Guys, If You Can’t Listen To Women Talking About Bad Experiences With Men Without Feeling Attacked, You’re Part Of The Problem

Rant time! If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve had some negative experiences with men. Commiserating with your girlfriends is by far the best way to blow off steam, but sometimes those issues need to be discussed in the company of, you know, males. The problem is that so many guys get up in arms and hyper-defensive when women dare voice concerns we have or reflect on bad things we’ve gone through with them. They swear it never happened, that we’re lying and deceitful you-know-whats, and that we shouldn’t tar all men with the same poo-colored brush. (Insert eye roll here.) Here’s the thing: if men can’t deal with women talking about our experiences with them without feeling “attacked,” they’re clearly part of the very problem we’re talking about.

1. Stop saying “not all men” — it’s enough of men to be a pattern.

Christ almighty, if I hear this one more time! No one is saying all men on Earth, every single one of them, is the problem. However, so many of them are that there’s a very clear problem within the male gender. It doesn’t have to be all men to be many men or even most men. If millions of women around the world are speaking out about this, it’s clearly more than an isolated incident.

2. Just because you don’t do something doesn’t mean other men don’t.

This is another one that grinds my gears. Whenever women have a problem with men, so many guys get defensive and insist that it can’t be true because they themselves would never in a million years do something like that — lying, cheating, ghosting, raping, hitting, whatever. Putting aside the fact that a lot of guys lack the self-awareness or the humility to admit that they have in fact done these things to a woman, the idea that if something didn’t happen to you then it didn’t happen at all is reductive, ridiculous, and delusional.

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4. Toxic masculinity is a real problem.

So much so that it’s bred something even worse: incels. Men have such an entitlement problem that they literally feel that if a woman won’t give them attention/hop into bed with them (definitely that bit), then we’re worth hating and despising to the point that they’d love to wipe all of us off the planet. It’s terrifying for women, especially since so many guys like this are hiding in plain sight. It’s yet another thing we have to worry about when we leave the house in the morning. Even if guys stop short of becoming incels, that same attitude permeates throughout society leading to terrible attitudes about and behavior toward women. Is it any wonder more of us are deciding to stay single?

5. If you take offense on behalf of your entire gender, that’s your problem.

I get that no one likes to be generalized or stereotyped. Obviously not. And if someone is literally trying to hold you individually responsible for something you haven’t done, that’s frustrating and can be hard to deal with. However, if simply hearing women complain about the way they’re being treated by men or expressing their frustration or trauma because of something a guy did to them, this is not a personal attack and we should not have to keep quiet to keep you comfortable. If you’re offended, grow up.

6. Instead of talking over us, why not try listening?

It really is that simple. Trying to shut women down, blame us for your behavior, or label us as “crazy” for calling you out on it (that’s called gaslighting by the way) isn’t going to help anyway. Instead of flapping your gums about how women are the problem rather than men, why not shush for a bit and actually listen to what we’re saying? You might even learn a little bit.

7. Women’s experiences are valid whether you accept them or not.

Here’s the thing: you can deny women’s experiences all you want, but that won’t stop them from existing or being very real. Burying your head in the sand and denying the problem exists isn’t going to make it go away. Women are going to continue to speak out about what we go through and we’re going to keep fighting to change things. The only question is whether you’re going to be there to help.

8. If you don’t want to be part of the problem, become part of the solution.

It’s as simple as that. When you witness a male friend or colleague acting like a complete and utter smacked bottom to/around a woman, say something to him. I guarantee you he’ll be far more likely to listen to you than he would to the woman in his life. If the good men — and yes, there are plenty of you out there — continue to perpetuate toxic male culture, it’ll never change. We want it to, and you should too.

Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.