As I waded into the historic crowd gathered in front of the Texas Capitol the morning after Donald Trump’s swearing in, I was taken aback by the diversity of the Women’s March crowd. There were thousands of women; police estimate 40,000 people turned out in Austin alone. But there were also a sizable number of whole families compared to other protests I’ve observed, Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street.
Some had predicted that the women’s marches would turn into a platform for liberalism. Sure every topic from education to immigration was present, but I couldn’t look in a single direction without seeing signage riffing off that infamous Trump tape. The one that brought numerous claims of assault and harassment against Trump, the one most pundits predicted would surely sink him in the last minutes of the campaign.
But it didn’t. And ABC News estimates more than one million marchers showed up across the nation (many in pink pussy hats inspired by that tape) to show their support for women under this standard set by the newly-elected leader of the free world.
The thread through this movement was women’s equality, and I was thoroughly impressed by the number of men who showed up in support.
Now, more than ever, we men must support women and prioritize equality. Because, and I assure you of this, gender equality should not be presented to the male generation coming of age as a partisan issue in the 21st century. It is something that should be in the forefront of our minds, because it is in the forefront of our sisters’, mothers’, friends’ and daughters’ minds every single day.
I spoke with men and women at the Women’s March, and they offered several things we men can keep in mind on a daily basis as we try to be the best allies for gender equality:
Don’t be afraid of equality. Women expressed to me that they perceive the men around them who are silent on women’s rights as too afraid to talk about a goal that should be seen as a human right.
Social media is reaching a peak moment as a place for constant, hyper-politicized conversation. The new never-ending stream of commentary requires a digitally savvy male to at least attempt to understand where women come from before sharing even supportive information or articles. Any male living in 2017 runs the risk of being rightfully called out by a woman for attempting to steal the moment away from those who are actually disenfranchised.
It’s important to recognize that the path to supporting the women in your life should not include drawing attention to yourself for doing so, rather you should be using your perch to lift them into the spotlight.
Talk to your daughters, sisters and wives about how you can support them. All of the male marchers that I spoke to said they had conversations with at least one female in their life whom they cared about regarding women’s equality. One young man even joked that a particular family member who wouldn’t let him forget it.
Don’t leave it to the ones you love, be the initiator and ask questions.
Speak up in the face of misogyny. The idle misogyny that men often subconsciously ignore festers in conversation among men behind closed doors.
I came across a woman holding a sign urging boys not to be boys, it was a play off of the well-known boys-will-be-boys defense of men’s disrespectful and in some cases damaging, degrading actions to women. She stressed to me the importance men should place on language that is deemed mere joking. It’s important to recognize that we men aren’t doing ourselves any favors when we let it coast by in talks with other men. Identifying this kind of talk and who in your personal life tends to initiate it is the first step.
Show up and don’t sit idly by while the women in your life try their best to hit every curve ball our society throws them. Whether it’s public displays like the march or daily actions, when you have opportunities to offer support, it’s best not to stay at home.
Dom DiFurio is a member of the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.