What about the menz (day)?

Every year on International Women’s Day I have this little ritual where I defriend everyone on my Facebook and Twitter who posts WHY ISN’T THERE AN INTERNATIONAL MENS DAY!!!!

Because, you know, there is. It’s today. And if any of those dudes actually gave a fuck about issues that concern men, they would know about it. But basically no one knows about it, for whatever reason. So every year, on International Men’s Day, I have this little ritual where I post links and articles about issues that concern men.

Some of the posts I made last year:

So I make these posts and some people reply and say “There’s an International Men’s Day?” and we usually have a good conversation about it all. Today I went online and not only does everyone know that it’s International Men’s Day, but everyone is pretty upset about it. My friends list is full of people I know — people who do great gender activism that I respect — comparing it to white pride month, saying if you make Men’s Day posts you’re clearly sexist or an MRA, and all kinds of super snarky super dismissive bullshit. I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to wake up and read this over and over again, especially coming from people who usually have great analysis. I get that MRAs are shitty and there’s a knee-jerk reaction for people. But when we discuss issues that people respond emotionally to (like privilege), we ask that they take a moment to think through their knee-jerk reaction, and to look at what people are actually saying.

Here are some things that are true:

  • Some men are marginalized within our prevailing male culture.
  • A lot of men are victims of violence from within male culture.
  • A lot of men kill themselves for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of boys drop out of school for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of gay kids get the shit kicked out of them for reasons that have to do with male culture.

It’s not International Men’s Rights Day. It’s not International Male Pride Day. None of these issues are in any way adversarial towards women’s issues. This year’s focus is keeping men and boys safe. Keeping them safe by trying to address suicide, by fighting our culture’s expectations and complacence on the issue of men and violence, by addressing avoidable illnesses and death, and by examining how we perceive fatherhood and male role models. These are all positive, good things.

When men come into a feminist space and start saying WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ WHAT ABOUT THESE ISSUES, they get rightly told to scram and find their own spaces to have those conversations. So here it is. It’s International Men’s Day. If we can’t, today of all days, have a rational conversation about men’s issues without being pre-emptively snarked, what the fuck is the point in trying? Because the MRAs are just going to see it as more evidence of the Vast Feminist Conspiracy Against Men or whatever, and they’re going to double-down.

The only people that are going to get silenced are the people who actually give a shit what our feminist sisters think. I know I don’t have the will or the emotional fortitude to clean the well that the MRAs are poisoning.

11 thoughts on “What about the menz (day)?

  1. “Gender Activism” – there’s your problem. Gender hurts women AND men. If more people were willing to identify capitalist patriarchy as the root of gender-based oppressions in this culture then there would be no problem with masculinity being identified as the source of men’s oppression.

    • I’m using ‘gender activism’ as a kind of catchall for feminist/trans-activist/anti-sexist/anti-oppression because I don’t feel good about defining other people’s -isms for them. I don’t mean to imply these people are gender essentialists or anything, I was just trying to say that they’re people who spend a lot of time and do a lot of work in this space. I agree with everything you’re saying.

  2. Thanks for posting a well argued and considered piece. You’ve made me think about some issues which I had not considered…. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. Good post. A lot of feminists have written about the social construction of masculinity and how this has adverse effects for men and boys in the spheres of education, health and emotional well-being. I think it’s really counter-productive that people are so resistant to acknowledging that and it plays into the hands of outright anti-femininists.

  4. It’s time that men get a fair shake in life. Yes, women need to be empowered, but going too far to one side of that can sometimes not be a good thing because it disempowers men. It’s why I do the work I do!

    • I think men have more than a fair shake. I also think that there are issues that men need to try to make better for themselves. I don’t see this as a zero sum game, and I don’t think we’re in danger of women disempowering men.

      • I think that in the end men are responsible for their own emotional, spiritual and mental health – we all are. But I think that, from what I’ve seen of society lately, there is a very disturbing trend towards making men look inferior for the sake of women’s empowerment. I don’t see it as a zero sum game either, but where is the balance in blaming men, making them look inept, idiotic and useless as happens so often on social media, television and movies?
        Power comes from within – it isn’t to be given or taken away. When we all stand in our true power, then there will be a balance.
        I’m not blaming anyone, I’m saying that it is up to each individual to take responsibility for their own power and now is a really good time for men to be doing that because it’s something they need to reclaim.

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