WASHINGTON, DC — At least 500,000 people attended the Women’s March on Washington, and while most of the marchers were women, a substantial portion of attendees were men, despite early reports suggesting that men might not turn out in great numbers.
After all, there were arguments about whether men were welcome in general. Even men who wanted to attend didn’t know the march was inclusive to them, since the name and platform were centered on women. Any confusion leading up to the march about who it was for, who could participate, and why it was important to show up in person, though, was sorted out by Saturday. Men arrived at the National Mall on Saturday morning to rally for women and gender equality, and also stand up for other marginalized groups and pressing issues.
As New Yorker Spencer Edwards put it, “Women’s struggles are human rights struggles.” His partner Steve Saporito added, “Solidarity includes showing support in DC to help make it as big a demonstration as possible.”
The men I spoke with throughout the day listed a variety of reasons they couldn’t have missed the march. “I can’t look back at this time and think: I didn’t do everything I could,” said participant Dan Lomask.
Jossif Ezekilov said, “for too long the women’s movement has not had male participation. Even the most liberal men among us have seen this as a women’s only issue.” He continued, “breaking down a lot of these gender barriers helps everybody. I want to be part of that.”
Several male attendees told me they were inspired to march by female family members. Josh Schorlemmer, who attended with his twin brother Jake, spoke of their mother. “She was a single mom and she worked her ass off for us to have everything we needed,” said Josh. “I think it’s good to be out here so she gets paid the same as men and she has the same rights.”
Jake added, “Not to be the stereotypical twin, but that’s exactly what I was going to say.” Their mom texted them Saturday morning to tell them she was proud.
“I’m a feminist, 100 percent,” Josh said. “I don’t see why everybody doesn’t want to be that.”
Mike Child was another proud feminist male marcher. His sweatshirt read “Feminist AF,” and he told me, “In general, I think that white men don’t do enough shutting up and listening, so that’s why I’m here today.”
Child wasn’t the only self-identifying white man eager to “show solidarity,” as Jason Ashley said: “I’m not a minority in any way. I think it’s important for people like me to come out because we have a lot of institutional power that isn’t necessarily used to help other people, and it’s about to be used to continue the United States’s way of discriminating.”
Trump’s misogynistic campaign demeaned not only women, but essentially every minority group in the country. The Women’s March became the a meeting point for people from many marginalized groups, like Victor Yang, to raise their voices. “I really think we need equality for all, and on top of that I’m a minority, so I feel this isn’t just a march for women, it’s also a march for minorities to demonstrate to the new president that he has to keep us in mind,” he said.
Like many of the women, men also traveled from far and wide to rally and march. Bernard Dunayevich said he flew in the night prior from San Francisco to attend, “just for this. I flew in last night.”
Arthur, a lifelong feminist from Brooklyn, NY, called the march, “an antidote to what happened yesterday.”
“Since I was 12 years-old. I had a mother who was very fair minded and rational and reasonable and it was [the time of] women’s liberation. She explained a few things, and I said, ‘Of course that’s fair.’” I asked him what he thought of the march unfolding around him. “It’s a lot of fun to be here,” he grinned. “The last time I was here was the Obama inauguration. It’s bringing back happy memories.”
But beneath the joy, empowerment, and inspiration some men described feeling, many said there was a deep resolve. “The march today is a trigger to get involved and we’re gonna stay involved,” promised Tom Palley, who also spoke about his daughter and his wife. Another father, George Faraday, said “I have a daughter and I don’t want her to grow up in the kind of world that I think Trump has in mind for women.”