How to Avoid Falling Into a Man Trap

A friend explained it this way: if you own a cat and there is a cardboard box in the house, your cat will find a way into it. A man trap is the online version for men. Certain posts will cause them to fall into the comments section.

But there is good news, men! With a little discipline, you can avoid the traps.

Man traps are identifiable by your reactions. If you read something and react in one of the following ways, chances are it’s a trap.

  1. You think, “That’s not me!” You read something that makes a statement about your gender, and you feel the need to point out that the writer is mistaken because men are a rich tapestry. They can’t be described! They share no traits! In fact, the richness of men is the richness of the world.
  2. You see a logical fallacy in the writer’s feelings. The writer describes what it is like to be her in a certain situation, and you want to point out that she is looking at what happened wrongly and is also overreacting. You would like to guide her to be a better, more rational person.
  3. You worry that the writer is going too far. You’re an ally! Ask any of your male friends — you’re a champion of women, which is why you don’t want them to make mistakes. Going too far may mean: using profanity, expressing anger or frustration, or articulating a desire to be among people who are not men. These things offend you and therefore must be hindering what the writer is trying to accomplish.
  4. You are concerned for the writer. You think that her behavior and/or point of view isn’t healthy. You want what’s best for her, and you think it would help if she heard your thoughts. This may involve sharing a life lesson.
  5. You have wisdom to contribute in the form of a quote. The quote may be from one of the following: H.L. Mencken, Noam Chomsky, Milan Kundera, Thomas Pynchon, Cornel West, Michel Foucault, Graham Greene, David Foster Wallace, Camus, Hermann Hesse, Groucho Marx, Heidegger, Haruki Murakami, Robert Heinlein, Nietzsche, Malcolm Gladwell. You want to share their brilliance with the writer, because she may never have experienced the good fortune of having a man quote them to her.

WARNING: This very piece could be a man trap. So think of it as building muscle! If you’re tempted to comment in any of the above ways, practice saying nothing. It will be hard, because you know that everyone — the writer, the world, readers of the comments section, would benefit from what you have to say. But we’re willing to sacrifice so that you may grow stronger.

Note to white people of all genders: If you’d like to try this strength training for avoiding white traps, simply substitute “white person” for “man,” “people of color” for “women,” make a few tweaks to the reading list (wanting to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. to black people is a common temptation), and you should be all set.

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