Why am I, as a man, going to D.C. for the Woman’s March on Washington? First it’s important that we support and walk with a collection of people who hold firmly to the idea that women’s rights and empowerment are human rights. Although there is plenty of historical evidence for me to engage in a presumptuous protest toward our president, I want instead to participate in producing a large, bold, colorful, dynamic, and loud reminder that civil rights, civic responsibility and civil discourse are part of what makes this country great. I march because I believe that our collective creativity and generosity of spirit is the foundation we can build on to make a future with greater equality, greater access, and greater opportunity for everyone. I want to stand with a collective of mindful individuals who don’t want to lose ground on the once “radical” idea that “all are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights …life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” Standing together, building community, celebrating our voices, and connecting to others throughout the world around issues of equality, peace, and human rights is the only way we can ensure that our union becomes more perfect with each generation that passes through it. That we have to remind ourselves now that women’s rights are a part of human rights is sad – but I don’t march because I am sad, or even because I am angry, I march to celebrate that though a few still need to join an egalitarian, 21st community, there are millions of us already building and living in it.
Secondarily, as a man, I also march to the spirit of Floyd Dell who prophetically said in 1914 “feminism is going to make it possible for the first time for men to be free.” In my counseling practice and in my own life, I’ve discovered that though men are afforded certain kinds of power, that power hasn’t necessarily made them free. Within the confines of the gender binary, males deny their own humanity time and again. They disown sensitivity and compassion as weakness—this is a rite of passage, this is the cost of being a man. With that cost, men lose the emotional and relational intelligence that would make them free to be fully human – to need others, to share community, to be enriched by culture. We know that when men disown and disrespect their own human qualities they all too often project this disrespect—sexism– and even hatred—misogyny—onto women. And we know that this creates a pattern that can lead to social ills like domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment. I am marching because I want these ills to be made well. I want the violence to stop. But, I’m also marching because I want to be free of them – I want men to be free of the illnesses that cause them. When men cannot experience emotion, tenderness and connectivity without violence – they are not free.
Finally, as a man, in this pursuit of civil rights, I am marching for others. As we move into a more informed and inclusive world, I want to learn the lesson of these last couple of years. We must make a future where everyone has a seat at the table, and we must make our table hospitable to others of all sorts. The urban transgendered youth of color and the aging white, rural machinist have both contributed to the bold and dynamic future we are building. Too often, too many feel divided and excluded from that future. I am marching to build a community where we can feel more together. Community building is one of our oldest, most sacred and most challenging tasks. All of our holiest stories tell us that, since the beginning, civilization has been fighting the sin of inhospitality. We want to belong, have identity, feel safe, but we are terrified that “the other” religions, races, sexes, etc. might invade and ruin our way of life. This inhospitality–so seductively powered by fear–has haunted us for too long. We have to stand together for a society, a humanity, a country, a future that can follow the pulse of evolution. We have to work together for a world that can heed the sweetness of civilization, and can celebrate the community involved in the building of God’s kingdom here on earth. I march with red, yellow, black, brown and white Americans wanting to pledge allegiance to American as “ONE nation under God with justice and liberty for all.”