Reflecting on the remarkable women who raised him, Bryan Reeves calls for men who honor women to stand up and teach men who don’t know how.
I really love women.
I don’t just mean that I love women in that purely sexual-attraction way in which it seems some men only know how to relate to loving women.
I also don’t mean that I love women in that condescending way in which some men say they love women like they love a comfortable shoe.
I mean, I absolutely love everything that women stand for and contribute to this planet.
I’m a passionate Male Feminist because 20 years ago, when I was a teenager and my country was bombing Iraq and powerful men used a woman’s dress to impeach a president, I looked at the dignified, brilliant, charismatic women who were holding my young world together and asked myself: “Why in goodness’ name aren’t there more women leading humanity’s way in the world?”
I grew up with two amazing mothers (mom and step-mom, married to dad and step-dad) and three dynamic sisters. I was essentially raised by a pack of women. It was my moms who held our lives together as my fathers mostly struggled to hold on.
My moms weren’t simply homemakers – not that being “simply homemakers” would make them any less remarkable human beings. In fact, they were homemakers. But they were also humanitarians and business women, too.
My mom, Andrea, Executive Director for 25 years of a Crisis Center in one of the most affluent counties in the country, was recently cited by the Baltimore Sun Newspaper as “an experienced, dedicated hand who transformed [Howard County’s] crisis services from minimal to first-rate … [winning] a reputation as a fierce, effective advocate for the down and out.” A few years ago, she was even inducted into a Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame for her humanitarian bad-assery.
She raised 3 children and saved a family stalked by alcoholism while championing the overlooked and underserved in the world around her. For three decades, she spearheaded essential community services that saved actual lives. She’s a red-haired Wonder Woman with the savvy of a Politician and the heroism of a Fire-Fighter. You could make an action figure out of her.
If we gave her the job, she just might single-handedly save the world. At the very least, everyone would have a safe, warm place to sleep, and there’d be red hummingbird feeders everywhere.
As for my step-mom, she held strong to her own conviction to selflessly serve humanity through some really tough financial years when I was young. Her almost insane 30-year perseverance finally paid off when her innovative health technology company hit $50 Million in sales and people all over the world were using products she had researched and funded in the 70s and 80s.
She created that success not with cutthroat competitive ways, but with elegance and a generosity like I’ve never seen anywhere else. In all my years watching her take friends, family, clients and collaborators to dinner, man or woman, she always paid the bill. Her generosity was the one thing people could always count on when nothing else was working. She gave everything to the world around her. She still does.
It seems silly to say, but I’m gonna say it: Women are remarkable.
Living in a world that still doesn’t completely respect, adore and empower women in every single way seems literally insane to me.
We men must play a critical role in the feminist movement because we’re too often the ones in their way.
Too many of us still shut women out and prevent their voices from being heard – or we just dismiss them when we do hear them. In the tech industry, after 10 years of work experience highly qualified women leave at more than twice the rate as men, routinely citing demeaning, hostile and condescending attitudes towards them in the workplace.
I have a brilliant female friend who runs deep in NYC’s entrepreneurial and venture capital world as a business coach and consultant. She recently told me it’s normal for men to treat her like a waitress at networking events.
This is all backwards.
When women are fully appreciated and allowed to blossom to their own potential, to give their wondrous gifts to their families and communities and businesses, the world can transform into a magnificent place. Children eat better, people grow up happier, companies perform well, economies thrive, and governments take much better care of their people.
Those of us that know how to fully honor and cherish women must stand up, as Men, and hold accountable those men who don’t yet know how. They’ll listen to us with respect, even if only through angry, gritted teeth at first. For surely most every man yearns, somewhere in his being, for an abundant world of beauty and brilliance that can only exist when women are fully empowered to help create it.
I’m absolutely convinced that even men who don’t yet honor, appreciate and empower women are aching deep inside, even if unconsciously, to learn how.
We must show them.
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—Photo credit Bryan Reeves/author