While in Washington, D.C. at the Women’s March, I was completely overwhelmed by a myriad of sights: the posters, the support, the friendly faces, the sheer volume of people. But there was one thing that resonated deeper than the rest: the number of men marching alongside the women. These were men of all ages, races, sexual identities, religions, and ethnicities who came to support invaluable freedoms just as loudly and proudly as the ladies. This wasn’t only the case in D.C.—it occurred in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and across all fifty states. Every city hosting a march witnessed men taking to the streets, helping the day earn the title of the largest protest in United States history.
The support from home also left a deep impression. I was touched to learn of the men who drove the special woman in their life to a bus stop before dawn. And the men who stood up to the social media trolls harassing female marchers. And the men who shared photos and videos from the day, again with just as much enthusiasm as their female counterparts. And the men who offered shelter, warm food, and encouraging calls and texts. And the men who checked in to confirm the women they care about made it home safely.
For all the appreciative women who don’t have a platform to do so, let me thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my infuriated, determined, energized, proud, inspired heart. You recognize that as Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and you have shown that human rights for all matter to you, even if they do not directly impact you.
You should know that so much of the progress we aspire to make in the future starts with you. But it didn’t start with you at the march; it started with you years ago.
It started with you when you told your teammates in the locker room not to call a cheerleader a slut. It started with you when you decided not to join the other guys catcalling the women walking past. It started with you when you asked your girlfriend if you could kiss her before leaning in.
And for all those previous instances of supporting and respecting women, I thank you again.
Never underestimate the difference you have made, or the significance of your positive influence, both directly and indirectly.
Those around you are always watching. There is no doubt that the females in your life take notice of your habits and actions. This validation of self-worth and backing of basic rights means more to women than can be articulated. Yet the influence you have on the men you associate with every day is just as momentous. All these men—teammates, friends, classmates, fraternity brothers, co-workers, family—are looking at you. Therefore, who knows the reach your support has had. If you impacted one male in any of these exchanges, and then they impacted one other male through their own future exchanges, your reach is truly boundless.
I’d be remiss to overlook those who you have the greatest ability to impact—the boys in your lives. Their minds are sponges and the way they act as they grow older will be a direct reflection of the examples they see put forth by you. Many signs at the march read, “our daughters are watching us;” we cannot forget that our sons are watching, too.
So thank you. You have helped give women hope, and that hope will guide us through.
All of us.
Photos courtesy of author