Lee’s D.I.Y. Recording, Mixing & Mastering Tips

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I just released my new single “Don’t Belong” online and as a video and got a really nice email from a fellow recording engineer asking how I got my sounds to come out so well. This meant a lot to me because for the last decade I’ve been trying to reach a level that impressed my fellow audiophiles and I finally feel like I’m starting to. Since I spent some time and brain power replying to him, I wanted to share these thoughts with anyone else out there doing their own recordings on a budget(ish) because I know how a few helpful tips can save a lot of time when you’re stumped. So below is the song/video and then my response, explaining how I get my sound…  I hope it helps.

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Hi and thanks for the compliment. I have been trying to get to a level the impresses other producers for over a decade so your message made my day. I think what I have found is that you have to acquire a few key mics, pre-amps and plugins and then follow the less is more rule. And yes, I do all the recording, mixing and mastering myself. In just a regular, non-recording room. I don’t have any acoustic panels, sometimes i just sit in front of a curtain. I don’t really think it’s essential to be in a completely quiet room. So long as the room verb isn’t too crazy. I even leave the window open sometimes because it’s hot and I don’t mind that a bird sings in the background of some of my recordings. But I like the indie diy vibe, so that adds to it.
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-59-10-pm(This was recording a different song but using my fav vocal mic, the one I used on “Don’t Belong” Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic)

So it starts at the source. The instruments that you’re recording. If you love a guitar tone, find out what guitar it is and buy it or a cheaper one that sounds as close as possible to it. Same with drums. Make your drummers play your favorite drums. Borrow or rent a good sounding kit. Then pay attention to the instruments on your fav recordings. Is the player playing hard or softly? Can you hear the techniques? Have your players play like that. On your favorite songs, there might be a lot of instruments played sparsely, or only 3 instruments played more constantly. Pay attention to what arrangements move you. Same with vocals. I used to try to sound overly smooth and now I think my old stuff sounds forced because i was trying to sound smooth. So I just relax and sing as close to how I speak as possible. That kind of attention to detail has made the most difference in the feel and emotion of my recordings. For example, I only ended up using 4 mics on this drum kit, 3 of which were more than a foot away to avoid the more modern close miking sound. I wanted the vintage, distant sound.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-05-02-pm(My amazing drummer/percussionist Angela “AC” Cutrone on her custom Vessel Kit. Mojave MA300 and AKG Perception 100 as overheads. The kick has an Shure SM58 and then the room mic is my Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic. I didn’t end up using the snare mic which was an AC’s Audix of some type).

Next… what mic suits the thing you’re recording? I always used to record everything with a condenser but I realized once my ears got better that everything was just too bright and taking the highs down in the eq just killed the air. So I tried dynamic studio mics and a cheapish ribbon mic (Golden Age Project R1 Mk3) and found that the ribbon is great on my vocal. It has less clarity but more character and body and sounds more like the recordings I like. For guitars it’s weird because I have $1200 condenser (Mojave M300) and a $100 condenser (Akg Perception 100) and I love the more expensive one for bg vocals and overheads and voice overs and recording hip hop vocals but for some reason I just like how my Taylor sounds through the cheaper mic. It’s that sort of paying attention to the feel and sound instead of what my mind wants to think (i.e. expensive equals better). And PLACEMENT! Record and take notes of each mic at various angles and distances and then LISTEN. Which angle and distance one FEELS the best to you? Notice I keep saying “feels” instead of “sounds” on here?  The feel is more important than the audio precision. Never forget that music is about emotion and only nerds like us care about the clarity or audio perfection. ****Update: since I posted this blog I bought a Peluso P-28 Pencil condenser for my guitar because it’s allegedly modeled after the vintage and super pricey Neumann KM56 which has been alleged as the mic on most of Nick Drake’s guitar (which is my fav tone ever).****

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Preamps… I don’t use the Focusrite Voicemaster anymore unless it’s for a second mic on a stereo guitar or drum room or something. My goto preamp is the D.W. Fearn VT-1. And i have that on all my vocals and guitars. There’s a bunch of tubes in that preamp so it warms up and opens up the sound a lot. It costs $2700 so it was definitely an investment but it added a subtle, more expensive sound to my tracks. I would say that it’s not key because the average listener doesn’t have the ear to notice the difference, but I believe now that it’s not about the ear. All of these improvements may not be noticeable to the average ear, but I firmly believe that they all add up to reach them on an emotional level. The hardware upgrades, the attention to tones and performance style etc. They all matter. Even if the average listener can’t tell why.

FYI I think the computer, Digital Audio Workstation (DAW aka audio software e.g. ProTools or Logic etc) and digital audio interface you use are pretty interchangeable so long as they are not super dated. I use the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 as my  interface to get all my analogue signals into the USB of my Macbook Pro which is running Logic Pro X. Obviously there are PCs and other interfaces and the super famous ProTools. I imagine they all work fine.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-43-20-pmFinally, the plugins. The way I produce, in the box, DIY, no studio, little money etc… I think you have to have some key plugins, especially on the master channel, that really do their job and then be minimal with the individual channels. Mastering was the bane of my existence. I could not get the volume and high end presence to match hit songs without making mine sound squashed and harsh. For 10 years I hated mastering. And this might sound like an ad but I swear IK Multimedia’s Lurssen Mastering Console Plugin changed the game for me. It’s one of those key plugins that without it, the other plugins, and guitar tones, and mics and preamps don’t get to shine. It just makes everything loud and clear and keeps those important dynamics.

I also add to the master channel (in this order) Waves Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670 and Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher (which is crazy cheap at around $50 and frequently less on sale), all in very subtle enhancemnent amounts and all above/before the Lurssen plugin. I think each one of them is a great product and adds to the quality of the sound but the Lurssen is the only one that isn’t replaceable as far as I’m concerned. That’s where I get the massive volume.

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So that’s the key part of the software. This might be sacrilege but I think it’s mostly about how you master, how you add that volume and sparkle in the end can make or break or absolutely destroy a great mix. But of course the individual channels are important too. If you record the source well, you won’t have to do much at all on the individual channels. I just use the stock Channel EQ in logic X if it needs to cleaned up. I also pretty harshly cut the low end of all my channels. Where I cut depends on the instrument. Approximately: Kicks at 30hz, Bass at 40hz, Vocals at 50hz, Guitars and pianos at 60. So there’s no rumble at all. Also, a lot of sources have that mud in the 140-220 range that I dip 1-3ish db in many of my channels too. That allows for more volume and clarity in the end too. To really hear where the mud is, I like to listen to my mix on my little portable Bose speaker because it is so unforgiving in the muddy sections of the mix. It tells me exactly where the problem areas are. Listening on my expensive monitors is great when I need to hear everything clearly to see if there’s anything obvious but once that’s good, mixing on unforgiving bass enhanced consumer speakers make me confident that it will be good across the board.

Now in saying that about keeping the channels sparse, I must admit I have come to love the Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher on all of my individual channels as well. It seems to be good at giving them their own space in the mix. I use the presets for the instruments that come with the plugin and then tweak them as needed. So unless you get great separated sound from your mics and preamps I recommend something like that (Greg Wells has a line of Waves plugins too that are supposed to be good for enhancing mixes and individual instruments) is helpful too if you can’t get your instruments to stand out from each other. I’m sure Native Instruments have some channel enhancers too. Anything with the equivalent of some sort of exciter, compressor, eq etc. A lot of them you can try before you buy.

Also for individual channels I have some of the Waves Abbey Road Series plugins that I love. Their Reverb Plates is such a good and familiar reverb that I use as a bus reverb pretty much on all channels, very subtly. It has that sound that everyone has heard before so I think it subconsciously makes a new song familiar. I have their J37 Tape Emulator that I put on my vocals to warm them up and boost saturation and even add a subtle tape slap delay. And then I like to send my vocal to their Reel ADT in a bus and it can give a subtle stereo boost that makes the vocal bigger, punchier and more modern.

And lastly, I’ve been trying to use no compression on individual channels at all. But if there is a vocal or guitar or anything that has one section that is way louder than the rest, it might be necessary to keep it reigned in. On “Don’t Belong” I only used it on the strings and I chose the Waves CLA-2A for it’s smoothness and warmth (the strings were naturally quite thin) but I also like the stock Logic compressor with it’s many options.

So that’s where I’m at now. That’s how I’m getting my sound now and I’m sure it will change as it always does. Thanks for reaching out and I hope that helps. Happy music making!

Cheers,
Lee

***UPDATE: Since I posted this song and blog a few weeks ago I purchased Waves Audio’s “Center” Plugin and love what it does to the punchiness and focus of the master channel. I put that right before my Lurssen plugin with the “punch” nob all the way to center. And “low” slightly to the center and “high” slightly to the sides. I also have the sides volume pulled down a couple DB. To me it adds a mastering focus that I have been after for years. I keep the rest of the channels and master channel settings pretty much the same as this original blog states except I removed the PuigChild from the master channel as the Center adds a similar but more focused punch. You can hear an example of it on this live version of the same song here. *****

(MORE SCREENSHOTS FROM THE “DON’T BELONG” SESSION):

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Equipment list for “Don’t Belong”

Acoustic Guitar: Taylor 110e
Electric guitar: Kay Speed Demon K571 (1961)
Drums: Vessel Drums Custom
Piano: Native Instruments Maverick
Bass: Logic Stock Instruments (Strings: Basses Pizzicato)
Microphones: Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic (vocals, violins, drum room), AKG Perception 100 (acoustic guitar, drum overhead), Shure SM58 (kick), Mojave MA-300 (overhead mic).
Hardware: D.W. Fearn VT-1 Preamp (vocals, guitar, strings), Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (audio/digital interface for everything).
DAW: Logic Pro X
Audio Channel plugins: Waves RDesser, Logic Channel EQ, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Waves J37 Tape, Logic Guitar Amp, Logic Pedalboard, Waves CLA-2A (on strings).
Mastering plugins: Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates, Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Lurssen Mastering Console.

New single and video! “Don’t Belong”

Hi friends, I have new music for you and here is the video inspired and shot mostly by my talented, beautiful, wanderlusting wife, Sharisse Coulter. The parts she didn’t shoot are the ones where she finally stepped out from behind the camera and let me and other various travel buddies get her on screen. It’s a love song for those who love to travel. Please enjoy and share and if you want the single it’s on iTunes and other digital outlets now. Cheers!

Official video for my single “Don’t Belong.” Inspired and shot by my talented, beautiful, jet-setting wife, Sharisse Coulter… except for the shots of her which were by me and a hand full of friends over different trips. Check out her photography and writing at http://sharissecoulter.com

I wrote the song and then recorded it with the help of my magical band Josh Bonas (electric guitar), Angela AC Cutrone (Drums) and Evan Bethany (strings).

Equipment list:
Acoustic Guitar: Taylor 110e
Electric guitar: Kay Speed Demon K571 (1961)
Drums: Vessel Drums Custom
Piano: Native Instruments Maverick
Bass: Logic Stock Instruments (Strings: Basses Pizzicato)
Microphones: Golden Age Project R1 Mk3 Ribbon Mic (vocals, violins, drum room), AKG Perception 100 (acoustic guitar, drum overhead), Shure SM58 (kick), Mojave MA-300 (overhead mic).
Hardware: D.W. Fearn VT-1 Preamp (vocals, guitar, strings), Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (audio/digital interface for everything).
DAW: Logic Pro X
Audio Channel plugins: Waves RDesser, Logic Channel EQ, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Waves J37 Tape, Logic Guitar Amp, Logic Pedalboard, Waves CLA-2A (on strings).
Mastering plugins: Waves Abbey Road Plates, Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter, Waves PuigChild 670, Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher, Lurssen Mastering Console.

CAMERAS: Canon 5D MIII, Canon 7D, Sony RX100 iv (for slo-mo).
Video software: Final Cut Pro X
Video Plugins: Pixel Film Studios PROLUMA, Pixel Film Studios PROLENS, CrumplePop ColorKit, FilmConvert Pro, Pixel Film Studios COLORIST.

DON’T BELONG
(words and music by Lee Coulter)

She likes to wander near and far
She likes to go where the wild things are
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
She found the only thing she could trust
A passport and a wanderlust
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so but
She don’t belong to me

Because she’s free when she’s flying
Beyond the sea past the horizon
From her toes to her nose to her golden curls
She belongs to the whole wide world
My girl don’t belong to me

She likes to ponder everything
Take it in while traveling oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Belizean days and Parisian nights
Venetian waterways and Northern Lights Oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so but
She don’t belong to me

Because she’s home out on the road
All alone in travel mode
Now I don’t take it personally
She belongs to nobody
My girl don’t belong to me

From town to town and coast to coast
She tells me I’m the one that she loves most Oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
On a plane or a train or a boat or a bus
Everyday I know she’s choosing us oh
Oh my girl she don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so ‘cause
She don’t belong to me
Everywhere she goes I know she loves me so ‘cause
She don’t belong to me

Encinitas Showcase with The Lovebirds

The Studio Encinitas is my new favorite local place for music and I get to host a showcase there this Friday with the incredible duo, The Lovebirds. Click the poster below for the FB event page.

All ages show. $15 at the door.

The Studio Encinitas
1057 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA

Lee Coulter Lovebirds

My favorite write up yet…

My San Diego music scene acquaintance, Lindsay White, wrote the following piece about me for a blog that she writes for and it brought a tear to my eye. Not only because she wrote the best version of what I strive to be and that makes me feel seen and heard and understood (which is amazing), but because I respect the shit out of her. She is an amazing singer songwriter as a solo act and as well as one half of The Lovebirds (with Veronica May). So this meant a lot to me.
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Featured Artist | Lee Coulter

Submitted by Lindsay White

I’ve been thinking a lot about Lee Coulter. I realize that’s a super creepy introductory sentence, but I’m just going to stick with it.

I go way back with Lee, as our respective journeys in the San Diego music scene have
progressed in parallel-ish lanes (thanks to Listen Local Radio’s Cathryn Beeks, who in some way or another is responsible for introducing me to every San Diego musician I know). My
relationship with Lee primarily exists at shows when we’re sharing a bill, or on Facebook when we take turns “liking” each other’s posts. A couple weeks ago, however, we actually had the chance to spend time together at a friend’s party. (In person, for fun. Remember when we used to do that a lot with other humans?) We swapped songs and stories, and to make a sob story short, I realized that we have a ton in common as far as familial setbacks go. Listening to Lee’s experiences as well as the songs he’s written to cope with those experiences in a positive way made for a beautiful evening.

As a songwriter, you can approach the whole “when life hands you lemons” situation in a
number of ways. I tend to wring them out until I have a sour little song about my broken little heart. Lee, on the other hand, adds some sugar then invites you to drink some refreshing AF lemonade with him. “Look at all this disgusting pulp I have to swallow!” I whine to my audience. “What a yummy, delicious zest!” he proclaims to his.

You might think that my typically dark and brooding songwriting storm clouds would not be
compatible with Lee’s bright and cheerful songwriting sunrays. Quite the contrary. I respect and love the light shining through Lee and his music. His musical output is pure, sparkly, genuine energy that can’t help but attract everything in its path. One of my favorite lyrics of his states “There’s a skip in the beat of the heart of the world cause you’re a part of it.” In addition to the wonderful cadence of this line, the uplifting message is a powerful yet gentle nudge into the realm of gratitude and purposeful living.

I need that nudge. Lee’s songs make me appreciate all the tiny things we often take for granted. His outlook makes me aspire to approach not only songwriting but also life from a more positive angle. His soulful sincerity has a way of making me believe in myself and humanity in general. I’m not saying the world needs fewer songwriters like me, but I am saying the world needs more songwriters (and people) like Lee.

On a final business-y note, I’ve also had the pleasure of observing Lee from a booking
standpoint. I work for a corporate event planning company, and often my colleagues will ask
me for entertainment recommendations for their clients. Referring musician friends for
corporate events can be tricky because private/corporate gigs require so much more than
talent alone. Lee is incredibly professional and experienced when it comes to performing or
these groups, and the attendees really dig his music! As an added bonus, he even has
professional speaking experience on the topic of music as it relates human mentality, etc

If life’s been handing you lemons, I urge you to look up Lee’s upcoming shows. He’ll fix you right up. If you’re looking to book an artist or speaker for your next event, I also urge you to reach out to him! I’m positive you will love Lee Coulter as much as I do!

Free for freedom!

Thinking about equality, division and “freedom”… So I’m offering two FREE wedding performances in any U.S. city that Southwest Airlines​ has a service to: One for a gay couple AND one for a deeply religious couple planning a religious ceremony. Please email or comment if you know of anyone who might like my music as part of their special day this year. #celebrate #love #equality #ItIsSimple #BoycottPrejudice

Vagina Pizza

VAGINA PIZA (this is where you say “okay I’ll bite”)

Guys, imagine you’re boarding a plane as you realize that you’re starving. And you’re in this flying metal cage for the next 4 hours with nothing to eat but a packet of peanuts.

Just then you look down at the seat next to you to see a guy opening a box of the most mouth-watering airport chain pizza you’ve ever laid your eyes on. It smells sooooo good.

Naturally, you reach down, take a slice and satisfy your hunger. Wait. No you don’t. Because that’s insane. Right? Can you imagine? What if you were the guy with the pizza and I just took it from you? What would you do?

Then why is this happening all over the country? 1 in 5 young women in U.S. colleges will experience having their pizza taken without consent. Only the pizza is their vagina.
Before some of you get irrationally defensive upon hearing a fact and think I’m just another male man-hater, hear me out. It’s completely okay to want pizza. I LOVE PIZZA! I want to have as much pizza as possible in my life. And I have no qualms with that. I’m biologically wired to desire pizza. I know this, because I can have just had pizza and be totally satisfied and then see pizza and want to have more pizza. So when I see a pizza that I can’t have, say at a food court or on TV, and I think “that looks mighty delicious,” do I feel guilty? Hell no! Do I hate on guys who would absolutely try any semi-appealing pizza if circumstances permitted? I’m not a hypocrite. But who just takes the pizza? Who drugs the pizza? Who bullies the pizza? Who pretends to be friends with the pizza? Who creeps out the pizza? Too many of us do. So stop. Now. If there’s a pizza you want but it doesn’t want you, just appreciate the fact that pizza exists and move about your business.

If we applied that 1 in 5 rate of women who are sexually assaulted or raped at U.S. colleges to our airplane scenario that would be around 28 people on our typical domestic flight who had their pizza violated. 28 manhandled pizzas. That’s fucking chaos. We wouldn’t accept such a society. Do we really care more about pizza etiquette than our female peers—the future leaders and lawmakers and innovators and creators and teachers and mothers and girlfriends and wives of our society?

No more being impatient, greedy or entitled. There’s enough pizza for everyone to get a piece of the pie. That’s the cool thing, you can be pizza too. Most women love man pizza! You actually want to be her pizza. It’s way more fun to be each other’s pizza than for her to offer you some without being hungry.

So keep being your sexy self (which only means being okay with yourself—sounds simple, but really, work on it). And until you meet that next person who wants to share some pizza, you just have to not be a douche, find a seat, and if you need to feel some temporary satisfaction, just grab those nuts.

Music is a Photograph!

I’ve recently decided to expand my creative outlets to include photography (see my public album here) . Since idolizing album covers and movie posters in my childhood, I have always been mesmerized by the focus that a good promo shot brings to its subject. How an iconic portrait can make you dream of a better life or at least inspire you to hope that someday you might have the same twinkle of sureness in your eye as the person in the picture. The thing is, nobody is that awesome all the time. Not even your favorite celebrity. Not even the prettiest beings. That’s why photography and its ability to capture a moment in time is pure magic. We can hold a memory in our hands, people! We can look at history on a shelf! It’s madness!

Whether it was taken 100 years ago or today, my favorite photos make you feel like you not only know the person in the portrait, but you know them in their finest, truest, strongest form. Think of those under-the-radar friends that you know or even your partner and how you adore and admire them while other people don’t seem to see them the way that you do. Whatever you are seeing in that person, is what I want to capture in anyone I ever take a photo of. For all to see. For all time. I firmly believe that at any given moment anyone can be amazing. (I even have a song and music video about that idea.)

The concept of time and how it seems to speed up has always fascinated me: photography is my way of slowing it down with all of you with whom I share it. Just as I attempt to do with music. Madluv and I hope you like what you see in the pics.

Below is a short clip with the results of my second photoshoot. It was made easy by the charming and talented subject, singer/songwriter Julia Davies. The lens loves her as much as your ears will love her sound. Please check it out.

 

Live online show 11/2!

Hi friends!
I never get play live for the majority of you because I don’t tour enough, but tomorrow (Sunday 11/2/2014, 12:00pm PST), I’m doing my first live online show via StageIt so you can watch from anywhere in the world!

And it’s not just watching a screen because you can type requests and comments and questions during the show that I’ll be reading/answering in real time. I’m doing the show with my supremely talented friend and fellow songwriter, Dawn Mitschele , and I know you’ll love the harmonies and collaborations we do together. 

It’s all happening at https://www.stageit.com/dawn_mitschele/dawn_mitschele_lee_coulter/41040

Hope to play for you then!
Madluv,
Lee

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Click image for teaser video!

What to do when your buddy posts his modeling head shot as his profile pic

As an entertainer, at some point in your career you are supposed to take a head shot – A photo that shows your character and essence clearly so producers and audiences can get a feel for who you are without having met you. Exhibit A:

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If you’re somewhat attractive looking (this is how my wife describes me and she’s a realist) you’re supposed to get at least one shot where you exude your somewhat attractiveness. I’ve done it. Years ago. As did my good friend and frequent collaborator Stepchylde Tha Phoenix (seen above). I’m not proud of mine. However, Step posted his as his Facebook Profile pic a few days ago. This was where he went wrong. Now, he is a more than somewhat attractive guy so the ladies went to town with their comments about how “yummy” he is. But he has male friends too. And this is how we reacted….

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Let this be a lesson to all of you more than somewhat decent looking men… with great looks comes great responsibility.

“Misogyny and Other Cock Blockers”

Boss Senorita

Last Wednesday I released a video for “Boss Señorita”—a song I wrote to empower women and offer men a different approach. Two days later, a misogynist killed 6 people because women rejected him. I’ve seen much discussion about misogyny since then and I’m seeing men get very defensive. As a man, I understand why. My hope is that admitting why—to ourselves and to women—may help us create a space where women aren’t terrified of us. One can dream.

Naturally, we feel offended when we hear generalizations about our gender. We want to say, “IT’S NOT ALL MEN.” But the rage I’m hearing and reading from many of us only points out that some of the generalizations hit too close to home.

None of us are truly innocent bystanders. Not all men are violent or disrespectful, but we are more similar to the creeps and violators than we like to admit. We have the same compulsion to look at a woman walking by. We objectify regularly. We feel unwarranted jealousy when a cute girl we barely know has a crush on someone else. We feel a territorial ownership of the females in our lives. The offenders are not some alien species.

I am not suggesting that we should feel guilty for having desires, fantasies or for feeling protective. My goal is to make men aware that these natural instincts feed an unnatural cultural problem. We overlook everyday sexism because it strokes our egos, exploits our desires and skews the balance in our favor.

Much of our behavior and our media bombard women (and men) with the idea that they aren’t worth our time (or maybe anything) if they are not attractive and/or eager to pleasure us. Like the sexy fast food commercials that make our mouths water and our balls twitch. And the cheerleader kicking her legs apart every time our team scores. It’s everywhere. And it’s great, right? A system that tells women that if they desire a man’s attention they must be hot and ready—why wouldn’t we want to keep that system? For one, it’s manipulation. It is also oppression. And it is so pervasive that women police each other on our behalf. And yet it’s still not getting us what we want: to be desired.

We want women to think we are great. Our egos require women to think that we are great. Think? What, like men? System failure. Despite what we are taught, it turns out that women do think and men do have feelings. All the self-doubt that we encourage in women for our benefit instead feeds our own self-doubt. When we can’t tell if a woman thinks we are awesome or if she is simply looking for male validation, our egos cannot truly be satisfied – even if our balls are.

By the way, I despise manipulation and sexism when it comes from women too. I am just focusing on what I think is the heart of the problem. Yes, men get hurt by women. I have been hurt and rejected by women. That it is a part of life. Culture-wide objectification, dissatisfaction, and daily terror don’t have to be.

From as early as we can remember, sexism is passed onto us. We’ve all heard our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and/or favorite movie characters talking about how women are irrational or too complex to understand. We’re told “to keep a woman happy, just say sorry,” or the slightly more blatant “bitches be crazy.” This is dehumanization. From childhood. We weren’t born sexist and we don’t have to pass it on.

As I type this, my son is watching Power Rangers. One of the male characters just said to his buddy, “I saw her first!” As though she is the front seat and he just called “shotgun!” Objectification is everywhere. From childhood. (For the record, I just explained to my son that it is not up to those Power Rangers who the girl likes, and that she doesn’t have to like either of them.)

Until we, as males, change our deeply engrained expectations we will never be innocent bystanders. We start by taking responsibility for our insecurities. By how we talk about women when women aren’t around. By knowing that our worth is not measured by how much women desire us. By how we anonymously comment online. By how we raise our young boys and girls as equals: if it’s not cool for your daughter to have sex, it’s not cool for your son either. By how we listen to her with the same respect we would give our mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, best friends and acquaintances.  Just because there is ALSO a part of you that would totally bone her silly if you could—in an alternate universe, in a vacuum, in your head, or wherever—it doesn’t mean you can disrespect her in the real world.

This isn’t to say you can’t make advances. If you want to explore real world options with her just pay attention to her words and body language. And take the hint. Who knows? Whether it’s a one-night stand or a lifetime of commitment, she may actually want what you want! However, if she doesn’t —and this is the crucial part —Let. It. Go. Even if you are the most awesome guy in the world, and spend a lifetime wooing her, you are not entitled to ANYTHING! “But I put a ring on it!” Is NOT an excuse. If you don’t like what you’re getting back in return, communicate. Use your words.  You’re a big boy. If your feelings and desires don’t matter to her, move along. She’s clearly not who you are looking for. No amount of emotional or physical manipulation can change that.

Oh and you don’t have to respect all women. You don’t have to respect all men either. If you don’t respect someone, move along. That’s equality. That’s feminism. Just because it starts with “fem” doesn’t make it pro female or anti male… it is literally “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women EQUAL to those of men.”

If we want a leg to stand on when we claim that it’s “NOT ALL MEN” then we need to be less defensive when women stereotype us, and be more offended when men perpetuate the stereotype. Some of us may have stood up for women in obviously harmful cases, but we need to do it in the “harmless” ones too. For too long we have laughed at the sexist joke­­—whether because we thought in funny or wanted to fit in. Let’s be pioneers. Let’s be revolutionary. I can’t think of anything more manly.  Plus, chicks will totally dig it.