How To Respect Women
What does it really mean to respect a woman?
In my quest to answer this question, I realized that there’s no ‘one and finite’ way to respect women or people in general, however with the misogynistic culture we live in and the constant violence carried out against Nigerian women, these are general guidelines that can be followed by anyone who desires to do and be better.
Treat women how you want to be treated
This to me is the most important way to respect women – honestly, to respect any human. Truth is, most men won't survive a day in a woman’s shoes, so just do unto others as you will like others to do unto you. If you don’t enjoy degradation, then don't use degrading words when speaking to or about women. We see a lot of professional women being referred to as darling, baby, honey, and sexy by their male colleagues. Just imagine being called a hunk, hottie, or zaddy by your colleagues, just because they can’t see past your gender or sex. If you don’t like that, then don’t do it to someone else.
If you don’t ever want to be groped at work, church, or while walking down the street, then don’t grope a woman. It’s really that simple!
Women are not teachers! Women are not here to educate men! You have the internet, books, and movies. Educate yourself, ask intelligent questions, and be willing to have difficult conversations.
We are tired of hearing, ‘Oh, I didn’t know, please teach me.' Ignorance is not cute and human beings are not born with knowledge, it's acquired. The truth is, when one is truly curious or passionate about something, they seek out information. Women don't owe you anything and we definitely don’t have the time to teach you about concepts we mostly taught ourselves.
I truly appreciate people out there who are trying to learn. At the end of the day, putting in the little effort to find out certain things will show you actually care.
A lot of men are guilty of mansplaining. Picture a man telling you he understands how you feel as a woman who has to prepare herself mentally and physically before going to certain public places where you will be grabbed, touched, and sexually harassed by strange men, while others laugh it off as men being men, or simply blame it on your irresistible body and shape.
Mansplaining is simply the explanation of something by a man to a woman in a way that is condescending, patronizing and often inaccurate. No man knows what it’s like to be a woman, so please stop explaining away our experiences and feelings on different subjects. You can't walk up to a cancer patient and tell them how it feels to have cancer when you have never had the disease, so why dilute a woman's experiences when you have no clue what it feels like? That's disrespect at the highest level. I remember complaining about being harassed on the street to a former partner of mine, his comment was mind-numbing, he looked me in the eye, laughed and said, 'it can't be that bad, some women actually enjoy it.’ Really? Like he would know.
Break the silence
Dear men, please speak up! Stop complaining to women about your male friends or acquaintances who disrespect or degrade women, instead, call them out! Don’t tell me how worried you are about the women who hang around such guys, tell the guys how horrible, disrespectful, harmful and wrong their actions are. We don’t need ‘low key’ or ‘backyard’ supporters, we need allies who are willing to stand up for what is right. If you don’t say anything, you are being complicit!
Apply the rules of consent
Please ask for permission before you touch anybody and yes, this rule applies to everyone. if consent is not given, you should not touch anyone. Stop means stop and no means no. We live in a society that constantly objectifies, and seeks to govern, and control a woman’s body, so show women that you respect them and consider them human by respecting their right to self-government (autonomy).
Try to actively listen to what women are saying. Avoid dominating the conversation, wait for her to finish talking before contributing. Don't talk over her, remember that her opinion is equal to yours.
Her gender doesn't make her less intelligent, neither does it make her experiences less important. Conversations are not one-sided, it’s not a monologue, so practice active listening.
Written by Carole Azu-Okeke