Eleanor Doward

“But what about International MEN’S Day?”

“Why is there no international men’s day?” is a question I have been asked five times in the week running up to International Women’s Day. That’s five different men who see a day celebrating the cultural, social, political and economic achievements of women as nothing more than a dent to their fragile egos, as a spoilt toddler might scream “but where is MY present?” on his sister’s birthday.

I have several answers. My first go-to is to point out that there actually is an International Men’s Day. It’s on November 19th. But generally, those that ask why there is no International Men’s Day when you so much as casually mention IWD do not seem to care in any real or proactive way about issues affecting men (high suicide rates among young men, toxic masculinity etc.); they are simply using the question as a quick, *fun* way to derail a discussion of women.

There are real and significant issues affecting men. But men’s rights activists are nothing, because they refuse to recognise how a patriarchal society works. I’m talking about the MRAs that call themselves ‘meninists’ or frequent Return of Kings, and seemingly exist to spew their hatred and contempt towards women on whatever platform they can. They’ll discuss issues that affect men insofar as it allows them to let off misogynist steam by blaming said issues on women/feminists. So next up, I like to suggest that every day is International Men’s Day. Every single normal day that goes by, cis, het, white men get to experience life with the privileges women are not afforded. I don’t have the space to go into each and every one of these privileges, so I will just say that a man probably would not receive rape threats if he wrote this article instead. Power, privilege, and better pay also come to mind.

Similarly, there are those that ask “why is there no white history month?”, “why is there no straight pride?” And what exactly do you have to be proud of? The fact that you haven’t had to deal with systematic oppression? What would your protest banners say, ‘we’ve got nothing to complain about but we made this banner anyway’? Are you really so incapable of seeing the bigger picture? Every month is white history month and heterosexuality is the cultural norm. Back in history lessons at school, the vast majority of the figures we talked about who shaped and conquered countries, fought wars, wrote laws and made discoveries were white, cis, het men. I hadn’t heard of half of my feminist heroines when I was 15.

Whining about a perceived injustice blinds you to the bigger picture. I might have asked those that questioned me why they think we need an International Women’s Day; can they think of any reasons why that would be important. But I’m tired of explaining, and it isn’t my job to educate those who have a wealth of resources available to them. Not only that, but they generally seem to listen to reload rather than listen to actually, you know, listen. No matter how I phrase it, no matter what tone I use, I am always being too “aggressive”, simply by posing a question they don’t want to consider the answer to. That said, there are many men who support women, who acknowledge women’s experiences of oppression and still care about men’s issues in a positive rather than hateful way. These men will be supporting, rather than derailing discussions about, International Women’s Day. So on the 8th of March, it would be great if everyone were to show their support and make an effort to recognise the ONE DAY that celebrates the achievements of women – all women; women of colour, transwomen, LGBTQ women – whilst recognising how far there is to go before we achieve gender equality, because, to be honest guys, the other 364 days a year are mostly for you.

4 thoughts on ““But what about International MEN’S Day?”

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’m one of many men (I believe) who’s been confused about this whole thing for a while honestly.

    I know you said you don’t want to and it isn’t your job to educate – but I’d be really interested in the reasons you feel women are oppressed in todays society. I can definitely think of a few myself but I’d be interested in what the biggest ones for females are – I think defining that would help shift things along further in the right direction. I think there’s too much talk of the word ‘feminism’, or and less talk about the actual issues oppressing women, and that is a problem.

    Honestly I dislike the words feminism & ‘menism’ – so much negative connotation revolves around these that I feel like both of those words have wrongly become toxic, have much misguided meaning, and actually disable people from discussing the real issues behind the words.

    One thing I find a little hard to grasp was the part where you said men have 364 days of the year to themselves. Whilst I understand as a women writer you would be angry that women are more oppressed than men – I don’t think that’s a fair statement. As you mention, men have their challenges too and to ascertain that women only get 24 hours of a year to be themselves sounds a touch far… I don’t know. Let me know what you think or if I got the wrong end of the stick!

    Much love to all women on their journey to equality.

  2. Yes! Brilliant article. Three men (and one woman) asked the question about international MENs day. Not just conversationally, they blurt it out in the open plan office so everyone can see how charmingly subversive they are. I love how quickly some of them shut up and sit back down when you tell them it’s in November. You think if they really cared they’d know that – they don’t, they just think they’re undermining IWD.

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