Sometimes we talk about the Grown-Ass Man as if he were some kind of mythological super-beast; a rarely seen, magical anomaly that only appears when the stars align in just the right way on a full moon during solstice. But I’d like to think that grown-ass men are not, in fact, unicorns. They are more common than we think (I’m blessed to know a few), and the bar is not impossibly high. A grown-ass man is someone who knows himself, who doesn’t let insecurity rule his life, and who treats other people with respect. He’s honest about what he wants, he’s comfortable in his own skin, and he’s generally kind. He does his best to be a good person, which includes not saying offensive or insensitive things to women.
I’m not suggesting that a grown-ass man should be constantly walking on eggshells in order to not offend women (or anyone else). He does, however, have the emotional maturity to be sensitive to other people, and he listens carefully to their points of view, rather than focusing entirely on his own perspective. And if he does put his foot in his mouth from time to time, that’s OK, too. He’s secure enough to admit to a mistake, learn from it, and move on.
Read on for ten sentences you won’t hear a grown-ass man say to a woman:
1. “I’ll call you.” (But doesn’t actually call her.)
When a grown-ass man says he’s going to do something, he follows through. So if you tell a woman you’re going to call, you call. You don’t leave her hanging, wondering what went wrong. If you don’t want to keep seeing someone, just say so. You’re a grown-ass man—you can handle a bit of awkwardness.
2. “You’re just being hormonal.”
Telling a woman that she’s being irrational/hysterical/emotional because she’s on her period is a huge “NO.” Doing so immediately invalidates her feelings and tells her that because she has a female reproductive system, somehow her emotions don’t matter. A grown-ass man knows two things: First, that women can get mad without being on their periods. (In fact, most of the time, we are not on our periods, so blaming everything on them doesn’t make any sense.) And, second, a woman can be menstruating and have completely valid emotions at the same time. One does not cancel out the other.
3. “We don’t need feminism anymore because women and men are totally equal now.”
Grown-ass men are able to realize that while women have made great strides in the last 30 years, there is still a lot of gender inequality at work in both the United States and around the world, in ways running the gamut from the shortage of women in STEM fields to underrepresentation of women in film. You don’t feel threatened by a women being a feminist. In fact, you support her.
4. “In fact, I think white men have it the hardest right now.”
Don’t. Just don’t. A grown-ass man takes the time to learn about what is happening in the world, and he knows not to play the "white-dudes-are-victims" card. (I’m not saying that white guys, as individuals, don’t deal with plenty of legitimate, difficult problems. But a grown-ass man knows that blanket statements that ignore the actual power dynamics of race and gender in this country are insensitive and incorrect.)
5. “I’m sorry you’re upset.”
A grown-ass man is able to give a grown-ass apology. If you’ve done something wrong, you don’t mess around with this “I’m sorry that you were offended” B.S. You say, “I’m sorry. I messed up,” and you mean it.
6. “You’re overreacting.”
A grown-ass man does not dismiss a woman’s emotions by telling her that she’s irrational or overreacting. He listens to what she has to say and tries to help if he can.
7. “I’ll fix it.”
When a woman has a problem, a lot of men feel the need to swoop in and try to fix it for her. And although that impulse comes from a good place, sometimes it’s not what she wants or needs. Instead of heading straight out to solve her problem, just ask, “What can I do to help you?” She’ll let you know.
8. “Smile! Why aren’t you smiling?”
Catcallers tell women that they should smile all the time, and a grown-ass man knows not to go down that route. He knows that women don’t exist to make his world sunnier or happier or anything else; he assumes that if a woman isn’t smiling, she has a good reason.
9. “You know, you’d be really pretty if you did…”
A grown-ass man realizes that women do not exist solely as decoration for the world around him, and he doesn’t assume that their only value lies in physical attractiveness. Furthermore, he doesn’t make his attraction to a woman contingent on changes that he perceives to be necessary; he recognizes that women deserve control over their bodies just as much as he does.
10. “You wouldn’t understand.”
A grown-ass man doesn’t assume that a woman won’t understand something just because she’s not a dude. He communicates freely about what he’s doing and how he’s feeling, and expects the same from her.