“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.