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By Teresa Harris

To my brothers, my father, and my friends. To all of the men I love and have loved in my life, I ask you this: please listen, and please learn.

Listen to the message this election has so clearly announced about what our neighbours — and what we can assume many within our own borders — think of powerful females. Hear the words “nasty woman” and “Miss Piggy” and understand where they are coming from. Feel the weight of the fact that the source is America’s 45th President-elect.

Learn that although your intentions may be good, your actions matter. Your words matter. Your legacy — the impression you leave on the countless young boys who will grow into the men of our future — is one of the most important responsibilities you’ll have in your lifetime, and right now the climate is ripe for that legacy to be tainted.

We love you so deeply and wholly that it breaks our hearts to know you, the good and decent ones, have this letter to bear. I ask you to be brave in this time of hostility and confusion and exercise your power for change among your peers. It is critical that you do so.

That is what I ask of you today.

Here is what I do not ask of you.

I do not ask you to rally underneath the women you love and respect in an effort to lift us. I do not ask you to stand in front of us to shield us from the cruel reality we’ve suddenly realized our world represents. We are not frail, and even well-intentioned offerings of protective strength in reality are benevolent insults to our capabilities.

What we need is for your voices to be quiet at times when ours should be heard. We need you to look at us when our faces should be seen. We need you to stand beside us when our numbers are low. We need you to exist not as our scaffolding or our armour, but as our allies.

There has been an assumption in recent time that led us to believe a woman’s work is done. What we’ve realized is that the work of this generation of women is far from complete, and that no level of qualification or sum of money can do that work for us. That has never been made clearer than in the past 24 hours.

And despite your loving intent, you cannot do it for us either. But you can do it with us. You can and you should and you will, because the future of our humanity depends on it. So please listen, and please learn.