Today is International Men’s Day.
Despite having been around for a while (more on this later) this year’s IMD has been a bigger talking point than usual.
This week, York University hit the headlines after it decided to cancel its Men’s Day celebrations, following pressure from feminists who claimed that it detracted from the struggle women face every day.
This was met with a huge amount of criticism from those who said that equality for all was of utmost importance.
Here are the facts…
What is International Men’s Day?
It’s defined as a day dedicated to focusing on “men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models”.
It also offers an opportunity to “celebrate their achievements and contributions.. while highlighting the discrimination against them.”
A common response to International Women’s Day tends to be, “what about men, why don’t they get a day?”
Well, many may be surprised to find out that International Men’s Day has been around since 1999.
When's international men's day?
— Alex (@Alex_Mcgrogan) March 8, 2015
— chris (@chrisxoneill) March 8, 2015
"What about International Mens Day". 😒 go away please, if you actually gave a shit its Nov 19th. Funny how when women celebrate their…
— ✨شهيمه (@shaimmmz) March 8, 2015
Every year on 8 March, it’s the same. Turns out, a simple Google search yields the answer to this pressing query. The lack of knowledge from men that IMD even exists is telling in itself.
Of course, historically men haven’t been as oppressed as women in this country. And women still face huge inequality in other parts of the world.
However, in the name of gender equality, a day that focuses on “men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models”can’t be a hugely bad thing, can it?
So why are people opposed to it?
A lot of feminists – both male and female – have given their reasons for arguing against International Men’s Day. A prevalent view is that, March 8 aside, the other 364 days of the year are men’s days.
Ah, it's #InternationalMensDay. In the spirit of equality, I wish you 24 hours of being treated exactly the same as women are. Hurrah!
— Tara Flynn (@TaraFlynn) November 19, 2015
Why do people feel this way? Well, 45 years down the line from the introduction of Equal Pay Act, women still earn 15% less than men.
This was highlighted by Equal Pay Day earlier this month. Women are more likely to work in low-paid jobs, less likely to run businesses and less likely to make it to parliament. It goes on.
Why do people say we need it?
A petition was launched to reinstate the marking of IMD at York University. It states:
“It is important that we recognise men’s day just as much as women’s day. True feminists should be fighting for gender equality for both men and women. To cancel men’s day is simply hypocritical. Equality is not just for women and should concern both genders.”
I'm irritated by women begrudging #InternationalMensDay. Feminism is about equality. Acknowledging men's issues is equally important.
— Laura Kennedy (@LooraKennedy) November 19, 2015
#InternationalMensDay isn't about demeaning feminism. It's about dealing with struggles men face. Not the patriarchy. But actual men.
— Milly Vanilli (@whoismilly) November 19, 2015
One of the struggles International Men’s Day has been used to highlight is the increasingly high suicide rate among young men in Britain.
Statistics show that one man every two hours took his own life in the UK last year. That’s 12 per day and 4,623 over the course of a year, making up 76% of all UK suicides.
In fact, male suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 45 in this country. According to figures from the ONS, suicide rates amongst men have been rising since 2007.
— Rupert Moon (@RupertMoon) November 19, 2015
Disregarding international mens day is disregarding the 12 men every day who commit suicide in the UK
— Tom (@world3ater) November 19, 2015
Old-fashioned macho-ism often prevents young men from opening up about their feelings.
If International Men’s Day is in support of helping young men talk about mental health, that seems like an important cause which shouldn’t be disregarded.
Why are MPS debating it?
Conservative MP Philip Davies has secured a debate at The House of Commons saying that Parliament never gets the chance to debate men’s issues such as the increase in male suicides, lower male life expectancy, male victims of domestic violence, low educational achievement among certain young men and the treatment of men in child custody cases.
On the other hand, Labour MP Jess Phillips has received an online backlash, including several rape threats, after dismissing the idea of debating male equality in Parliament – saying that every day is International Men’s Day.
She has said that this reaction from ‘male activists’ only goes to prove her point.
What do you think?
Main image: Topical Press Agency / Stringer via Getty