave a young man alone on a Chicago street corner at 1 o’clock in the morning despite the huge violent crime rate- it’s common male experience that American women are turned on more by narcissism. Bad boys win out. And as mentioned above, why should he risk you bitching him out, you being a feminist?

    • I don’t think that leaving anyone – man or woman – alone on the street at 1 in the morning is a wise idea. It’s not about feminism in this case – that was just an easy way to get into the humor of how guys can step up their game – it’s about being kind and considerate of other people. Even if you were to offer to wait around, I would have told you not to worry about it because it’s the polite thing to do. The guy I was with is the furthest from “bad boy” I can think of – he just isn’t the kind of man who elicits an sort of admiration, either.

      And to say something that I’ll likely regret later, I’m not a feminist because masculinity is bad or less than, I’m a feminist because I think it’s okay to be a woman and it hasn’t always been that way. Similar to the way Black History Month exists, Women’s History Month exists because beyond those designated times history is white and male. There’s extra work to be done in order to be taken seriously and get what we deserve.

  3. “I don’t think that leaving anyone – man or woman – alone on the street at 1 in the morning is a wise idea.”

    ” Make sure your friends (or acquaintances) get home at night. This does not mean you have to walk her to the door, but offering any companion the first cab is just basic politeness. Taking the first cab and letting her wait around for another one is the exact opposite.”

    Your words say differently. If he offered you the first cab he would have to wait around in the dark and dangerous night. He could very well have had the same worries you had. Why should his gender mean he has to offer you the first cab?

    “it’s about being kind and considerate of other people.”

    How did you show how kind and considerate you were to him?

    “The guy I was with is the furthest from “bad boy” I can think of ”

    Well, not the furthest. Surely the furthest from bad boy would offer you the cab?

    “I’m not a feminist because masculinity is bad or less than, I’m a feminist because I think it’s okay to be a woman and it hasn’t always been that way. Similar to the way Black History Month exists, Women’s History Month exists because beyond those designated times history is white and male. There’s extra work to be done in order to be taken seriously and get what we deserve.”

    And you deserve that the man risks himself in the dark night to protect you, stands on the outside and get hit by stray cars, pays for your meals (although on this one at least you offer to split), and compliments your shoes, whether or not they are good shoes?

    If masculinity is not less than femininity, why should the man take stray cars for you?

  4. Pingback: Dealbreakers and Shit Lists | A Little Bit Ginger

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