Here’s to All the Men Who Help Women Reach the Finish Line

For all the downsides of social media, an upside is its ability to draw attention to otherwise overlooked stories of personal triumph and human kindness.

You may very well have already seen this video of three runners participating in the “Love Run” half marathon in Philadelphia who stopped to help an exhausted woman cross the finish line. At first, two runners try to help her continue by providing support under her arms. But as her legs turn to jelly, another runner stops to join the two men, picking up the collapsing runner and carrying her. Even more kindly, the man stops to set her down steps before the finish line so that she can have the satisfaction of completing the race on her own two feet.

There are many obvious positive messages to take from this video: With all the negative stories we hear about crime and conflict, it’s easy to forget that the overwhelming majority of people are not only decent, but also kind and willing to help someone in need. The video is a reminder to always see the bigger picture of a situation. The runners who stopped may have been shooting for personable best times, but were wise enough to recognize that those goals were less important than helping someone else, a fellow runner who had come so far and needed help to complete her journey.

Self-sacrifice, empathy, and kindness are a big part of the video’s appeal, but what also struck me was the men’s physical strength. The men who stopped to help this woman were all willing to physically carry her, along with their own weight. One was even able—after having run 13 miles himself already—to scoop her up in his arms and carry her the rest of the course.

Most discussions of men’s strength today are about how it can be a threat to women. That’s certainly true, but this video made me think about how frequently men’s strength is used for women’s protection and advancement, and how underappreciated this phenomenon is.

Discussion of the differences between men’s and women’s physical strength rarely draw much attention these days, though it manifests itself subtly in the traditional divisions of labor that remain in most households and the economy. Generally, women do more of the housework, but men are more likely to do the heavy lifting and assume whatever physical danger may be necessary. They haul out the garbage and move the furniture, get on the roof to clean the gutters and under the car to change the tire on the side of the highway.

American women mostly get to take for granted that the men around them won’t use their physical advantages against them. And even more than that, we expect that men would defend us against other men who would seek to overpower us. By custom, we teach our sons to never, ever hit a girl, and encourage them to recognize that part of being a good man is defending a woman or weaker person against an attack or physical threat.

Of course, violence against women remains a problem today. Too many men flout norms, abuse women, and take advantage of them sexually. We need to continue to work to change this. But at least in America, we have a strict legal code to hold such men who abuse women accountable. For good reason, this problem—the violent crimes that men too often commit—receives most of the public’s attention. But while of course we work to improve this situation, it’s also important not to ignore how often men’s strength is used to women’s advantage. Men are our front-line soldiers protecting women’s interests against enemies abroad; they are the majority of our police officers and firefighters, risking their lives to protect ours. They are working in our sewer systems and power plants, on bridges and trains to keep our economy functioning.

A lot of time is spent building awareness of all the ways that women’s contributions to society are overlooked. Women work without pay to raise the next generation, help sick family members, and volunteer in our schools and communities in countless unseen ways that make neighborhoods and civil society work. Given the history of discrimination against women, such awareness-raising is important. Yet men do a lot of underappreciated work too. Progressive feminists and women’s studies professors tend to paint a picture as if all men are smoking cigars in board rooms, raking in unearned pay, while women toil thanklessly. That’s a gross distortion of men’s experience. Most men are working hard for no more than adequate pay in jobs that make the economy go round, but that don’t bring much glory.

There should be a counterpart to that saying that behind every successful man is a woman. We should recognize that women’s advancement rests on a society that keeps men’s power in check, and good men are instrumental to protecting women’s rights and progress. After all, the sexes aren’t runners competing in a winner-take-all contest, but are rather partners helping each other through life’s journey.

I’m grateful to those Philadelphia runners for so perfectly reminding us all of that.

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43 responses to “Here’s to All the Men Who Help Women Reach the Finish Line

  1. Take particular note that no one, whatever their politics, wants men to all take a day off from work. We do almost all the dirty and dangerous work. Matters would go quite badly if we did.

  2. “Women work without pay to raise the next generation, ”

    On the other hand, many men who support home-maker wives afford them a life-style which usually cannot be earned by a home-maker work anywhere.

  3. Proper. In the movie Double Indemnity, a woman asks Fred MacMurray to reach some baby formula on the top shelf of a grocery store, complaining that it’s always put out of reach. He complies, as he also does in Barbara Stanwyck’s murder plot. Ho ho. 😉

  4. While I will grant that these were caring men trying to help, they didn’t help. The fact that they put her down at the finish line so she could step across on her own does nothing to change the fact that she did not complete the run. And quite possibly they prevented her from completing it by taking from her the right to rest, gather her flagging energy, and do what she set out to do–run a mini-marathon.

      1. How did they help? It’s not about crossing the finish line by whatever means. A car would serve that purpose better. As with the other guy who responded to me, use some common sense. Her goal was to run 13.1 miles. She may not have done it without their interference, but they made absolutely certain she wouldn’t do it.

      1. Nope, just the post of an experienced runner who understands why people run. Use some common sense. They didn’t help her finish, they made certain she wouldn’t.

        1. i’m not a runner but i am a competitive athlete…but sometimes, a rose is just a rose…

          imo the men didn’t negatively impact her, they helped a fellow runner in her time of (what appears to be) significant need – would a person who uses an assistance rope up the side of Everest be an equivalent situation, since they didn’t do it under their own power?

          i think the difference here is her physical inability to finish, her body seemed to fail, so they helped her – several instances of high school runners doing the same thing to other competitors, is THAT the same situation?

    1. Because uttering the words, “Thank you for your kindness, but I’m okay–just going to rest and then give it another try. Go on ahead” was impossible for the woman?

      I used to run road races, and it was common practice when you saw someone weaving or bent over to say “How ya doin’?” to see if they were just gathering themselves or needed help. Heatstroke and fatigue can be dangerous, and so you would mark their response. You would give them every reasonable chance to finish on their own, but if there was serious doubt, you accompanied them until you could get the attention of an aid worker, and if they were close to the line and looked like they were going down, you helped them.

      I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that situation, but your analysis seems uninformed by experience.

  5. You lost me at “history of discrimination against women” would you mind espousing what that phrase means in light of the brutal world that men faced during that same history? Can we not have one article recognizing men without this wild nonsense?

      1. I won’t rest until our historical brothers are remembered without the smear of feminism. It isn’t enough to correct the injustices of today and leave them behind. Historical men had the courage to get us to where we are today as a people. This retroactive shaming of the dead is dishonorable. Looking at history through a SJW lens makes one hallucinate boogymen.

    1. How would you explain women being barred from education, owning businesses, having property, banned from religious authority, getting inheritance, being in government, etc? I know that’s not every culture, but that treatment has been present in some degree in almost all cultures. Men have been considered more valuable and awarded more privileges as part of a power and control structure. You don’t see entire countries commonly practicing selective gender abortions against males, for example. That’s not revisionist history. It is a blight that has to healed for all of us to improve and move on. Ignorance, survival, greed, however you want to explain it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But I do agree with you about the constant negative focus. My husband and I were watching Schindler’s List last night, and I was remarking on how women are largely not responsible for these inhumane atrocities (though females may indoctrinated into participating), but how wonderful it was that there are men like Schindler. If we concentrate more on the Schindlers, we encourage more of that behavior, as opposed to being caught in a constant loop of victimhood.

      1. You know that pretty much everything you mentioned applies equally to men, right? The ruling class, including women in the ruling class, stepped on all those beneath them, women AND men. On top of that men faced, and still face, the physical dangers of the world. The “I’m a bigger victim” game feminists play is incredibly dishonest, as well as morally repulsive. Human history is the history of human suffering, for both sexes. That you focus on female suffering and pretend male obligation and suffering (like the obligation to work, provide, and protect) are makers of privilege and power, further highlights feminst intellectual bankruptcy.

        I, also, think it’s funny that after “feminists” insisted abortion is good for women, you list abortion as being bad for women. Ha!

        I was remarking on how women are largely not responsible for these inhumane atrocities

        Of course, you wash your hands of the complicitness of women. These atrocities could not have been committed if it weren’t for women’s wilingness, and desire, for it to happen.

        1. Lol talk about rewriting history. Women caused the holocaust. Thank you, I needed a laugh today.

          1. Why perpetuate a line if it is useless? Logical arguments didn’t get us (formerly protestant nations) into the position that we are in where men and women think they are on opposing teams. As you have said above, ignorance prevails over argument on this issue.

          2. I’m not on an opposing team. I just need a few of my teammates to stop trying to undermine me. I don’t want to go silently into the kitchen. My experiences and perception are valid. Thanks for recognizing your ignorance in this matter.

      2. “How would you explain women being barred from education, owning businesses, having property, banned from religious authority, getting inheritance, being in government, etc?”

        I don’t have to explain this because it was the same for men as well. The list you made applied to all people outside of the male 1%. Feminists lied to you. They told you to view all historic men as that 1%. Men have always loved women.

  6. Who is always the one who stops the abuse of a woman?
    A man.

    1. HAHAHAHAHA, i was thinking the same thing…who changes a tire from UNDERNEATH the car?!

          1. If your wife can lift the car, I wonder that you can make her do anything. I will try not to offend your wife in any way.

          2. *cough* not to mention she’s a redhead…so regardless of physicality, i tread lightly when necessary LOL

  7. I know a lot of people don’t like Dr. Laura, but she said something in passing one day that really struck me. A woman was whining to her about her husband and Dr. Laura said, “A happy man will die for his woman. It happens every day.” It’s true. Think about that.

  8. “… men’s strength is used for women’s protection and advancement, and how underappreciated this phenomenon is.” Phenomenon? It’s always been this way. It’s part of the deal.

    1. Patriarchy is dead.
      It’s no longer the deal. Because there was reciprocity in that deal between men and women, obligations on both sexes in terms of commitment and respect. Gone.
      I admire runners/athletic participants helping other participants, it is their choice. But third wave feminist misandry has changed the dynamic. There are no longer obligations between sexes.

      1. now that you mention it, those male runners did risk being accused of sexual harassment by the way their hand placement and picking her up. Even if she “consented” to being carried, one could argue that they took advantage of her in her current state of mind…I’m being sarcastic. I hope the world hasn’t fallen so low.

  9. Yes, I get the male’s hardwired imperative to saving and protecting women, but why would she want this particular rescue? How could she feel a sense of real accomplishment at “completing” a half-marathon in which she was literally carried like a baby a couple of football fields?

  10. Can we ever also acknowledge that there are some violent women out there? Can we ever acknowledge that there are some women that are abusers, both physically and verbally? Can we ever acknowledge that there are some women that commit infidelity? Child abuse? Sexual assault? Can we stop pretending that every woman, everywhere, throughout time is a paragon of virtue? When these things can be stated by men without said men being shouted down, silenced, accused of sexism, accused of misogyny or given the “yeah, but…”, then maybe we’ll have made some progress.

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