The Women’s Marches re-invigorated and re-inspired the feminist movement—and our community continues to march on. They open up about activism in our Ms. Marches series. (Join the Ms. Marches Facebook group to find protests—and feminists!—near you.)
It’s not too late for a Men’s New Year’s Resolution: to show up in even greater numbers at this year’s Women’s March than ever before. Wherever they’re being held—in Washington, D.C., or Anchorage, Alaska—let’s encourage men to march for gender equity, and to transform manhood.
Women are the principal survivors of gender-based violence. Women earn four-fifths of what men earn. Women and children face the greatest risk from climate catastrophes. Women’s reproductive rights are under attack. Unwavering in their determination to right these wrongs, women are leading a social revolution, from the streets to the ballot box—from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements to women elected to office in 2018 and 2019 in unprecedented numbers. Central to their vision is achieving gender justice in a movement many men consider our cause, too.
The struggle for women’s equality is a struggle for dignity, justice, and freedom in all aspects of women’s lives—from home to work, from bedroom to boardroom. Too many men are slow as molasses to acknowledge the injustices women face.
What can men do?
First, take stock. Women’s marches can spur men to examine our lives—each step is a chance to do some soul-searching, asking ourselves how we have contributed to prejudice, discrimination and abuse of women. With the insights we gain, we can help transform masculinity—and ourselves.
Let’s march as fathers, caregivers, grandfathers and mentors raising boys to value compassion over competition, collaboration over isolation. Let’s march as sons, brothers, uncles and nephews who recognize that “standard issue” manhood constricts our emotional lives and stops us from seeing how we can be whole human beings. Let’s march as husbands and partners who recognize that when women are respected and empowered, they are happier—and so is everyone around them.
Let’s march with signs reading “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” and “Another Man Against Violence Against Women.”
We’ll be following in the proud tradition of another historic movement: women’s suffrage. This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s struggle to gain the right to vote. Many men dedicated themselves to that cause, marching behind a banner proclaiming, “Men’s League for Women Suffrage.” These “suffragents” were steadfast in promoting women’s enfranchisement—and on January 18, surrounded by a sea of women in pussycat hats carrying signs signifying their resolve to never turn back, men can take another.
For at least two generations, men of all races and ethnicities around the world have been working to prevent domestic and sexual violence, and to redefine and transform traditional ideas about manhood, fatherhood and brotherhood. Voice Male, the magazine I edit, has been chronicling those efforts for three decades, and this story’s next chapter will be told in part by men who join women at the march and beyond.
Beginning in 2017, men joined the first Women’s March in large numbers. For this year’s march on January 18, let’s recruit more. Seek them out in the locker room and the faith community; the poker game and the coffee shop. Invite them to not only advocate for gender justice, but also to speak out for racial, economic, religious and environmental justice.
If we can get out of our own way, breathe through our fear of empowered women—if we’re ready to confront a misplaced dread of feminism—there’s a new world awaiting where men will live richer, more emotionally expressive lives.
If the collaborations and partnerships among women and men over the past few decades have taught me nothing else, it is that men and boys can be part of not just a women’s march, but a women-directed social revolution. There’s a place for good men in this movement. We don’t have to man up, but we do have to stand up.