To the men who love “Little Women”:

Hello! You are not alone. There are many of you, and you have all been emailing me to confess, as if it were a shameful secret, your deep affection for a 150-year-old story about four girls growing up in Civil War-era Massachusetts, making currant jam and accidentally burning their dresses in the fireplace.

“There is no one around me (being a man and all) to discuss Little Women films with,” wrote one such Little Women Man. He was responding to a stunty article I’d written — a colleague and I had marathoned through all previous cinematic versions in anticipation of a new one that opened last week. This gentleman had done the same thing, and now he had thoughts. “None of these efforts, in my opinion, ever really does enough to round Beth out as an equal among the four sisters,” he wrote, campaigning for a better Beth.

“I’m no longer young, but I had a wife who loved me and may have out-Marmee’d Marmee,” wrote another Little Women Man, referring to the March girls’ sainted mother. “Plus I still have three amazing daughters.”

The Little Women Men, some of them, were first introduced to the story via their daughters. They read this book in the context of obligatory bedtime routines, and then discovered that they actually really loved it, especially “the part where Jo sells her hair to help buy the train ticket” and “the fact that none of the characters suck,” as two Little Women Men recently shared with me at the gym.

The Little Women Men dearly wish that someone would invite them to see the new Greta Gerwig remake, which has excellent reviews. The Little Women Men feel slightly nervous about going to see the movie without a female chaperone, for the same reason that some men have told me they are nervous about attending a yoga class solo, or assisting a lost toddler in the supermarket: because our society still — still! — gets confused by men displaying traits of nurturing or sentimentality, and these kindly men don’t want to creep anyone out.

“I spent an hour disguising myself so no one I knew could see me going into Little Women alone,” tweeted one man, who was probably (hopefully?) exaggerating.

“I hope movie theater employees don’t judge people for coming to the theater alone. . . . I have to go see Little Women,” wrote another.

Won’t someone take these men to the movies? For the love of Marmee, won’t someone please organize a Meetup so these men can watch Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson go to the ball and lose their gloves? Help them!

Help those who are not as brave as this moviegoer:

“Picture this: a gay, alone in the cinema, sobbing softly and silently throughout the second half of Little Women,” tweeted a Little Women Man who had managed to overcome any trepidation. “It’s me, I am the gay.”

Even before the new movie came out, fans and critics were fretting about men and “Little Women.” How they didn’t get it. How they wouldn’t see it. How men would sit through eleventy billion plotlines in which an aging Liam Neeson head-butts terrorists, but not a single plotline exploring whether Aunt March was correct to take Amy to Europe instead of Jo. “ ‘Little Women’ has a Little Man problem,” said a Vanity Fair story about how advance screenings were mostly made up of ladies.

But I am convinced that the screenings reflected not merely a man problem, but also a society problem: Men would see “Little Women” if they were given permission to go see “Little Women.” Men need to be reassured, again and again, that there are all kinds of ways to be a man, and one kind involves watching Amy and Jo tearfully make up after Amy nearly drowns in the ice skating pond.

Could you be a Little Women Man and not even know it? I wish you would find out. Open yourself to the idea that messages of devotion, kindness and caring are not the purview of women alone. See “Little Women.” Expand society’s narrow ideas about what constitutes a fulfilling emotional experience for men, one ticket at a time.

Luckily, there are men leading this charge. Barack Obama included “Little Women” in his list of his favorite movies of 2019. Ryan Reynolds — Van Wilder himself! — announced on Twitter, “Just saw @LittleWomen, which I’ll probably see a dozen times. It’s completely stunning and doctors should prescribe it. Go go go.”

Little Women Men, you need to go. You can do it, guys. You can politely glom onto your wives’ wine club viewings, or you can go alone, or, better yet, you can casually suggest that you and your crew grab a few beers, and then go watch the March family darn some socks in their sitting room.

Judging by the emails in my inbox, you really, really need this movie.

Monica Hesse is a columnist writing about gender and its impact on society. For more visit

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