Opinion » The Rant

Don’t Be Gross

And other tips for men.

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Can you believe (male politician, prominent businessman, or celebrity) (showed his penis to, inappropriately touched, or said repulsive things to) all those (women and/or girls, or men and/or boys)? We have to go with the Mad Libs format here for deadline's sake, as the flood of sexual harassment and assault allegations washes up a new crop of creeps every day.

What a scary time it must be for men. Seeing their heroes fall, exposed as the predators they are — it must be so exhausting. Almost as exhausting as working twice as hard to earn half as much as less-qualified male colleagues who treat women like secretaries.

How does one live with the uncertainty as he awaits whatever bare-minimum consequence his behavior necessitates? It sounds downright frightening. Almost as frightening as walking alone at any time of day, right ladies?

It must be so unfair for men to have to answer for incidents that occurred 20, 40 years ago. Those were different times! Back then, men were men and gals weren't allowed to wear pants. It's almost as unfair as asking a victim "Were you drinking?" and "What were you wearing?" before "Are you okay?" even comes up.

Way to go, men. All these years, you could have been listening to women, treating us as equals instead of objects, and acting like civilized people whose mamas raised you right. Now, the reckoning has arrived and the U.S.S. Patriarchy is on rough seas. You might be one of the "good guys," but if you were surprised when every single woman you know shared a #MeToo story on Facebook, you are guilty by association. We've been trying to tell y'all, the filth is rampant. Now your favorite music, shows, and movies are tainted, and you can't make Stuart Smalley jokes anymore. These are dark times indeed.

How do you cope in this brave new world, where all of a sudden it is NOT OKAY to casually strut around in an open bathrobe and honk-honk your co-workers' breasts? Should you just adopt the "Mike Pence Rule" and avoid altogether the company of those temptresses who, as it turns out, do not inhabit this world merely for your pleasure? No. Instead of punishing women for your inability to act appropriately in mixed company, maybe just don't be gross. We're not going away, so figure it out, okay?

PIXATTITUDE | DREAMSTIME
  • Pixattitude | Dreamstime

If "just don't be gross" is too vague an instruction, here are some simple guidelines to follow.

First: If you think something might not be an appropriate thing to say, it probably isn't. Ask yourself: Would I say this to my grandmother/a male friend/someone to whom I am not sexually attracted? If the answer is no, then you should definitely not say that. For example: "You cut your hair! It looks great!" is an acceptable way to compliment a friend, male or female, on a new haircut. Who doesn't love a compliment? However, "You should call your mama and tell her thanks for giving you that ass" is not a compliment. It's not okay. Creative, yes. Appropriate, no.

Second: Assume by default that nobody wants to see your sexual apparatus. Not on the street, not in your office, not in your car. Even if someone wants to, um, interact with it — she probably doesn't want to see it even then. It's not cute. Sorry. Keep it to yourself. And definitely don't send photos of it. 2a: If someone wants you to disrobe, you'll know. These signals are hard to misinterpret. Pro tip: Err on the side of caution and keep your clothes on at all times.

Third: Don't touch anyone without permission. Some people like to hug when they greet people or say goodbye. I think it's a Southern thing. Not everyone's okay with it, though. So just ask! Say something like "It was so good to see you! Give me a hug!" If the person says no, back off! If she obliges, give a brief polite hug. No hair-sniffing or putting your head on her shoulder or any weird stuff. This really isn't complicated. The same thing goes for handshakes. No hand-kissing, no soft lingering two-handed business. Just shake hands like a person. Do not try to kiss anyone on the mouth. Finally, if you make an honest mistake — again, these situations usually can be avoided if you don't presume everyone in the world wants to sleep with you — apologize immediately. Remember, don't be gross. Hope that helps!

Jen Clarke is an unapologetic Memphian and digital marketing specialist.

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