No, not all of you. This one goes out to the men who have never, and will never, sexually exploit another human for their own personal satisfaction. As a wife, a mother, and as a woman in this community, I want to offer a personal thank you to you. You aren’t talked about enough, and I think it’s about time that you were recognized.
To law enforcement agents and first responders like my husband, who choose this job to help others and not because you think it gives you easy access to hurting and vulnerable women and youth. Thank you for protecting and saving lives even in the face of hatred.
To young men like my 18-year-old son, Elijah, and his best friend, Michael. Who ran outside when they heard a woman being sexually assaulted by a man at three in the morning. Thank you for being the kind of men who protect instead of egg on a rapist. We’ve seen enough of that in the news and countless universities. Thank you for being the kind of men who stand between a victim and her abuser, so she knows she isn’t alone while you wait for the police to arrive.
To the men who take their role of teacher seriously. Thank you for taking the time to teach my daughters how healthy men talk to girls. For never asking for their SnapChat or sexting them over the weekend. Thank you for modeling how young men should speak to their female peers and teaching my sons how to honor women.
To the coaches who do not condone pornography in the locker rooms or perverted talk among their players. Thank you for setting a higher standard of what is normal instead of the exhausting diatribe of “boys will be boys” that seems to have taken hold in settings like these. You are creating a ripple effect of respect that these young men will carry with them into their marriages.
To the celebrity that wields his fame well. Thank you for knowing that your position brings a level of responsibility that only you can choose to wear well. Your status has the ability to cause others to turn a blind eye to some of your behaviors. Thank you for being the kind of man that never needs that sort of special treatment because you choose to be a man who behaves honorably.
To the pastor, youth leaders, and Christian authors and musicians. Thank you deeply for giving my children an example of how Christ would have loved if he was standing in your shoes today. For creating spaces and words and art that reflects the heart of a Christ follower and directs people to God’s love and truths.
To politicians like my brother, Kristopher, who take to heart what it means to be in a position of authority and never abusing that. Some politicians hire children to massage them after a stressful day. But people like you remember that you are here to protect our kids, not exploit them at your whim.
To the guy at the grocery store. You were so kind to pay me a compliment about my hair, and never once did you come across as a creep because your heart was right. And the guy that held the door for me even though you weren’t sure how I would respond because you’ve apparently been yelled at by women for holding doors in the past. Thank you. I can hold my own door, but I don’t need to because you were gentleman enough to offer. Please never stop trying. If someone yells at you, remember that you aren’t the problem.
Thank you to the step-fathers who cherish their step-daughters and stand in when biological fathers can’t or won’t. And never once does it cross your mind that you are entitled to your step-daughter’s body. To the foster fathers who face some of the most hurting little girls and insist on being their safe space. Please, keep standing with your broad shoulders and teddy bear hugs. We need more of all of that in this world.
To the famous athletes who look in the face of what’s common in their sport and say, “We don’t buy girls. No matter how much money we make.” Even if you only make a difference to one girl, you are making a difference. Thank you for never giving in.
You men are the real heroes. I am sorry that the worst men seem to get all the airplay, but believe me when I say you matter. You are making the most difference.
One Grateful Mama
This piece originally appeared at shontellbrewer.com, published with permission.