Over the weekend, I came across an interesting book entitled The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hall Iggulden.

Recognizing that many of today’s boys no longer know how to do essential “boy things” such as tying knots, building tree forts and go-carts, or making other tools and gadgets, the book undertakes to give step-by-step instructions to restore some of the adventurous spirit which young men seem to have lost.

But the book takes care to go beyond simply adventurous instructions by also giving advice on cultural awareness. One of these areas is how to relate to girls:

  1. It is important to listen. Human beings are often very self-centered and like to talk about themselves. In addition, it’s an easy subject if someone is nervous. It is good advice to listen closely….
  2. Be careful with humor. It is very common for boys to try to impress girls with a string of jokes, each one more desperate than the last. One joke, perhaps, and then a long silence while she talks about herself…
  3. When you are older, flowers really do work – women love them. When you are young, however, there is a ghastly sense of being awkward rather than romantic – and she will guess your mother bought them.
  4. Valentine’s Day cards. Do not put your name on them. The whole point is the excitement a girl feels, wondering who finds her attractive. If it says “From Brian” on it, the magic isn’t really there. … Keep the cards simple. You do not want one with fancy stuff of any kind.
  5. Avoid being vulgar. Excitable bouts of windbreaking will not endear you to a girl, just to pick one example.
  6. Play a sport of some kind. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it replaces the corpse-like pallor of the computer programmer with a ruddy glow.
  7. If you see a girl in need of help – unable to lift something, for example – do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, while surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. If you can’t, try sitting on it and engaging her in conversation.
  8. Finally, make sure you are well-scrubbed, your nails are clean and your hair is washed. Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them, life would be one long football locker room. Treat them with respect.

I laughed my way through my first reading of this list, nodding my head in recognition of just how spot on the advice is.

Despite my amusement, I had to wonder how many people have lost sight of such basic, common sense. How is it that not only boys, but grown men and women as well, seem to have little understanding of these points?

The answer to that question may lie in the modern approach to gender. For years, we’ve been told that men and women are equal, and we’ve taken this to mean that the sexes should have the same interests, the same mannerisms, and be treated in the same way. As a result, men who treat women differently by behaving in the chivalrous manner which the above points suggest are often looked down upon and labeled as “sexist.”

Instead of continuing to embrace this mentality, would we see a greater culture of respect if we taught young men and women to value and embrace the differences between the sexes?

Image Credit: Nick Shontz (cropped) bit.ly/1iowB8m