Men are my favorite part of celebrating womanhood.
I love scrolling through my social media feeds and seeing the ways in which men choose to celebrate women.
For example, during the Women’s March in January, a little boy in Idaho Falls showed his support by holding a sign that said, “Girls can do anything! Yay!”
Even on International Women’s Day last week, I loved seeing husbands, brothers, friends and fathers share their love and appreciation for the women in their lives.
It breaks my heart when sometimes in the name of standing up for women’s rights, women begin man-bashing. I understand that most women who speak about men in such awful terms are coming from a place of pain, and I do not judge them for that.
However, I think men have the potential to truly help women become their best selves.
In fact, in my own life, men —possibly more than women — have helped me develop a strong sense of self-worth throughout my life.
I cannot celebrate being a woman without them.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have collected positive male influences in my life who have helped shape me into the woman I am today.
Because my parents were divorced when I was a baby and both remarried, I had the opportunity to grow up having two stellar fathers who each have played vital roles in my life.
Even as a little girl, my dad in Utah spoke to me with respect. To this day, some of my most complex conversations are with him.
My dad in Montana has supported me in literally every good thing I’ve ever wanted to do, from dance lessons to a mission to college.
But they weren’t the only positive men in my life.
I have had outstanding male teachers, brothers, uncles, cousins, grandparents, employers, church leaders and friends.
They were the ones who told me I could do anything I wanted to in life and do it well. They were often the ones who challenged my mind, not in an attempt to make me feel inferior but to help me grow. They were the ones who passionately encouraged me to get an education.
They celebrated my successes and helped me pick myself up when I failed. They let me know things would always work out in the end. They appreciated me for who I am, even when they couldn’t understand my point of view.
So, while I celebrate being a woman this month, I feel immense gratitude for the men who helped me get where I am.
To all the men who have been my mentors, thank you.
I recognize not every woman has been blessed with the same experiences I’ve had with men.
One look through a history book or around the world can prove that. I know that some women today are still belittled by the men around them, and it makes my heart ache. That needs to stop.
But I hope all women who have had positive experiences with the men around them will acknowledge that and will stand up for them when others tear them down.
Let us work together to raise each other to a higher moral standard of fairness and equality. Let us stand together.