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:
- Was what Jenny McCarthy did to Justin Bieber sexual assault? A 40-year-old model gropes an 18-year-old signer on stage, and says they “couldn’t help it”, because they were “just so delicious”. It wouldn’t be laughed off if it was a 40-year-old man grabbing Birdy’s ass.
- Is the US the only country where more men are raped than women? RAINN says there are 213,000 victims of sexual assault in the US every year, most of which are women and girls. The DOJ says there are 216,000 victims of prison rape every year, most of which are men and boys.
- Teenage Boys, Worried About Body Image, Take Health Risks. More and more high school boys are taking steroids and growth hormones because they want to get as ripped as the men in fitness mags and on TV.
- Officers and Gary Numan release PETALS. A video filmed to help raise awareness for a suicide prevention charity. Suicide rates are highly gendered, nearly four times as many men kill themselves as women.
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.