Do you know what special day is today? Today is International Men’s Day and if you are one of the people wondering if we really need an International Men’s Day the answer is “YES”.
Celebrating IMD means celebrating half of the globe’s population and it certainly does not reinforce white straight male privilege, neither does it diminish the importance of women’s issues to talk about the problems men all over the world are facing in 2016.
Celebrating IMD means becoming aware of men’s health issues, or remembering that not all men are having it all that easy, appreciating the positive role a male has had in your life or simply encouraging men to stay true to themselves, to lean a bit more towards their inner selves and to even express openly their joy or their anxiety.
A truly open-minded feminist could never question the importance of celebrating this day, because being a feminist does not mean one has to try and prove one gender is superior to the other, but that one should strive for equal rights for both men and women. Society does not get better and our lives do not get easier if we try to push everyone into a strict role with clearly-defined possibilities and duties. Life gets easier when men and women are encouraged to collaborate, to understand their differences and celebrate them as what makes them unique, to try and complete each other. Do we, as women, want to get what is good for us and what would be rightfully ours as well or do we want to become the next oppressors? Do we want loving and respectful men around us or do we want rivals and so-called partners who look at us in suspicion and lack of trust? Do we want our boys to put a strong, impenetrable front just to be weak and frightened on the inside?
Striving to offer women and girls a better life, better opportunities to fulfill themselves sometimes tends to put men and boys in a corner and treating them like they have it all, like there are no more problems of theirs to be solved, like they have all the privileges. And IMD is here to remind us of the higher male suicide rates, of the fact that they too can be victims of violence or sexual harassment, that they too can feel uncomfortable in their skin because of a certain physical image associated with male success, of the fact that they too can feel alienated because they are not encouraged to openly discuss their fears, their anxieties, their mental health issues.
Even if asked about this international awareness day and its importance, a lot of men might try to laugh it off, to joke about it and say they don’t really need this, as if trying to discharge themselves of such a silly pretention. Men don’t moan about their problems, men suck it up and are men about it. I actually asked myself how many men that I know have admitted to being depressed and of all guys I have ever talked to I can remember only one who told me that. So of all the men I have met, only one had serious issues.
Under these circumstances International Men’s Day seems like a good opportunity to appreciate men for their contribution to society, to celebrate them in their diversity, to try and challenge the stereotypes they are confronted with, to thank those men who made our lives better and to encourage them to stay true to themselves and not follow the false models the media might offer.
A big and special thanks to the most important man in my life, Bogdan, to Ani, Steve, Mircea, Gabriel, Jean-Pierre, my professors at uni and my colleagues at work, and all the other men who have taught me great things. Thank you!