To all the beautiful men in my life: thank you for being in this together.

10 things I know to be true: six.

from the “This is what feminism looks like” campaign

This post was going to be very angry. I was frustrated, violated, ready to wage a war. The amount of misogyny and sexism were too much for me to handle. I felt the blood running down my face, the louder-than-life typing, the startling silence from the coward, ignorant, unfortunately much-too-common violator.

In such moments of non-clarity, I searched for that little light inside me, the spot I’ve tried to save and nourish all these years, exactly for moments like this. The spot is filled with words of ancient wisdom.

“An eye for an eye only makes the world go blind.”- Gandhi.
“Always forgive your enemies. That will annoy them much more.” — Oscar Wilde.
“What people say about you is never about you — it’s a reflection of themselves.” — Les Brown.

So I decided, instead, to make peace, and write a post full of love and gratitude. I dedicate this post to all the wonderful men in my life whom we angry feminists often take for granted. You are fighting a battle that’s equally hard to face too, of machoism, of double-standards, of reverse sexism. For that, I can only say: thank you.

Thank you grandfather, for always believing in my potentials and chances to fly, not in spite of being a woman, but exactly because of that. Thank you for telling me from as early as I could remember: “I have the deepest respect for women. We men are indebted to them from the moment we were born, as we are all women’s children.” You lost your first and only daughter, but the love you give to and receive from all the women in your life hopefully made up for that.

Thank you father, for quitting cigarettes and alcohol the moment you got married, because mom didn’t want you to smoke or drink. Thank you for being the commander-in-chief of housework, department laundry (always) and department cleaning (occasionally), although you are incapable of department cooking. Thank you for being cool with mom and myself not cooking most days. Thank you for understanding our workload.

Thank you brother, for having grown up so kind-hearted, understanding, and gender-defying. Thank you for readily sharing when your high-pitch voice was made fun of, and for kissing me and mom even to this day. Thank you for bearing with my monthly leading-to-period rants (“you’ll never understand”, I’d say. “How can I though?”, he must have thought). Thank you for befriending and surrounding yourself with wonderful girl-friends who educated you early on about #womenpower. Thank you for shamelessly watching Michelle Phan, Essiebutton, and serial beauty channels with me, cause why not channeling your inner makeup artist ? Thank you for being cool with the label “gay”, even though you are the straightest guy I know.

Thank you first boyfriend, for crying out loud: “can I be weak and vulnerable sometimes to you too?” when asked “I need a shoulder to cry on, can I depend on you?” Thank you for sharing with me your insecurities, your cul-de-sac being the only man in a room full of bitter women, for opening my eyes about the other side of the struggle we all face. Thank you for telling me I’m beautiful despite all societal standards and norms dictating that I’m not.

Thank you special someone, for making me feel like I’m stronger than I am, prettier than I feel, more independent than I need to be. Thank you for dealing with my irrationality with calmness and maturity, even when I threw hurtful and double-standard words at you like “I feel like a man in this relationship!”

Thanks to all my gay friends who have come out, for being your awesome, authentic, amazing selves. Thanks, as well, to those who choose not to come out yet protect us women and therefore all humanity against agony, hatred, and misery, with your silent fight. We are proud to have you always by our side.

Thank you that awesome colleague of mine, who shared with me his biggest insecurity being “overshadowed by my own brother.” Not many men whom I respect can readily say that.

I can go on and on. But my moment of clarity has been reached. And I understand that this battle can not be fought vocally alone.

Athena Talks is a global movement that aims to help young women mature, budding professionals grow and leaders become advocate for equality. Join our community of writers, mentors & mentees here or on Facebook. Updates on global events and mentorship programs in San Francisco, Hanoi and Hochiminh City coming soon.

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