The aim of international men’s day is to improve gender relations, promote gender balance, focus on men’s and boys health and highlight positive male role models. These are all meaningful and valid reasons to mark out a day.
I don’t think it progresses anyone’s cause to mock the day and imply that somehow everyday is men’s day. To do so belittle’s some challenge’s that affect men and is counter productive in addressing gender imbalance.
I believe the day is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on positive male role models – to talk about gender balance in our own lives. I have no daughters, I live with 4 men, I can only achieve what I do because the men in my life muck in with what many would describe as traditional female tasks – we don’t have any ‘female’ tasks in our house. However, arguably, we do have some ‘male’ tasks – some things that simply because I am less that 5ft 2 I can’t do, some things that I simply don’t have the strength to do – so the men do those without complaining. There are other things that I am good at that others aren’t and so are left to me but they are not ‘female’ tasks but rather Sabina tasks – they usually speak to my penchant for order and organisation or my ability to write or construct an argument – my husband likes to iron it relaxes him – we do what works for us irrespective of our genitals.
International men’s day is also a day to shine a spotlight on issues like male suicide, or self medication of mental health issues by men through alcohol or drug misuse.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in young men (15-34 years) in Ireland , Great Britain and in other countries around the world. If you are male you are more likely to kill yourself than be killed, even in an active war zone. Yes that is correct, the biggest killer of American troops in Afghanistan is suicide, not bombs, bullets or terrorists. The primary cause of death among soldiers serving in the Israeli Defence Force is suicide. According to a report published in 2012, more young soldiers took their own lives in the three years covered by the report than died as a result of disease, traffic accidents, operational activity or other calamities.
Depression isn’t solely a men’s issue but, possibly due to culturally constructed notions of masculinity, men are less likely to seek help and often see suicide as the only solution.
In case anyone is wondering I took the photo above last year to highlight the issue of male suicide – the image was posed by a model (my husband).
Gender issues are not exclusively the preserve of women. I support international men’s day.