Chloe Bagley | Staff Writer
At 2.6 million strong, Women’s Marches crush expectations,” “750k Flock to Downtown L.A. for Women’s March,” “Crowds Pack Washington Streets for Women’s March.” These were the headlines that flooded our news feeds on Jan. 21, when individuals across the country took to the streets in their cities to stand in solidarity for women’s rights. Everywhere headlines spoke about the 500,000 women who showed up in Washington D.C., and the 750,000 women who protested in Los Angeles. What was not so heavily advertised were the men who also gave up their Saturday to stand alongside their sisters, daughters, wives and fellow Americans.
The day of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration was an emotional day for many Americans. The President’s words and actions leading up to his election and eventually his inauguration have caused many minority groups in our country to feel unprotected and unrepresented. Groups of American women particularly have voiced their concern for the Trump presidency and decided their opinions will not go unheard. The Women’s March on Washington’s official website states:
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Devin Wilkening, a former Azusa Pacific student currently living in Seattle, attended the Women’s March in Seattle last month with a desire to stand up for women.
“I decided to attend for my friends who face discrimination because of their sex, gender identity, race, origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation. I choose to exercise my right as an American citizen to peacefully protest when I think something is wrong,” Wilkening said.
When asked about what it means to be a man empowering women, Wilkening responded, “Being a man in America means privilege. I think it is so important for men to rally around women of all types and use that privilege for good. Now, more than ever.”
Wilkening also shared his thoughts on why he felt his presence at the march to be crucial during this turning point for our country, saying, “I think it was important for me to show that men can and should be making a statement too. Women are not alone in this fight.”
Wilkening was accompanied by thousands of other men in the U.S. who believe they can make a difference for women in our country. Among them were many male celebrities such as John Legend, who attended in Park City, Utah, as well as James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who were seen at the Los Angeles Women’s March.
In a post on his Facebook account, Jake Gyllenhaal, who attended the march in D.C. with his sister Maggie, shared that after the march, “It was more clear than ever that women are the real stewards of our country’s soul.” In a self-recorded interview for a mini-documentary called HitRecord, Gordon-Levitt shared why he felt compelled to participate in the Women’s March in LA. Gordon-Levitt, who accompanied his wife and son, said, “I was raised to identify with [the] women’s movement. I credit my mother for that.”
The Women’s March on Washington was strongly supported by feminists, male and female, all over the country. But the march was not about being a woman at all. Feminism and women’s rights are about equality, and that is something many Americans can support, men included. Fathers, brothers, celebrities and even members of our own Azusa Pacific community along with thousands of other men across the country are working to make this a reality.
For those who feel oppressed and unheard by the Trump presidency, this should be a call to action, an opportunity to support the women in your life and fight alongside of them for their rights. The Women’s March was a reminder that men stand alongside women in their fight for equality.
“I will not allow women to be objectified,” Wilkening said. “I will treat women as equals, not as objects. I am a man who believes women should have every right and opportunity that I do.”