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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

A Letter to the Platonic Gentlemen

The other day I sat and had a heart-to-heart with someone I trust. We talked about life, love, mistakes, laughs, and then it became quiet. When our eyes met, our bodies went still, and we remained in silence. We just sat there, staring at one another, looking for the crack in the other’s mirror. It’s not as intimate or romantic as it may seem because in truth… It was a staring contest.

In full transparency, I was with an old friend. We were getting coffee to catch up and wound up having a staring contest to see who would buy. When we were younger, we were a bit competitive, and as you can probably guess that hasn’t changed very much. Seeing him felt like the highlight of my day until he confided in me that this meeting was the highlight of his year. Again, not romantic, more in solace. He had recently watched a series about a group of men who had abused their power and those around them. He told me that after seeing that kind of ugliness he was worried how others must see him. I reassured him that those guys do not represent him, and if the world could see him beyond the stereotypes and the tropes, they would know he was a good guy.

This small conversation had me thinking of the men in our lives and how we, as a society, might be letting the prejudices go too far. I am not saying let men continue to get away with murder, but maybe start recognizing the behavior we want to see and then reinforce it. Truth be told, I never appreciated a platonic male-female relationship until I had one.

We met through other friends and formed a mixed group together; it felt easy to talk and laugh. We were allowed to be uniquely ourselves because none of us were asking for anything more than that. All of the guys in the group were nice and never had any kind of agenda; I knew that after the first time I was alone with one of them. We would be respectful of each other’s space, we’d talk about life and tell stories. Eventually, we became close in a way that I trusted them, and for once I could breathe. I was able to lean on them without fear of them trying to make a pass at me and they would talk to me in a way that it seemed like they didn’t see my gender as a reason to be put off. It wasn’t as if they didn’t acknowledge my gender, but it wasn’t an excuse to exclude me either.

One of my guy friends actually regarded women through his treatment stating, “I take into account the privilege I have as a male. I have the luxury of walking home in the middle of the night without fear of something bad happening. I can be paid what I am actually worth at whatever job I want. Wherever I go I can vote! So yeah I hold open doors for women, I let them go first, I pay, I hold your bag when it’s too heavy, I stand on the outside of the sidewalk and I care about your well-being! None of these things I do for sex, I do them because your gender earned them. You deserve to be respected because of the pain it takes to be fertile [periods] and then to actually give birth, from the abuse you endure from my gender and to the pedestal we forced you onto! I treat you the way I do because you (as the female gender) earned the right!”

He’s a good guy and in a way, one of the few that restored my faith that a man can be kind and true. Oftentimes it’s easy to acknowledge the majority who have done wrong that we cast off those who have done right. So to him, to all of the men who aren’t just allies but are our friends, thank you. Thank you for the shoulder to cry on, the ear to listen, and the door you hold open. Most importantly thank you for making me feel safe.

Devin is a brand-new member of Her Campus and will be finishing her bachelor's in English literature in the spring of 2024. She hopes to begin her Master's in Library and Information Science next fall. She is an aspiring Librarian and when she's not musing about life; Devin finds comfort in doing personal Bible studies and making gifts for her family and friends.