In defence of International Men’s Day

Mars symbol.

I tend to avoid writing about divisive issues on here but I’m going to today because I was saddened to see International Men’s Day being treated with such ridicule and contempt on social media this morning.

International Men’s Day should be regarded as an opportunity to discuss problems faced by men and boys. For instance, the biggest killer of males under 45 in the UK is suicide; over three quarters of those here last year were men at an average of one every two hours. A tragic waste of life which suggests that more needs to be done to address mental health in men.

How about medical issues? Despite the fantastic efforts of campaigns like Movember and Decembeard, there is still not enough done to tackle male cancers and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to explain to people what the comical facial hair is actually about. Awareness is still alarmingly low.

Then there’s the issue of dads still being treated as second-class parents. I was asked to leave hospital shortly after Dylan was born because it was in the early hours of the morning and I was regarded as a ‘visitor’. Shared parental leave isn’t feasible for many families and the alternative arrangement of paternity leave is often regretfully declined by new dads as their families can’t afford the drop in income.

These are only three examples of things that should be getting attention today – and there are a great many more too – but the majority of comments I’ve seen have ranged from mocking to dismissive to outright hatred.

The basis of most of the criticism I’ve read seems to be that, as we live in a male-dominated world, we don’t need a dedicated day in which to discuss these issues. Now I don’t deny that, sadly, we do still live in a patriarchal world. It needs to change dramatically – there’s no denying that either. But if the gripe of those who are being vitriolic towards International Men’s Day is due to a lack of equality, they’ve completely missed the point.

Look at the three examples above. Do they seem very equal to you? Do any of them seem right? No. That’s because they’re not. And while much more undoubtedly needs to be done to address the rights of women, International Men’s Day should not be subjected to the abuse that it has. Ultimately, we all want the same thing. Equality. And attacking something that has the potential to result in social change is ridiculous.

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