Why we don't need an International Men's Day

World

19 Nov 2018

#InternationalMen'sDay: Do we really need it? Answering the million-dollar question

Fellow brothers, November 19 is celebrated as International Men's Day or IMD.

Started in 1992, it seeks to address issues pertinent to men and boys.

However, calls for an IMD started around the 1960s to ensure men were celebrated, just as 'International Women's Day' on March 8 is dedicated to celebrating women.

But, do we really need a separate day for celebrating men? We decode.

Coming from a place of criticality

Lend me your ears, my brothers, for as a man I have made my fair share of mistakes and reaped the privilege of being a male member of the society. However, we must exercise our criticality to dismantle this privilege instead of celebrating it.

Definition

How do we define a man in our society?

Before we get off on the wrong foot, IMD should be celebrated. However, how and what we celebrate makes a difference.

Firstly, we should question how we define men. What socio-behavioral attributes are expected to fulfill our definition of 'man'?

This is intrinsically tied to patriarchal expectations and media portrayal, which sets a list of physical and emotional criteria that must be adhered to.

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Stereotyping men

What are common male stereotypes and what do they promote?

Some common male stereotypes from popular culture over ages include 'strong, silent type' and 'the loner' which encourages men to bottle up emotions.

The 'jock' image glorifies unrealistic physicality and arrogant, dismissive behavior, while the 'romantic stalker' negates the idea of consent, instead, promoting persistence as the way to a woman's heart.

Portraying these tropes as attractive to women leads to toxic masculinity.

What is toxic masculinity?

In short, toxic masculinity leads to a situation where there is a marked lack of empathy and men are encouraged to believe that this lack is characteristic of manliness. Furthermore, displays of physical prowess are portrayed as a benchmark for being a man.

MRA

The association of Men's Rights Activism

Men's Rights Activists or MRA make IMD more problematic due to the cultural embracing of toxic masculinity.

A group started with the intention to highlight pertinent problems like male suicide rates and mental health issues, devolved to glorification of the same toxic masculinity that underlies issues plaguing men.

Unsurprisingly, when feminists pointed this out, men responded with scorn and threats of sexual violence.

The psychoanalytic root of the problem

Psychoanalytically speaking, men rush to affirm the fact that they are men before anybody can take the opportunity to deny this. In the being's rush to affirm itself we are driven to embrace the culturally accepted definition of a man, which sadly champions toxic masculinity.

Politics of celebration

Do we need to celebrate those in power?

Unlike IMD, IWD has been celebrated across ages with different themes, attempting to eradicate social injustice against women.

In 1999 it was 'World Free of Violence against Women', in 2010 'Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All' and 'Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality' in 2016.

Men, already in positions of power, don't need a day to champion their cause.

Acknowledging good work being done

Notably, campaigns like Movember are doing amazing work by dedicating an entire month to men's mental and physical health, without the connotations of allocating a separate day to champion men as a tit-for-tat response to the celebration of International Women's Day.

Feminism

Sharing the fruits of feminism

Before men bristle at the word 'feminism' wrongly believing the movement tries to assert women's superiority, understand that feminism is fighting against patriarchy and toxic masculinity it promotes.

Although feminism's primary goal is ensuring women's safety, it tackles the same issues causing male suicides and mental health problems.

Since the essence of celebrating IMD aligns with the ethos of feminism, shouldn't we join hands?

Men's day

A celebration of alliance and inclusiveness

To conclude, don't let this day be reduced to reactionary celebrations of masculinity. Question the definition of 'man', and address real issues men face.

Celebrate inclusiveness of trans men, men of color, disabled, queer, feminine, mentally ill, elderly, poor, vulnerable men, and male survivors of sexual assault.

Together, let us dismantle the problematic social definition of 'man' and give men truly something to celebrate.

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