On International Women’s Day there is always a barrage of messages from men, usually on Twitter, asking when we were finally going to recognise and appreciate the struggles of men. The answer, of course, is 19th November. Today is officially International Men’s Day, and it’s not come without it’s controversies. Admittedly, as a whole, the male sex are treated with more privilege than the average woman. They are paid more, less likely to be in lower paid jobs, there are more male CEO’s than there are women, and more men in Parliament. They also don’t suffer from workplace sexism, nor everyday sexism, they are not catcalled nor are they sacked from television because they have grey hair. There are more men on TV show panels, they don’t have their outfits, or their bodies, picked apart by the press whenever they step outside, nor are they asked the same sexist questions their female counterparts have to endure. So, overall, men do have it better, but what about the men that don’t?
The aim of International Men’s Day is to bring to light the struggles men face every day that are often overlooked by society. Most of the time it’s because it’s not ‘manly’ to talk about it, or they are often told to ‘be a man about it’ and to ‘man up’ and this is incredibly damaging. Suicide is the biggest killer amongst young men in the UK, so much so that the government have called it a national health emergency. 13 men a day kill themselves, that’s nearly 5,000 a year. According to reports, this is down to a “crisis of masculinity” in which men fail to seek help even when something terrible happens. International Men’s Day this year is hoping to help break the societal barriers that prevent men from getting the help they need, to stop these tragedies from happening. It’s highlighting the fact that men are suffering in silence because they don’t feel like they can ask for help without compromising their masculinity, and International Men’s Day aims to stop men feeling like this. Another important aspect of International Men’s Day is to bring to light the seriousness of domestic violence against men. When discussing domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, we tend to think only of women being the victims, and this is something we have to stop doing. Men do suffer from domestic violence, they also suffer from sexual assault and rape and more should be done to prevent this.
important aspect of International Men’s Day is to bring to light the seriousness of domestic violence against men. When discussing domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, we tend to think only of women being the victims,
We, as a society, overlook male domestic abuse victims because we don’t think it happens as much as it does. There is also a chance that many men don’t want to admit that they were “beaten up by a girl” or that they received unwanted sexual attention from a woman. The BBC reported yesterday that in the last three years, police have received 19, 459 calls from men suffering domestic abuse, but they are sure that the number of men suffering is much higher but are not reporting it. We need to start breaking the barriers that stop men from reporting such horrific abuse, and if we have to do that through International Men’s Day, then so be it. The day is dedicated to bringing to light many of the issues men face but go unreported, due to the heightened sense of masculinity men face. This hyper-masculinity is extremely damaging, and evidence is showing that men are suffering in more ways than we can imagine and it’s time we put a stop to this. That’s what International Men’s Day is about.
So, who isn’t it about? It’s not about the men’s rights activists who claim feminism oppresses them. Nor is it about the men who claim equality is “being able to hit women”. It’s not about the CEO’s, nor the privileged white men running our country. Not the men who claim they are oppressed but do nothing for men of colour, male members of the LBGTQA+ community, or males suffering from mental illness and abuse. Not for the men who think it’s okay to villainise women for not going out with them (the friend zone doesn’t exist, get over yourself), nor the men who abuse women online for speaking out about gender equality. This day isn’t for the men who threaten to rape, or to assault, or send abusive messages to women just for speaking out about the sexism they have faced in the past. It isn’t for the rapists, the abusers, the catcallers. It’s for men who are truly struggling, who are being oppressed by the system you helped build and if you stand for equality, then you will stand with the men who really do need International Men’s Day.
International Men’s Day is about supporting those men who are suffering, because society is failing them. Men are affected by just as much as we are, heartbreak, death of a loved one, unemployment, separation from his children, and International Men’s Day is about acknowledging that.