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.
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. 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.
Beginning in 2017, men joined the first women’s march in large numbers. For this year’s march, let’s recruit more men.
With the climate crisis threatening everything, let’s honor Greta Thunberg and a growing youth force rebellion; they are demanding we do more than pay lip service to a planet on fire because of the reckless disregard of privileged white men.
Consider: 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; and it’s women whose 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. For two generations, men of all races and ethnicities in the U.S. and around the world have been working to prevent domestic and sexual violence, and to redefine and transform traditional ideas about manhood, fatherhood and brotherhood.
What can men do? First, take stock. Women’s marches can spur men to examine our lives, each step 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 and brothers, uncles and nephews, who recognize that “standard issue” manhood constricts our emotional lives, blinds 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.
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. We don’t have to man up, but we do have to stand up.
Mr. Okun is editor of Voice Male magazine.