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Urban Etiquette

Ellen Vanstone answers your questions about the annoying behaviours, poor manners and impatient encounters that dot the days of a city dweller.

Urban Etiquette: Why should men attend the Women's March if we are the enemy?

I can’t answer these questions because I only have room for 400 words here, but I can give some general advice, writes Ellen Vanstone.

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Ani Castillo / For Metro

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Dear Ellen,

My girlfriend is going on the Women’s March this weekend and she wants me to come, but isn’t it for women? Why do they want men to come if men are the enemy? I’m not sure I should go, but I’m afraid to say no, because no matter what I do, some woman is going to bite my head off just for being male. Advice?

Mr. XY

Dear Mr. XY,

Man oh man, if I were a man right now, I’d definitely have some questions, like: How was I supposed to know my entire upbringing based on millennia of patriarchal conditioning was wrong? Why should I feel bad just because a bunch of other men are harassers and rapists? How am I supposed to know how to change when women angrily say they’re sick of explaining the problem? What if some crazy female accuses me of something — aren’t men allowed to a fair hearing anymore? Why am I being openly discriminated against by women in my personal and professional life? Help!

I can’t answer these questions because I only have room for 400 words here, but I can give some general advice: First, accept that massive change is never easy for anyone, and relinquish your dream of a smooth, fair, or logical transition.

Yes, there will be casualties, but fewer than the many women and men victimized by the patriarchal lie that some individual humans are worth more than others.

Second, while you may feel unjustly silenced, you can still listen, and the effects of active listening can be profoundly beneficial all round.

As for the Women’s March, all decent gents will want to join in, and sensible women will welcome their support for the following reasons:

The Women’s March isn’t just about sexual assault. It’s about reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers' rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. For everyone.

Studies show that educating girls and enforcing equal rights and pay for women can drive up GDP, lower infant mortality, increase the equitability of the distribution of wealth, lead to more diversity for men as well as women in areas traditionally dominated by white men, lessen domestic violence and accelerate democratic reforms in authoritarian regimes. Seriously, you can Google it.

Men are not the enemy of women. The patriarchal treatment of women as objects and men as macho machines is the enemy of us all. And we all need to march on Jan. 20 in support of smashing the patriarchy together. It’s the polite thing to do.

Check out for the march nearest you.

Need advice? Email Ellen:

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