I am currently looking over a Facebook comment thread that is roughly the eighty-seventh iteration I have seen in the past couple of weeks of the following pattern:
- Women are discussing something amongst themselves.
- Dude jumps in with something like “Well, here’s what I think…” or “Let me point out the several ways you are wrong…”
- Women in the discussion come back with “Thanks, but you’re not really helping” or “That hasn’t been my experience.”
- Dude gets really huffy and starts shouting about freedom of expression, then declares that he’s had enough and was only trying to help.
Okay, guys, look—I understand the urge you feel to speak up in these situations. Most of us have been told all our lives to stand up for ourselves, to speak out when we've got something to say. We live in a culture where the default mode for dudes is action and assertiveness, where anything that suggests otherwise seems like some sort of infringement.
But seriously? You don't have to say anything, and if you really want to do your lady friends a favor, maybe think about shutting up for a while and listening. You've got nothing to lose. Your freedom of speech is not threatened by you not saying anything, and you might actually learn something by just observing the conversation.