I don't normally 'do' Valentines Day. It just seems to me a bit overblown, commercialised, what have you - although I do really love hearing the delight in other people's voices when they get flowers or chocolates or a beautiful poem or just an 'hey, I love you. Thanks for being rad' message from a friend or a lover. But this year I'm writing this post: in honour of the awesomely amazing and feministy men I know. Happy Valentines.
Firstly to my dad. Being the only man in a household of girls, dad didn't really have much of a choice but to be a bit of a feminist. But dad, thanks for being one. Thanks for not treating me like a delicate petal because I was a girl. Thanks for teaching me how to play rugby in the backyard. Thanks for always telling me I could do anything in the world, and for not being too disappointed when what I wanted to do wasn't what you'd hoped for me. Thanks for being so proud of my sister and I - for who we are and not what we've achieved - and for telling us so all the time. Thanks for taking on my passion for reproductive rights and not only supporting me, but speaking out on it too (this can't be easy on some audiences either - his side of the fam comes from western Queensland and can't understand why I'm not married with children. I am 30, after all). Just thanks.
Then to my lover, who is not only an incredibly supportive partner but also a great father to his 11-year-old daughter - who is growing up with such a great show of gender equality around her that she couldn't believe there was actually a word to describe what feminism is. 'Duh' would be, I'm pretty sure, a direct quote of her response after my explanation. So thank you, beautiful man, for her and for me. Thanks for your support, always. Thanks for listening (oh, the listening. He is always listening), and for debating with me. Thanks for loving me for who I am, not what I look like, and for helping me to do that too. Thanks for being what is apparently a rare gem - a man who shares the housework. Thanks for challenging me, and for helping me problem-solve. And thanks for being a diehard romantic at the same time as giving me space. Happy Valentines.
Thanks also my feministy man friends. You all rock, especially at the end of a long day when I've been surrounded by stories of women who've really been let down by the men in their lives. It's lovely to think about you all and how lucky we women are who know you. Thanks for liking my feminist Facebook rants, and for 'getting' them too. Thanks for not being oglers or leerers or yelling-out-the-car-window-at-hot-babez people, and for being as in favour of gender equality as anyone I know. Thanks for not thinking feminism is a big scary thing. Thanks for treating your womenfolk with such love and respect, and for thinking dudes who don't do the same are scum. Happy Valentines.
Special mention to the man friend who actually came up with the name for Settle Petal. It was inadvertent, granted, and was said in jest to bait me (see point three of my feminist new years' resolutions). He jokes around about being a misogynist jerk but is an incredibly decent human being who fits completely into every category in the paragraph above, and was pretty chuffed on the name choice for the site - which he does sometimes refer to as his website, completely missing the irony in that. So thanks, friend.
Sometimes it's hard when you're reading news online or listening to Andrew 'the most oppressed white man in Australia' Bolt or seeing candidates running for political office who think drunk women are responsible for their own rapes, to remember that there are a hell of a lot of good men out there too. But there are! There really are - and not just good men, but amazing men, men who are as fully supportive of feminism as women in deeds as well as words. And I think it's important to recognise them. Yay for feminist men! So this is my Valentine to them. Thanks guys.