On Saturday, exactly a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, hundreds of thousands of women—and hundreds of men— across the country marched in solidarity for the second year in a row to protest both a president and a patriarchy.
With an administration mired in scandal and dysfunction, and the U.S. government shutdown for only the second time in the past 20 years, thousands of women took to the streets of New York’s Upper West Side on Saturday afternoon to express their frustration and to bond in solidarity. But with 2017’s #MeToo movement morphing from a social-media fad into a full-fledged civil rights campaign, the participation of men have joined the movement and as such many showed up at Saturday’s march to show solidarity with the women in their lives.
“I’m here supporting my wife and daughters,” said Mark Kester, 47. “It’s fairly obvious that equal rights for women are under assault from the right.”
“If I wasn’t here, I’d be in trouble,” said Jerry Krase, 75, with a wry smile aimed at his wife. “If you stay silent then the assumption is no-one cares. Silence is the biggest contributor to abuse.”
Jimmy Li, 68, a tour guide, believes that the most important point of this year’s protest is men joining women to form strength. “A certain consciousness is raised when people come out in numbers. We’re all linked together—what hurts one, hurts everyone,” he said.
Other men said they were motivated to attend the march by an awareness of their status as minorities in a society currently dominated by a perceived patriarchy.
“Just because I’m a man of color, doesn’t mean I can conflate my experiences with those of women,” Ayinde Bennet, 25, said as he held a green Their Bodies, Their Choice poster. As a college counselor, Bennet said he believes #MeToo has made him and his students aware of, “the egregious environment that’s being going on and the privilege men have.”
Some male protesters said their sexuality played a part in increasing their understanding of the issues and motivated them to participate.
“As a gay man, #MeToo has opened my eyes in ways I hadn’t considered,” said Tim McMath, 39, as he marched down West 73rd Street. “I didn’t think about women’s experiences but I’ve become aware of the roadblocks they’ve faced.”
Conversely, some gay men in attendance felt that their sexual orientation gave them a uniquely empathetic understanding of the message that the #MeToo movement and the Second Women’s March is trying to cultivate.
“Gay men understand the glass ceiling mindset,” August Ventura, 61, said as he stood next to his partner, Robert. “Gay men have traditionally been harassed and made to feel like we weren’t full citizens. So we recognize a lot of ourselves in the #MeToo movement.”
Other men simply sought to set an example to their children who accompanied them.
“I wanted to show them, if you can’t do great things, you can do small things in a great way,” said Andrew L., 42, an attorney as he stood with his two young sons. “You can’t be a bystander.”
“I’m here to show my son that everyone matters,” said Ben Morgan, 31, as he held his 1-year-old son in his arms. “A lot of progress has been made but it’s hard to change systems that have been in place for a long time.”
The women in attendance commended the men who joined them at the rally. After witnessing abuse and complicity for decades, Linda Senate, 73, said that the participation of men, “is essential.”
Her friend, Jayne Firtwen, 63, took the participation of men one step further and raised the bar on their role in the aspiring movement: “We’ve always been the ones supporting men, so now it’s their turn to support us.”