A few days back, an online service marketplace came out with an ad for International Men’s Day, with an interesting twist. A twist that some would say was genius, others would be less pleased.
And that’s definitely a valid argument. Others have pointed out how they feel that International Men’s Day is unnecessary, if only because most of society and large parts of history already caters to men (certain sections: straight, upper-class primarily). And yes, too many use this day as a place to shout about how men continue to be ‘oppressed’ by women, instead of talking about actual real issues that men face. Which is why I feel like International Men’s Day is something of a missed opportunity. Men are and still remain victims of patriarchy, something that is still not discussed. Men are almost 3.5 times likely, as compared to women, to commit suicide. Men who are survivors of rape are still likely to have their stories laughed off or dismissed on the grounds that ‘men can’t be raped’. As much as patriarchy tells women to act a certain way, it dismisses those very same attributes as ‘weakness’ in men. Men crying, showing grief or any kind of emotion considered ‘feminine’ are just considered ‘unmanly’, because obviously ‘boys don’t cry’. This is a toxic, never-ending cycle. It’s showing men that the only way to ‘be a man’ is to be stereotypically masculine, never show emotions and actively harm themselves in the process.
International Men’s Day would have been a great day to talk about how men don’t have to follow along the stereotypical lines laid out by patriarchy. How there are men out there who do not fit into any kind of stereotypical masculine mold, but are amazing men regardless. We need to have a space to talk about this: about men’s mental health issues, about sexuality, about suicide rates. Not a space for those who demand International Men’s Day because ‘women have it too!’, but a space for those who desperately need it and just don’t have it.