To all of the men in my life: the beloved friends from high school, college, and beyond,
to my family, like the cousin who just graduated or the cousin that was just married,
to my father and to the men that I haven’t met yet,
I want you to know that I see you as human beings first, and your manhood is not a guilty verdict to me.
I want you to know that I have complete faith in your humanity and intelligence, and believe that you will be able to accept women and members of the non-binary as your equals with respect and compassion.
I hope that someday we live in a world where it is okay for you to cry if you want or need to.
I hope that we can all overcome the “machismo” idea and that your testosterone level will no longer be the bar by which your worth is measured.
That you can be in touch with your emotions and be able to communicate them without being insulted or having your manhood questioned,
I hope that men someday will not get the side-eye for wanting to be a stay-at-home dad,
and that custody of children will be granted either to both parents, or the parent who proves to be the best parent, genitals nonwithstanding.
I hope that you can give yourselves a break – you don’t have to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodied, Donald Trump rich and powerful sort of guy that you see on the covers of GQ. I hope you know that you are so much more than your “V” shape, shoulder-to-waist ratio.
That if you want to grow a ponytail and a beard, or rock an Army-style buzzcut, or get tattoos or wear pastel colored polo shirts, (just like a woman cutting her hair or wearing stilettos) it’s your prerogative, and I respect it.
I hope that someday you will no longer find yourself in the odd position between your “guys” whom you so badly wish to bond with, and the women who want you to speak up against sexism. I hope this ends, because sexism would be a thing of the past, and you will hear no such talk at your guy’s night.
I hope that you understand your sex life, or lack thereof, has no bearing on your worth as a person. The amount of “pussy” you can or cannot get has no effect on your respectability. I hope that you offer the same understanding to the women in your life.
I hope that you have enough respect for yourself to believe all men can indeed “help it,” and that men can stop rape culture. I want you to know that I do not think that your base is that of a rapist. I believe that you are better than that, and that making an excuse such as “men can’t help it” or the like is disrespectful to men as well as women.
I hope that you continue to be examples of good, open-minded men who are allies for women and other marginalized groups.
I hope you understand while feminism has positive side effects for men, that the intent of feminism is to help women out of their place in the corners, and that you can continue to be evolved enough to understand why this is good and does not harm you.
I hope you look at MRAs and other like-minded male individuals and see, as I do, that they are doing an incredible disservice to the men everywhere by daring to speak such ignorance and hate on your behalf.
To the gay men in the world, I hope you know that I will always stand by your side. That me and mine have nothing but respect for you. That we understand you are individuals with individual experiences and lives, not props or character types or plot devices.
To the men who may have been born in a different body, and also to male-bodied people with a broader or gender queer identity – I want you to know that I don’t assume to have you all figured out. But I promise that I will not become so caught up in what pronouns to use around you that I forget your name. I hope you know that I want to learn, I want to listen to your voices, I want to lend you a hand if you need help carrying it all.
To the men of color, I am sorry that we live in a world where I have to acknowledge your unique position. I want you to know that I am on your side.
I hope that male survivors of rape and/or domestic abuse understand that they are not at fault and they did not deserve what happened to them. That they have every right to due process and respect, and that any ridicule they may face is abhorrent. That their manhood does not diminish their experience and that their experience does not diminish their manhood.
I want all the men to know that I do not assume they are my enemy. That while I try my best to be a voice for women, that does not mean I have forgotten the men who have made my life better.
I want the men in my life to know how much I appreciate, care for, and love them. I hope you know that I see only the best in you. That you are irreplaceable to me.
I want the men in my life to know that I want only good things for them. That there is no “punishment” for men in feminism, just solidarity, equality, and good vibes.
That as a feminist I am incredibly grateful for your support in a world that is so against me.
That I believe both women and men can do better, and be better.
“To him I’m no longer merely a usable body. To him I’m not just a boat with no cargo, a chalice with no wine in it, an oven – to be crude – minus the bun. To him I am not merely empty.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale