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The Straight White Man’s Guide To The 21st Century

A handbook for the modern gent.

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For the modern gent, the 21st century can be an absolute ruddy minefield. A chameleonic landscape of rights, wrongs, and rules where the unknowing and unwilling are met with gleeful admonishment and public shame. A minefield, I say!

But fear not! If the old chestnut “don’t be a dick” doesn’t quite cover all the bases for you, here’s a handy guide to getting along with your fellow humans. And not being a dick.

Come now, chaps, I know you’ve got balls (bloody big ones too, I’d wager!), but possession of a weighty bollock or two does not release you from the tenets of gentlemanly decorum.

Yes, your legs naturally fall that way – but you manage to hold yourself upright in the midst of all this gravity, do you not?! Of course you do! And besides, there are better ways for a man to express himself than by making strangers gawp at his gusset.

Public transport is shared: A little extra empathy and a little less legroom go a long way.

Yes, holding your legs together does require effort! You’ll need to engage your rather impressive thigh muscles. Why, just think of the plaudits! "Look at this young man," they'll cry, "what thigh control!"

None among us is blessed with balls so bulbous they prevent him physically closing his legs. And if his undercarriage is that inflamed he'd do well to see his GP!

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The decorum here is simple: A gentleman never explains.

If someone asks you to explain, ask them if they are sure, then proceed with both caution and brevity. Nobody likes a bore! If you can't sum it up in a sentence or two, politely decline and ask them instead to download a Google.

After all, a gentleman never explains.*

*Except in situations and circumstances where he must.**

**You'll know when you must because someone will be demanding it.

Cursing is cocking brilliant, so don't let any fuckfaced shitjizzle tell you otherwise! Do try to restrain your effs and esses in front of kids, though.

Their otherwise smeg-encrusted vocabularies are replete with ever greater and cuntier swearwords than you can muster, the tiny twat-hatted arsebadgers.

You'll only look foolish.

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Let's be honest, gents, who hasn't had the gumption to take a snap of their John Thomas and telefax it to a lucky lady? What cavalier soul among us hasn't broadcast their meat and potatoes across the wires in a moment of lust and madness!?

I am guiltier than most! There isn't a pair of eyes this side of Swindon that hasn't shut tight in giggle-fits at the sight of my modest reputation in their inbox. Regards to your matriarch, and so forth.

Well, apparently these young debutantes get in a frightful state if you summon them a picture of the old lad! You could knock me down with a feather, but that's the way it is!

And so, for the public good, gents, bar yourself from further broadcasts. Pocket that phone, place Percy in his pants, and put a moratorium on your member.

There are exceptions, of course. If a lady suitor requests to see your résumé, however long and distinguished, you may send out Mr Johnson with your references. But here's the crucial part: You must wait to be asked!

And alas, she might not ask. The struggle is of familiar circumstance.

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A gentleman should be seen and not heard. This is not a criticism; rather, sound advice!

Should you find yourself at a forum where queries are invited from the crowd, never ask a question. If you have a query, wait! Someone else may ask it. Staying silent in public offers many advantages. You'll avoid embarrassment, and your silence invites questions!

If you simply must ask a question, exhaust all possibilities until raising your hand is the only available recourse. Ask yourself: Does my question begin, "This is not a question, more of a statement"? Am I putting up my hand to show I am the superior intellect?

Do I wish to let everyone know I alone am the corporeal MVP?

Or am I putting my hand up because I have a genuine query, one that isn't trying to shame or embarrass but is a product of my childlike curiosity? If it's anything other than that latter, then put your hand down. No one is here for you, friend!

As an aside, if you are so lucky as to be chairing a public forum and you open the floor to the audience, find someone who looks nothing like you and let them speak.

A novel idea indeed!

There is much to recommend in finding a reasonably priced tailor for all your sartorial needs, but ultimately (and perhaps unfortunately!) no matter how much good advice you're offered on fashioning yourself in the current trends, it is no one's opinion but your own that counts. Be it socks with sandals, cargo shorts in winter, or otherwise.

When it comes to matters of personal style, you, sir, do you, sir!

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As difficult as it may be to hear critique, or indeed cries of "ban men" and their ilk, a gentleman should be downright embarrassed to find himself having uttered the following contemptible phrase: "Not all men."

Face it, chaps: We, as a demographic, have been really quite terrible to other genders, races, and sexual orientations over the millennia, and they have a right to be jolly miffed!

This may sound foolish after having always been encouraged to speak your mind, but the best course of action is silence. An outburst is akin to a guilty man telling all and sundry "I'm innocent" when the blighter was caught red-handed. Such protest is unbecoming!

Here's an idea: Listen instead! Lend an ear, lend a retweet. Steel yourself, and quietly accept they don't mean you. Not always, at least. Because the truth is – and you might want to brace yourself here – sometimes they do mean you!

And that's OK. None of us is perfect! Critique is an opportunity to learn and to grow and to better ourselves. And who among us could not be better? Liars, that's who!

And if you're still offended, wait until we're in the minority and have been for many thousands of years. Then saddle up your space horse, make haste to my moon lodgings, and I'll ask our women overlords to stop saying mean things about us lowly menfolk.

Remember, giving others a voice does not take yours away! Equality means sometimes having less so that others may have more. We're all the richer for it, I promise!

Being a man of culture, you are the expert in something, I'm certain! But alas, no man is the expert in everything! Knowing when your opinion is needed and when to keep quiet is the height of decorum.

The trick is this: You hold a limited amount of cards, and you must play them judiciously. It's no good throwing them all on the table at once. Gamblers and fools may be one and the same, but the man who holds on to his cards is neither.

From one gent to another, your hand should never contain an opinion that seeks to silence, or to blame another for your misfortune. Those cards should not be held, aired, or seconded. If you, sir, are of the opinion that women, LGBT people, people of colour, or other minorities are the problem, it is likely you who are in fact the problem!

And while we're here: Being adversarial is not an opinion, it's the opposite of one! Taking a position for opposite's sake is the fastest way to out yourself as tiresome and a bore.
Devil's Advocate
is a motion picture starring Keanu Reeves. Best to leave it that way.

So don't tweet that reply. Don't leave that comment. Don't start a sentence with "but" or "well, actually". Don't say the obvious joke. Don't try to score points! (I don't know much about sportsball, but scoring one goal against a team that have scored many doesn't make you the winner!)

Not voicing an opinion is the right answer more often than not, especially in matters that don't concern you, e.g. women's bodies, LGBT bodies, black and brown bodies.

When in doubt, seek an opinion out! Look to people in other communities for their ideas, and don't debate. Life is not an after-school club, chaps.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged (among men, at least) that a single woman in possession of her faculties must be in want of a compliment. So you can imagine the sight of my flapping jaw when I learned this is a brazen fallacy! I nearly spat out my Pimm's!

Let me attempt to relay why: It turns out that men, with our majestic thighs, broad shoulders, and mighty stature, are somewhat threatening to women. No, really!

Imagine, if you will, being a young woman, walking alone somewhere, and an entire group of chaps decide to start shouting at you, following you, getting in your face. Naturally, you'd feel threatened. You'd be rolling up your sleeves for a spot of fisticuffs!

Alas, being generally less physically intimidating than a group of large men, most women find these "compliments" and behaviours incredibly threatening. And we're not just talking about groups here. This includes men on their own, men in pairs – all men!

And if you're thinking "But surely, not I? I am the bastion of moral etiquette!" then you'd do well to remember this: Yes, you. We share a collective responsibility.

Women are not fodder for your whims and urges. They are human beings with a right to go about their lives without threat or harm. This is not a lot to ask, is it? Do we not expect the same for ourselves?!

Your intentions are of little consequence. Living in this society has taught women that every man is a potential risk, a potential attacker. It doesn't take much effort to listen to these concerns and attempt to avoid threatening behaviour.

And while you're at it, next time you see one of your squadron buzzing around a woman in the street, do everyone a favour and clip the old boy's wings, will you?

Friends don't let friends fuckboy.

There is a tome here waiting to be written, but for the purposes of brevity I'll be concise:

1. No negging. Never, ever neg. If your idea of talking to another human being is to shame them into sharing your chambers by attacking their self-worth, then you, sir, have no place at any table fit for company. Lift people up, don't tear them down.

2. Whether you're Tindering, emailing, texting, or sliding into DMs, don't open with your love of crotch-snorkeling or offer your face as a stool upon which she may rest her person. Speak to her like a human being. Ask questions. Be interested. Be interesting!

Above all, remember Botham's First Rule: You never start a meal with a side of beef.

3. You have no right to be dated. A woman owes you neither her time, nor her company. And no, Hollywood hasn't ruined you by raising you to believe moral superiority will win you the dame: Any simpleton can tell the difference between real life and fiction.

4. Words to strike from your vocabulary include but are not limited to: "females", "that" (as in "I'd hit that"), "slut", "bitch", "whore", or anything that implies a deep-seated hatred of women. It tends not to be a turn-on. Words have power – use them wisely!

5. Life is not fair. "Fair" is a weather condition! Don't be nice because you want something. There are no medals for basic human decency, gents.

In fact, forget nice: Be fabulous. Life is too short for anything else.

Nothing should find the modern gent so tumescent as receiving active consent.

A resounding "yes" or even, heaven allowing, a "please" from an interested party should swell the gland in question like a righteous zeppelin, traversing the clear skies of foreplay before engaging in complex, consensual docking manoeuvres!

The modern zeppelin pilot should act with grace and charm, and in no way comment on the maintenance of any field in which they are permissed to anchor themselves. Criticising the length or lack of grass is unsporting conduct, indeed!

And remember, consent to one activity is not consent to all subsequent activities! Seek permission each time. Good communication is a great pilot's best asset, thighs notwithstanding. A thank you goes a long way – manners make the man, after all.

And yes, stopping to ask permission and engage safety protocols slows things down a little, it's true. But slow and steady wins the race. Best not to rush these things, what!

The most handsome words a man can utter: "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." Engrave them on hearts and tombstones, gents. We are the generation who own up to our errors and embrace our apologies, and we do our darndest not to repeat our mistakes!

And let me cut you in on a truly top tip here: Women love a man who can recognise his mistakes and freely apologise of his own volition. Indeed, nothing invites a good swoon like a display of honesty and vulnerability. An apology is a great place to start!

See also: "Please", "thank you", "may I?", and giving credit where credit is due.

Now chaps, I know you love the hip-hop. Indeed, it is a catchy culture full of poetry and boisterous bass. It can also feature quite the arsenal of n-bombs! Allow me to be frank and forthright: It is not now, nor has it ever been appropriate for the straight white gent to drop an n-bomb, even if he's singing along with the expletive-laden lyrics of a popular recording artist!

And lo, it's no good saying, "Well, they're saying it, so I can too!" Should you happen to lose your licence for reckless driving, you can't well get back behind the wheel of your motor vehicle because your neighbours continue to drive! You're barred, sir. Licence revoked. (Especially when your family were using that motor vehicle for the centuries-long oppression and subjugation of an entire people.)

You might not have been driving during that era, it's a fair point! But in the interests of co-existence and respect, 'tis best to leave that particular vehicle in the garage.

See also: Using any term originating in African-American Vernacular English without understanding meaning or context. Appropriation is crime enough without the added insult of improper use!

Life is spurious, not serious. To learn to laugh at oneself can be a torrid trial, but a rather rewarding one! I know this struggle all too well: I once was the most serious of souls, prone to rage and quick to injure. Every comment an affront, every critique an attack.

Life was but a screaming hellscape of misery and torture! I spent nights sleepless, sowing the seeds of my sorrow. Alas, that is no way to live! Once I learned to laugh at myself, the world embraced me and my flaws. And my forehead!

It turns out, and you may want to take notes here, that perfect pecs and bulging biceps are not what is expected of you. (For the record, Magic Mike is a movie, not a manual, and feeling personally maligned does not a wider cultural oppression make!)

To be human is to be flawed. Everything else is marketing. You'd do well to disassociate with those who seek your misery. Lighten up, friend. Laugh! Live! Frolic in the fields of curiosity and wonder! We are here but for a limited time, what is life if not to be enjoyed!

If you take nothing else away from these words, gents, take this: Compassion is more useful than anger, empathy is more rewarding than outrage, and a nice pair of brogues is one of the better investments in life.

And finally, as two very wise men once said: Be excellent to each other.

Bloody excellent, I say. Hear, hear.

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