Why ‘International Men’s Day’ should be a celebration of feminism

International Men’s Day isn’t about re-enforcing out-dated social conventions around fragile masculinity — it should be about challenging the norms of what it is to be a ‘man’ and a ‘woman.’

By Sam Shenton | November 19th 2016 | Short blog

Today is International Men’s Day. Just like International Day of the Girl and International Women’s Day where we celebrate the achievements of women around the globe, as well as reflect and expand their efforts for equality, the international day of men should be about the same. Unlike Conservative MP Philip Davies who seems to suggest the day should be about rallying against the forces of feminism (‘feminiazism,’ as he would probably call it), the day should be dedicated to challenging the dangerous gender norms that exist across the globe, that deteriorate the quality of life many women and men experience.

Men of course are as plagued by a prospect of ‘masculinity’ as women are. 81% of suicide reported is committed by men, and indeed the act of suicide is the biggest killer of young men — not disease or accident, but avoidable mental health conditions that lead to a man taking his own life. Why? Because it isn’t manly to seek help. It isn’t manly to even admit you have a problem, to admit that you need other people in your life. Men are of course meant to be predators sexually, bread-winners and hunters economically, and ambitious in their lives. The concepts of machoism has gripped society to the point it strangles men’s confidence in seeking help, and creates a conflict between what is ‘masculine’ — what is socially acceptable for a man to do — and what is good for himself medically and even economically.

That’s where feminism comes in. Feminism isn’t about promoting women above men, and it isn’t about saying issues affecting men don’t matter unless they affect women also. It’s a revolutionary ideology, able to smash barriers and ensure equality. It’s an ideology intent on breaking open what it means to be either a man or a woman, not the evil social force that Philip Davies MP and the ilk seem to believe.

That’s why feminism is so important and must be central to our thoughts as we celebrate International Men’s Day. Feminism would break down the barriers faced by men to seek help, redefining what it is to be ‘masculine.’ Instead of hiding fears and feelings all the way to the point of mental health issues, men should be able to see the doctor without fear, and get treatment without a feel of weakness and a loss of masculinity. Of course this would impact on all acts, as what is ‘appropriate’ for men to do moves from being stern, social barriers living in a public sphere of work and being ‘tough,’ to beign more open and focussed on the ‘private sphere’ individually.

Feminist ideology would of course dictate that this would help both men and women, but the redefinition is about less than just breaking down ‘patricachy’ and much more about creating an equal society in which men and women can be seen as equals, physically, politically, in the face of the law, and socially. When ‘International Men’s Day’ is the focus, don’t take it as an opportunity to bash or discredit feminism as ‘woman-centric.’ Feminism is concerened with both men and women, and ensuring that the barriers both sexes face socially on the grounds of their gender are broken down to ensure a more healthy and socially cohesive society.