Yes, International Men's Day Actually Does Exist

It was International Women’s Day, and I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, a smirk tugging the corners of my lips skywards as I read empowering post after empowering post. Women were supporting women, uplifting one another, claiming our time and our voices. Then suddenly, on the horizon of my screen the words attacked me “What about International Men’s Day?” I sighed, not again. To be fair, though ignorant, this man was coming from a much more sincere place than most, so I did him a good deed, and replied with a screenshot of the date for his desired day, November 19th, International Men’s Day. He accepted his mistake with grace, but the question left me pondering once more, do men know how to Google, and maybe slightly more importantly, why DON’T men care about International Men’s Day? And why has International Women's Day been such a success?

The first conclusion I drew was that women have shared experience. I have yet to meet a woman who has not hustled at the awkward speed between jogging and walking because it was dark, and we have reason to be afraid. Most women have had a faceless voice objectify her body from a passing car. Fear, belittlement, and mistreatment, are expected in the lives women. The oppression of all women due to gender has united us to fight for the liberation of women of all identities. Essentially, women experience shared pain, and this pain heightens our empathy for the pain of oppression of women of color, gay women, trans women, disabled women, women of all intersections.

It is my observation that this has not been the experience of men. Men do not experience oppression due to their gender. On this point it's important to understand that men hold privilege, there are no countries where men are suppressed by law simply because they are men, there are no countries where men do not hold governmental positions, or are forced into child marriages, or are they left short on male role models to look up to. This does not leave them void of oppression, men can experience oppression due to factors beside gender, such as sexuality, race, disability, gender identity etc., however, men tend to align themselves with other members of the oppressed group, not men in general. Often times men divide themselves based upon what identity (sexuality, race, or otherwise) they belong to, creating an unfortunate schism between men. This is especially harmful, as unity is much needed on days like International Men's Day. This day should be one supporting the causes of all men, whether it be discrimination based on sexuality, or police brutality, because men were more united about their issues, violence would greatly decrease. This possibility of unity is further lessened as boys are often raised with encouragement to be less emotionally vulnerable. This sentiment is often reaffirmed with statements like, "Be a man" or "Man up, stop crying." This restriction of one of the most basic tenets of humanity creates a wall which separates many men from creating meaningful relationships with each other.

The lack of attention or celebration on International Men’s Day is not the fault of feminists or women, it’s on men. If men truly care about elevating their issues, from the suppression of male emotion, the stigma around sexual assault enacted on men, hyper-masculinity and violence, lack of mental health treatment, and higher suicide rates, they'll stop whining to women on our day, work to access or create the unity women have found, come together, organize, and make change. I personally think men opening up and having more emotionally meaningful conversations and relationships with one another would be a step forward, for men and women alike. 

Photo sources: 12 , 3