What about International Men’s Day?

womans day

Today is International Women’s Day, a day of solidarity and respect. A day of celebration and hope. A day of men asking why there isn’t an International Men’s Day.

DON’T PANIC. Stop swearing and mentally composing an ALL CAPS REALLY REALLY ANGRY TWEET. Don’t even think about sounding that klaxon. For every mention of women’s days, all female shortlists and women’s officers, there will be the inevitable male questioner asking “but what about all us poor hard-done-by men?” Usually they’re met with disdain by women and other men alike, but because I’m a feminist, and I believe in equality, I’m going to really consider that question in today’s blog. I’m going to take it very very seriously indeed, because if the dictionary describes “equal” as “being the same value”, then men aren’t equal to women, and maybe it’s time to do something about that.

We could start by sending out guerilla groups of women who could grind up against men in nightclubs, grope their bums and whisper dirty things in their ears. What the hell, let’s not stop at nightclubs – let’s send them to bus stops and shops and building sites, and when they’re not within touching distance they can just wolfwhistle instead and shout things like “get your penis out for the girls”. When their male targets protest, there are a few options; follow them home maybe? Get aggressive? Or we could just resort to the age-old favourite and decide that they’re frigid and gay. Why else would they turn down our advances? We’d just be complimenting them after all.

We could get a bit more hardcore than this; currently a new woman reports an incidence of domestic violence every minute, so it’s vital to up the number of male victims in the name of equality. We could have so many that shelters and crisis centres can’t support them all, and then we could make 90% of policy-makers females who just don’t understand men’s issues, and they could put these shelters at such a low priority that their funding might be cut and the male victims left homeless and scared. I think at this point it would be important to create a culture in which we’re not sympathetic to

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these men but blame them for their fate; they must have asked for it, or nagged too much, or not made a sandwich when asked. While we’re on it, best to start some kind of campaign that tells men not to take their faces for a walk so as not to provoke those with an inescapable urge to punch them – after all, there’s currently no other crime but rape where victims are blamed for their fate. Better even that up since we’re striving for equality.

Of course, a pay cut would be necessary too. Probably about 25% – those angels asking for an International Men’s Day could kickstart the campaign, and we could use the money saved to fund research into male pregnancy so that they too can be turned down for a job or dismissed from their position because of the possibility of starting a family. Men currently make up 78% of MPs, 85% of high court judges and 95% of newspaper editors despite making up 49% of the world’s population, so fairness in the workplace is a big task. Jobs will be lost. Of course, when things get more equal we’ll have to start questioning how all these men made it there in the first place – there can’t possibly be that many competent men out of 31,320,000. So we’ll have to assume that they slept with the boss or had a particularly nice body, and then we’ll need to make it our business to take them down a peg or two by commenting on this all the time.

In the interests of equality, let’s have a giant picture of a penis on Page 3 of The Sun. It would only alienate and objectify half their readers, after all. We could have men wearing PVC on the front of magazines, sucking their fingers and pouting. We could have loads of stories down the side of the Daily Mail website about how Ryan Gosling went out wearing no make-up, and how Jay-Z’s looking fat. We could have male politicians described as “hunky” and “trendy”. We could even have a ‘male’ section on the website. It could cover things like engines and meat and dirt. You know, all that stuff that men’s lives revolve around.

We’ll have to take away control of their own bodies. In countries where genital mutilation takes place, we’ll make sure to hack their privates off and sew them back up with substandard medical equipment. We’ll

make sure they know it’s not acceptable to go outside without having ripped all the hair out of any visible skin – except that on their heads of course, which must always look the perfect balance of glossy and voluminous. We’ll put them in shoes they can’t walk in and we’ll give them push-up boxers to ehance their crotches since everyone will be looking at them all the time. And since they’re so keen on equality, we’ll subject them to intimidating and harmful tests, stigma and disapproval when they want to get an operation to remove a foreign body that they don’t want and that could ruin their life and

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damage their mental health and well-being. Kind of like an abortion, then.

The inequality between men and women is huge. Changes will have to be made at every level and in every sector, but if we’re committed to equality I’m sure we’ll manage it. Thank god for those enlightened men who brought this to my attention in the first place with their talk of men’s officers and male empowerment. Hundreds of years of campaigning for women’s rights is all very well, but of course it’s taken a man to figure out what’s really going on here. They’ve suffered for too long with all that excess money, bodily autonomy and policy-making power. It’s time to redress the balance. It’s time for equality.


    • Yup, I know that International Men’s Day does exist, and I admire all their aims and objectives which are extremely important and valid. This blog, though, is mostly meant to be in answer to people who will always bring arguments about women’s day, women’s officers etc back to the idea that these things are inherently sexist themselves. To do that is to ignore the fact that there’s a hugely uneven balance in society, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.

  • Great article, but men do already get called gay for rejecting advances
    Effective way to make people understand inequality though~

    • Yes, absolutely! And of course that’s not acceptable either. But I do think that women are disproportionately affected by ‘street harassment’ because of a power balance which lets people feel like they have a claim over a woman’s body – and that’s equally problematic for men and women. I can’t speak for men though, or for the gay community, so obviously I’m not claiming this is cold hard fact!

  • Thanks for the generalisation that all men are sexist. Surely this kind of negative gender stereotyping can only do harm to the causes of everyone who is working for equality throughout society. Individuals should never be discriminated against because of their gender or sex, and this includes men.

    • I don’t think I suggested at any point that all men were sexist, sorry if it sounded like that! A lot of men have shared this blog and commended me for it, and I’m very grateful to anyone who does their bit to further equality. I do think that people who ask questions like ‘why isn’t there an international men’s day’ generally ARE sexist, or at the very least entirely missing the point, and this was solely meant to be targetted at them. I have a huge amount of time for male feminists and equality of all kinds, including in those areas were men are disadvantaged.

  • I have to admit I feel like I’m maybe missing the point, wouldn’t be more equal to accept that there are gender imbalances for both sex’s while reiterating that there are some that are more pressing than others?
    Internet trolls are going to be internet trolls but using them as an way to dismiss other inequalities seems wrong. I’m not saying that men get a bad deal (and history would be against me if I did) but dismissing every claim of inequality by saying that another group is worse off is very dangerous indeed. This type of argument leads to all sorts of abuses, there are females all over the globe who are in need of greater help than those of us lucky enough to be in the western world and by bringing in an argument that centres around eliminating voices because another group suffers more inequality your opening yourself up to this type of argument.
    It would be all to easy for the current government to role back the advances in equality that women have attained in the last 100 years in the name of economic crisis. But wouldn’t be more galling to find them using the same argument back… that there are people suffering greater inequality so yours don’t matter….

    • I think you’re perhaps misinterpreting some of the satire here. If read the other way round, this is an entirely factual account of how women are treated in society. I really wasn’t trying to make any point beyond that. At no point do I discuss inequalities facing men because that’s not what the piece is about – not because I’m denying they exist at all.

      • I thought the implication of such lines as ‘In
        countries where genital mutilation takes place, we’ll make sure to hack
        their privates off and sew them back up with substandard medical
        equipment.’ was that men do not suffer anything comparable? If that wasn’t your intent, I’m sorry for my rather long-winded comment below!

        • It was my intent, although I totally understand that that particular point is open to debate – I can see the problems with circumcision etc, but I’m afraid I do see FGM as slightly different in that it is often used solely as a patriarchal tool for the control of women’s bodies – the sole purpose is ensuring they don’t receive any pleasure from sex, don’t cheat on their husbands and that they are ‘real, pure’ women. I don’t think male circumcision has the same implications behind it, at least not on the same scale, although I’m the first to admit that I’m not the oracle on circumcision so feel free to correct me! There are also really complex issues of cross-culture here where we have to question whether it’s okay for us on our Western pedestals to impose our opinions on others from different cultures. But that’s a debate for another day!

      • I agree Eve this is a perfectly valid account of how women are treated everyday but I gathered that the reason you wrote the article was to highlight the inequalities suffered by women compared to men and subsequently why a woman’s day is important (which it is). However the article makes it appear as though you are subjugating some inequalities because others are worse and this is what I was writing about. Every inequality should be fought but just because some are greater than others does not mean that they should be dismissed even if you believe the people behind them are sexist

        Also on the above

        I hope you find it enlightening that male genital mutilation has the same effects on sexual enjoyment (as many studies more reputable than the link I have attached show)

        • Cool, happy to take on board info about that as, like I said, I never claimed to know anything about it! I’m quite offended by the suggestion that I would subjugate some inequalities in favour of others, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything in the article that suggests that. As is clear, it’s in response to people who inadvertently suggest that women have achieved full equality by asking things like “why is there no international men’s day”. My aim was to highlight how it certainly isn’t the case that women are now equal to men, and I think I’ve succeeded in that. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I’m completely committed to fighting the oppression of many different groups for many different reasons.

          • Oops sorry I guess my last comment came off stronger than I thought :/
            I see your point in this article and I know I haven’t conveyed mine as well so for this I’ll call it a day. Although I must say I think your articles are very thought provoking
            Oh and lastly I believe the point in the link about face cream has been disproved :/

  • Though this article raises some obviously disturbing issues, I think it’s problematic to view gender equality as a kind of see-saw, i.e. men can’t have this because look at all the problems women have, or indeed by viewing men as people who ‘just simply don’t understand’ and need to be further reminded of all the bad things they do. It is possible for BOTH men and women to be proud of their identity.

    I also think this article reflects the worsening perception of the male identity. As a gender, we are increasingly all painted as white, wife-beaters, rapists (did you know that 1 in 6 men suffer rape too? and how men who are coerced into sex often don’t even think they’ve been raped? To make it an exclusively feminist issue will only further perpetuate the stigma of male rape) and generally just a nasty bunch. You are also perpetuating the mistaken notion that only men are capable of domestic violence, that men do not suffer genital mutilation (Judeo-Christian circumcision, consent, and potential complications is a little discussed topic) and so forth. I really am fed up of male vilification, and how somehow when men raise these issues, they’re trying to attack feminism.

    It’s disheartening at my university to see talks titled ‘Can men be feminists?’ like we’re all a bunch of oppressors who simply cannot comprehend female issues. We’re repeatedly told to suck up all the criticism because, of course, we’ve all benefited from patriarchy because we’re all rich and white. We’re told to ‘be a man’ – whatever that means.

    (as an aside, it’s very important to understand that patriarchy works along very specific lines: an oxbridge educated elite, white, a certain cutthroat/testosterone-fuelled bravado. To generalise that all men benefit from patriarchy is incorrect.)

    Also I’m not so certain about your points about the Daily Mail or The Sun. Sex sells, they don’t care what is fair or equal… and there are plenty of men being objectified too (naturally not to the same extent) in magazines like Take a Break which is plastered with their abs and biceps (I am of course an avid reader!) What is more disgusting is that LADbible website, there is some seriously worrying content on there.

    Anyway, I’m slightly fed up of gender politics being a shouting match of who has it worse: both genders have very pressing issues, and the sooner that is accepted, the sooner we can get around to fixing them. Cooperation is the watchword of the day.

    I say all this without being in favour of an International Men’s Day, and firmly supportive of International Women’s Day.

    • I definitely appreciate any comments on this but without being patronising I think perhaps some of my satire is being misinterpreted. If read the other way round, the article is literally just a factual account of the inequalities women face in today’s society. I’m not denying that men don’t face different inequalities, or that I don’t think they should be solved too, but that’s not relevant to the article. For the record, I am 100% in favour of male feminists. My boyfriend and stepdad are some of the greatest feminists I know, and I fully agree that feminism is needed by both genders because stereotypes and sexism are damaging to both genders. This was actually the theme for my most recent show, which you can listen to here! http://nanu-nanu.com/the-f-word-men-and-feminism-podcast/

      Hope that clears up what I was trying to get at a bit – I really wouldn’t like to be misinterpreted as someone who hates men or doesn’t appreciate their help in the feminist fight etc!

      • No need to worry about sounding patronising, since I think I did slightly misinterpret your satire! I was under the impression that the point was ‘men don’t understand female problems since they have no experience of it’ but it seems I am mistaken. I get how frustrating it must be when people try to deflect the conversation away from what you are arguing in the moment. Often, you feel they deflect the conversation because they’re opposed to what you’re saying in the first place.

        I also take you other point about FGM, and you’re right that it’s a rather complex cross-cultural issue. While I’m not personally against male circumcision, I do think it slightly worrying that it’s so accepted because of religious reasons when it’s a pretty hefty change to someone’s anatomy.

        Anyway, it was a nice read, apologies for slightly misinterpreting your point.

        • Thanks! Also I realised I should have used “any” genders rather than “both” – unconsciously reinforcing the very gender binary I’m arguing against right there! Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for your comments :)

  • The satire and humour with which you address some very serious issues about gender equality is commedible and really helps to highlight the ludicracy of our world. The comments below show a basic misunderstanding for your intent and for the extent of gender inequality today.

    • Thank you so much :)

  • Just want to say that I think that this is a brilliant blog. I don’t think it generalises all men as being sexist, merely states what does happen in the real world. Of course international men’s day is a good thing, but its more the fact that people asking about international men’s day because they see there is a international women’s day, is just like someone asking why we don’t have a white history month when we celebrate black history month! They are the same kind of thing! In the past women have been far more oppressed than men, and this does continue now, which is why international women’s day has a right to exist regardless of whether there is a international men’s day.

    • Thank you!

  • This article is awesome. Thank you for showing how women’s rights are still an issue and do still need to be fought for. You’ve really shown up the false, empty ‘equality’ most advocates of an international men’s day seem to believe in.

    • Thanks so much! That means a lot.

  • Both this and the everyday sexism project hit the nail on the head of how sexism is relevant and part of everyday life. I commend your ability to write such a thought provoking and fantastic blog.

  • Actually, there already is an International Men’s Day (November 19th), which could be, if we made it, a perfect opportunity for celebrating positive male role models and showing men that they don’t have conform to misogynist, macho stereotypes. But it is, alas, not very widely seen as such.

    I know most men who complain about “why is there a women’s day and not a men’s day” are usually being antagonistic–but you could have turned this around and addressed the fact that what would be most beneficial for men (and women) is if there really were a male-driven movement to explore what it means to be a man, and how we can help to promote gender equality by encouraging positive role models.

    Next time some stupid man does that, while he’s asking you to make a sandwich, *please* don’t just spit all of the above sarcasm (although very valid) back in his face, because that will just make him get defensive and he probably won’t listen to you.

    • Please don’t perpetuate a really unhelpful power relation by telling me how I should and shouldn’t react to sexism that affects me and not you, especially under the guise of being sympathetic to the issues discussed. It’s quite clearly problematic for a man to patronise me and advise me on how to deal with my own liberation.

  • men have their genitals mutilated in many countries everyday, how many males have died from botched foreskin removal, some have even died from contracting herpes from the rabbis as they kiss the penis after mutilation, men also are victims of domestic violence and have even less emergency beds and shelters than women, with those reporting domestic violence being only the tip of the ice burg as most do not report domestic violence as they are seen as week, if violence kicks of at home, if the women reports it the police remove the man from the home, if this happens the other way round the male is still removed from the home. If a women leaves the home with a child society allows this, if the male did this he would have visits from the police and social services, if the women leaves the man becomes classed as an absent father even if he see’s that child daily and contribute financially, he is still classed as absent, under the new bedroom tax he can not even keep a room free for that child to use when he is allowed to see his child, On the days he does see his child these days are usually determined by the mother and he has to keep to what ever time scales they request. As for your arguments about the sun, I only know 1 person who buys the sun and she is female, there are stereo typed magazines for men just as there are for women, I have worked in several places where I have been the only male, I have been subjected to sexual harassment and language, even to the point of forced physical sexual harassment, when I complained I was met with, yeah you love it really, think yourself lucky etc. Today I am still subjected to and reduced to being a typical man, go play with your man toys, did you man look, yeah man flu, he’s got a cold the poor darling. I feel your blog highlights the mess we live in and equality is equality, not all men benefit from patriarchy and if we wished to we would need to follow their rules in order to benefit. Personally I feel days like international women’s day, Gay pride, international men’s day, etc only separate us further and do little to advance our society, we need to disregard our sexuality and gender and just treat each other as fellow Humans regardless of your dangly bits and wobbly bits. As You can see I do not call for a men’s day, lets just celebrate our common good, focus on the positive and eliminate this stupid gender divide.

  • Its actually people like you who create a need for a “Men’s day”. It is easy to point out that the majority of rape and domestic abuse is perpetrated by men on women, but the silent minority of men suffer at the hands of men or women and have much less support. Female bosses often target men and make them feel uncomfortable, but there is no support available. A lot of this goes unreported as a result.

    It is due to positive discrimination such as this day that the distinction between men and women is so wide. If the focus were instead on rape or pay equality. in other words the actual issue at hand rather than a generic “yay, we’re female and repressed, lets complain!”, a lot more people would be included and willing to listen and not just write the day off as another day for feminists to jump on their soapbox and rant about the injustices they suffer each day.

    There are also injustices faced by men, with the belief being they should just get on and “be a man” about it. Women petition for equality, yet I don’t recall ever having had a door held open by a lady for either myself or another man. Neither do I expect to receive chocolates or flowers as a surprise nor expect a woman to just know what I’m thinking. Not these compare the more serious matters mentioned in the article.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe these injustices are real, serious and shouldn’t exist, however I don’t think the focus of the day should create the very divide that they are trying to eliminate.

    • I just want to say that I think you have missed the point somewhat. She isn’t trying to be stereotypical or create a greater gap between the genders but to try and point out a few flaws with what people believe to be “equality” amongst the genders. Yes it would be better if people argued against the discrimination of men, I myself have had many arguments with people about the inequalities in regards to men but alas my thoughts are ignored. Also, just want to say that you have not met a lot of decent people in your life, I constantly open doors for both men and women and I regularly buy my boyfriend chocolates just because I can.

      Sometimes it can seem like someone is trying to widen the gap between genders when they are just trying to point out flaws in one respect. I’m sure if the author had been writing about the inequalities males face that it would have ignored the important issues that women deal with.

  • Love this! Just what I would like to come out with sometimes when people try to tell me that gender inequality was a thing of the 50s, but doesn’t exist today! (No joke).
    Also, to all the ‘But what about the MENS?’ crowd…International Men’s day…November 19th! Do your research before getting on your high horse.

  • http://binarythis.com/2012/03/08/men-and-international-womens-day/ . A much more fair blog on the topic in my view. As someone who supports gender equality (which is not just feminism), it is really difficult to read such a divisive post. Your reply comments in the section below about your step father and boyfriend could have been included to present a fairer picture of male attitudes today. As like any social movement, you need the support of people from all sides if you want to achieve your outcome and writing such an article may not actually help in achieving what you originally set out to do with this piece.

    To be honest, this post reminds me of my ranting essays about global capitalism during my undergrad – basically it misses the point due to massive over generalisation. Are we talking about sexual inequality or gender inequality? I hope gender inequality, because that is a way to overcome these binary arguments that leave us in the simple back and forth debate. We live in a complex world, and both men and women are disempowered in various ways. I don’t know you, but you would be more empowered than many of the young males I have worked with over the years. Please, appreciate that there is generational difference, and the young people these days, in first world countries such as your own have a much more advanced notion of the importance of gender equality. The world is complex, so I suggest writing on specific examples rather than the grand rhetoric. However, I agree, there is much gender inequality in the world. I encourage you to focus your attention on the developing world where millions of women (and men who don’t fit the prescribed social identity of being “male”) are severely disempowered.

  • Somehow some people seem to have been coming back to this/revisiting it lately which made me come back too and read over the article and the comments section. A lot of the comments on here really irked me and so I just wanted to make a few things clear (things that I can’t believe I even have to say):

    1. I do not hate men. Quite obviously this article is satire, designed to highlight exactly how awful/ridiculous the shit women face is by gender-flipping it. The outrage it seems to have provoked tells me quite clearly that it’s done the job it set out to. But I repeat, it’s SATIRE. Of course I’m not suggesting we do all these things to men.

    2. I really won’t deal with men patronising me and telling me how my ‘talent’ and time would be better spent. Looking back over these comments I’m impressed with how politely I’ve answered some of them but am also impressed with how some men who started off being condescending actually checked themselves when I responded. This is what I expect of men who have any interest in advancing feminism and gender equality – as men, you don’t set the agenda. The role of men in feminism is an important one, but to make any contribution you have to listen to what women, the people who have experienced what feminism is fighting against, want to prioritise.Telling me how I should and shouldn’t go about my own feminism perpetuates the very power relation that feminism ultimately seeks to abolish, so ironically you’re actually highlighting even further the need for feminism when you tell me that I’m focusing on a problem that doesn’t exist anymore, or that my efforts would be better spent elsewhere. Being patronising is essentially a tool to undermine what I’m saying and ultimately silence me – actually an incredibly sexist thing to do.

    Finally, those of you suggesting ‘balance’ is derailing. If I was writing an article about all the problems in the world of course I would mention terrible things that happen to men (although they are certainly not structurally oppressed in the same way as women), and women in the developing world. But my experience is of being a fairly privileged 20yr old woman in Scotland, and I don’t want to patronise people less privileged than me by lecturing them about their problems (exactly what some of you seem to be trying to do to me). Somehow I don’t think the article would have the same clout were it to end with ‘P.S. Bad stuff happens to men too’.

    Thanks for reading this, and thanks to everyone who has got what I’m trying to say and who has left nice comments and shared this round at the time. There was way more support than negativity, but the bad ones are always the ones that stick in your head! Hopefully this clears things up for anyone who thought I was some kind of blood-sucking monster sticking pins in voodoo dolls of men.

    Edited to add: I don’t always agree with Laurie Penny but think this article is good and relevant here on how women channelling wider anger about structures and particular individuals into anger against men as a group is never the same as the original oppression being experienced, and can be a justifiable human response to experiences which can often have difficult and long-lasting consequences: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/08/laurie-penny/men-sexism

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