The simple lesson men need to learn to be a better man

We live in the world where news of the defection of senior TV journo Lisa Wilkinson, from the Nine Network to Channel 10, thrusts the gender pay gap and corporate sexism onto the national chatter agenda.

And the horror exploits of pot-plant fertilising movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has an extraordinary array of known, powerful, full-blown movie stars publicly revealing sexual assaults by men in the studio system. It seems anywhere a man thinks he can wield enough professional power over young women, to believe he can sexually assault her if he wants to, he most likely will.

And having the power to make or break incredibly rare and lucrative Hollywood movie careers is more than enough. The casting couch isn't legend without reason.

A simple rule of thumb

So men simply need to understand that in every environment – professional, social, home – the focus on gender inequality and the ability of communities on social media to band together and call out sexism, sexual assault, and domestic violence, now means just one thing.

Don't be a dick.

The days of "give us a smile love" and "what's the matter sweetheart, can't take a joke?" are long gone. Women are naming and shaming their rapists online. The hashtag #metoo is trending on platforms around the world as women share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. They are fighting back in an active online community. It has promoted a conversation that has brought about a #HowIWIllChange, calling for men to help fight the culture of sexual harassment and join a movement for change.

Any man in power with a history of dodgy conduct with women at work must be sweating bullets. As they should be.

Watch your words

It's also not the environment to say weird things like this. Creepy Woody Allen's slimy history being under scrutiny once more should have silenced him, but no: "You don't want to lead it to a witch hunt, atmosphere, where every guy in the office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself," he huffs.

Really? No, man! No winking! That makes you seem even more likely to have done it. No more Broadway Danny Rose for me.


Clearly, Woody doesn't want any witch hunts, given the decades of accusations by his adoptive children, and ex-wife, of paedophilia.

Not old-school, just sexist

Whine-stein has whinged he is simply from the old school of butt-pinching and boobie-ogling, where men were men and women were sweet meat.

Utter rubbish. Weinstein and his kind can adapt to change in media platforms and audience behaviour like lightning, if making a dollar is involved. This is no more complicated.

Yes, things have changed.

No matter what you did in 1991, now, you can't say, or do, anything that prejudices, stereotypes or discriminates against a woman because she's a woman. That's it.

Keep it in your pants (and appropriate places)

Now, the only place in the world you can shout "show us your tits, love!" is in your own bedroom, and, I'd suggest, even there you'll be lucky to get away with it.  

And stop whining the world's turned prudish or anti-sex. Do what you want in your own home with a consenting partner, go nuts, but don't bring sex into the office. If you mention your dick at work, you're a dick.

If you can'tt get your head around it, here's some simple rules to follow to avoid being a dick.

Just don't...

Don't pay a woman less than a man for the same job. Don't reference a woman's appearance in any way. How she looks is none of your business. Don't touch a woman unless you have her express consent or there's a good reason. Don't ever touch a woman in a sexual manner.  Don't proposition a woman in any sexual way. Don't "flirt" or use sexual language. Don't discuss sex or people's sex lives. Don't ascribe any behaviour to a woman's sex. Don't sexualize a woman in any way. Don't indulge in slut, fat, or any other kind of shaming. Don't ascribe men and women with different abilities – treat everyone the same. Don't join the boy's club. Don't stay silent.

That's about it. Now, you can be sure you're not going to join Harvey and the ever-growing band of corporate sexual predators to be exposed, isolated in shame as the world sees what they are, and looks away in disgust.

#dontbeadick, #howhardcanitbe?

With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is a consultant creative director and communications specialist, currently writing a book on "man stuff" for publisher New Holland. He is a regular commentator on the lives and style of Australian men.

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