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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Features Homepage |
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Don’t Be a Dick

We should be more considerate and nice to each other.

I feel like a bit of a child writing such an earnest and simple statement, but I think it is one of the few opinions I really solidly hold. I fail at this mission daily. I don’t talk to people who I know could do with someone to chat to. I see it’s someone’s birthday on Facebook and I don’t wish them a happy one. I don’t give a dollar to a homeless person, but I will spend more than I need to on lunch, buy a pack of cigarettes or a $9 gin at a bar (to be fair to me I never have cash)((so they should have EFTPOS machines?! F U Harry)). I say mean things about people for no reason. I have treated people badly and have not respected their vulnerability. As I reflect on these things now, I feel like I shouldn’t be giving advice on how to be a nicer or better person to anyone, even if it is just an amorphous readership. But I think some really simple steps could make day-to-day life a lot easier for many people. (Some of these steps are only directed at other men, as I don’t think we take enough collective responsibility for our behaviour.)

If you are in a car with your friends, don’t call out to pedestrians with homophobic or racist slurs. Don’t crudely suggest you like a woman’s body or that you would like to have sex with her. No one gains anything from this. The woman is made to feel uncomfortable. You never hear a couple tell you how they got together after one said the other had “nice tits” from a passing car. “Nice tits” is also just a terrible pickup line in any situation. You are not made powerful by acting like this.

Avoid jokes where the punchline is something bad happening to one of the weakest groups in society or perpetuating a harmful stereotype. This is a thing that being a white teenage boy in New Zealand has made difficult for me, and I am trying to unlearn it. Some people argue that the word ‘gay’ has reached a point in vernacular development where it just means bad or lame. This is not true. Make an effort not to use it like that. Don’t call trans* people ‘trannies’. Respect the pronouns they would like you to use. Little things matter, so try to be better than you were when you were 14.

If someone is offended by your words or actions, don’t leap to the defensive until you have actually thought about it. You could just be being a piece of shit. Unless it is the government telling you can’t say something, it is not actually censorship, so don’t equate all negative reactions to this.

Don’t rape people. Don’t threaten to rape people. Don’t pressure people to do things they don’t want to do. Remember that a victim’s clothing has nothing to do with their sexual assault. If you see something that concerns you and you feel safe enough, try to ask if everything is okay. If you don’t feel safe enough to ask, call the police. Speak out about backward attitudes you encounter, whether they come from your friends or from people in power. Identify publicly as a feminist and an ally. Don’t tell strangers to smile; it’s creepy. Unless you’re a really nuanced and intelligent comic (and probably a woman), don’t even involve rape in your jokes because it is not worth it. It won’t be funny, and you could dredge up terrible memories for someone around you.

Try to forgive people for hurting you. The weight of anger and resentment that you hold can be just as poisonous and damaging. Try not to hurt other people to get the power balance back in your favour. It doesn’t work: trust me.

Appreciate that people’s brains work differently to yours. Something you find easy can be incredibly difficult for someone else. Appreciate that we have been brought up differently and have seen different things. Factor this into your judgment.

Look after yourself! Every now and then, take the day off when you feel like you need to. Call it a mental-health day. Stay in bed and order pizza. Watch shitty TV. Don’t beat yourself up about it; revel in your putrid glory. I fucking love doing this, and, as a student, you are perfectly placed to do it too.

You are more than just a series of skills and body parts. Having a smaller (or bigger) butt isn’t going to make someone fall in love with you or increase your value as a person. Feel proud about the things you are good at, and remember nice things people have said when you’re feeling worthless. Feeling good about yourself is going to help you be nicer to others.

Take selfies.


Harry Evans is a 22-year-old Law, Politics and English student. He is also an admin of the Talking About Drake fan club and a chronically under-followed tweeter @hdeee.

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  1. smackdown says:

    i agree harrry potter sometimes life is one big headache and there isnt enough kids panadol to ease the pain so niceness is all that matters <3 smacky d

  2. Alice says:

    I just want to say thank you. Thank you for telling people not to rape. As a young woman I am always, ALWAYS getting told to be careful. Not to walk alone at night. Always watch my drink in bar. “Stick with the girls and stay safe in the city”. But it is refreshing and relieving to finally see a young male saying what so many others dont. Put the pressure and responsibility back on the rapists. Make it socially unacceptable to joke about rape and to belittle the seriousness of it. I know it is never the victims fault but at times society makes me feel like it is. Your article helps change that view.

    Also thank you for telling people not to tell others to smile. You are spot on, it is creepy. Creepy and uncomfortable.

  3. Micheal Hudson says:

    My occupation forces me to work closely with low brow, chauvinist, rape apologist, middle class privileged men (& women) that always seem to be the target of these trending facebook tirades. Thankfully your article is slightly different, you’re approaching the problem (?) at a a self-improvement angle and I agree wholeheartedly with your advice.

    “Try to forgive people for hurting you.”

    “Appreciate that people’s brains work differently to yours.”

    “If someone is offended by your words or actions, don’t leap to the defensive until you have actually thought about it.”

    However I disagree with the prevalence of these fucking things and wish misfortune on those who write them.

  4. Hugo says:

    Great article, I feel like it approaches self improvement from a really reasonable angle… Is this based on that wear sunscreen valedictorian speech from a few years back by any chance?

  5. (f)Risky says:

    Brilliant stuff… great humour, well-worded, and I too LOVE that you addressed rape ‘jokes’… and told people to have a guilt-free day off. Really cool piece. It’s been shared! Thanks. x

  6. c says:

    this is a gooooood article! harry evans, you are good person. glad i got to hang out with you a few times.

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