Men of integrity,
I do not think you hear this enough
You matter.
You are needed.
You are valuable.

Fathers
Brothers
Uncles
Friends
Sons
Men who keep their promises
Men who value a woman’s mind and spirit,
As much as her physique
Men who protect
Men who lead
Men who show care

As a little girl, I daydreamed of marrying a man like you
A man who was kind, brave and chivalrous
Like in every romantic movie
Girl meets boy
They fall in love
And live happily ever after

But in my story,
You don’t come along to rescue me
You see, I never needed you to save me
I wanted you
To complement me,
For us to walk hand-in-hand
For you to be the yin to my yang,
The salt to my pepper

You would never fault me
For having opinions of my own
For having a voice and being unafraid to use it
For enjoying getting messy and my proclivity to “play with the boys”
My knowledge of sports would make us friends
My travels and life abroad would intrigue you
My quirks would make you laugh
My intellect and drive would not intimidate you
You would love these things about me,
In fact, my independent and wild nature would be some of my selling points

You appreciate that I always have questions,
Always wanting to do things my own way
As a kid, I remember my mom reminding me
“The indoor chores are yours”
This meant the cleaning, dish washing, laundry, setting the table
“Woman chores” were for me
I would roll my eyes as I set the table and watch my brother in front of the TV
My mom said the outdoor chores were his
Cutting the lawn, raking the leaves, trimming the bushes
I wanted to show her how wrong this way of thinking was
That being a girl shouldn’t confine me to any one thing,
Even when it comes to something as simple as household chores
You would agree with me
And know your way around the kitchen too

You wouldn’t want to change this part of me
This part of me that dares to break the mold
The part of me that presses boundaries, challenges stereotypes
You would come alongside me and embolden it
You would challenge me, always calling me higher in everything I do
You would never let me settle for mediocre
Encouraging me to pursue my dreams with relentless pursuit
My dreams would not lessen yours
But we would walk arm-in-arm, partners in this life

Your kindness would be evident in all you do
In the way you treat others
In the way you love yourself
In the way you hold the door for me
And always walk on the outside of sidewalk (just in case)
You would shower me with compliments
As much as you do acts of kindness
Your love would be tangible and not just lip service

Your humility would be on full display
In how you speak to others, in how you treat them
Even in how you speak of yourself
Never afraid to apologize for your mistakes,
You would take ownership over your emotions and thoughts
You would walk in confidence, not arrogance
You would lead with intention and care, not pride
You would call other men higher,
Speaking against toxic masculinity
You would show other men how to honor women,
And treat them with intrinsic value and worth

Emotions would never be something you shy away from
You would use them as a tool to articulate
And like water to seeds, you use emotions to deepen the relationships around you
You would know that real men, in fact, do cry,
And that age-old adage was born out of pride
That you are unafraid to dismantle
You would never shy away from vulnerability
Because in honesty, authentic relationship takes root

You would lead me in humility and strength,
You would show care for my heart, guarding it
Being clear with your intentions in all that you do
You would know that our differences, as man and woman
Do not equate to weaknesses
But together we make a masterpiece

Men of integrity, you are needed.
Please don’t forget.

Images via The Tony Li Project, Darling Issue No. 17

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3 comments

  1. “Men of integrity value what is honest, true, noble, trustworthy, kind, and right, ahead of personal gain. ”
    I think the following

    Grate peace

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