International Men’s Day is here once again. I feel we’ve made great strides in 2016 and many people, women included, are really starting to get it. This year in the UK, the event brings together some large and amazing charities doing what they can to raise awareness of men’s issues. In direct response to the sneers and criticisms, The Men and Boys Coalition’s tagline for this year is Not Every Day is International Men’s Day.
As part of the awareness day, they’ve released a number of powerful and hard-hitting memes for sharing on social media. I’ve posted one below. Please click the link to see a few more.
M&BC is working in association with CALM (the UK’s only charity dedicated to male suicide), Baggy Trousers (testicular cancer), Blast Project (sexual exploitation of males) and many others. I feel very warmed that so much effort is going into IMD this year. I’m sure Jess Phillips is spitting feathers right now, but I feel the best that we can do is not turn reactionary and violent, but challenge people and those who act in the way that she does with calm. State the facts and keep hammering it home until they get it. Here then, are my five hopes for IMD.
That People Accept the Need For IMD
Unfortunately, the main reason so many people disparage the need for IMD is the notion that men have so much privilege that we don’t need such a day. This is utter nonsense. I’m not denying male privilege, but I am challenging two notions: one, that there is no such thing as male disadvantage; and two, that male privilege does not discount male disadvantage (or female privilege). Everyone, men and women, left and right, feminist or otherwise, need to accept that in some cases, men do suffer difficulty and receive little help for it.
For Women To Try To Understand The Unique Difficulties of Being a Man
Not all women, but many are hostile to the notion that men even have difficulties. I’ve been there myself. Trying talking about your mental health difficulties as a man. Try talking about having any difficulty as a man and you will invariably come up against “yes well, but we women have it harder” and “it’s easier for you, you’re a man”. This is a world where the silencing tactic “check your privilege” shames men into silence. This brings me to…
The End of Oppression Olympics and Identity Politics
I have it harder because I am X, Y, Z. You have it easy because you are A, B, C. What happens is that these groups end up trying to outdo each other in who has it harder. It’s unhelpful. More than that, nothing changes. Nobody gets help as they spend all their time shouting down the other side. I have been a critic of feminism, but that does not make me an MRA. Identity politics is a common 21st century problem. Shaping your viewpoints around the labels you give yourself is intellectually vacuous.
That We are Aware of Casual Sexism Against Men As We Are Against Women
And we don’t attempt to shame and silence those who bring it up. Maybe you’ve never seen any, maybe you don’t think it exists. The assumption of male guilt, that when a marriage breaks down it must have been his fault or if a woman hits a man it’s the assumption that he drove her to it. This is just one form of casual sexism. So is “be a man” and “man up”. While we’re at it, let’s add “you’ll know how to fix my car, you’re a man”. And sexual assault by women against men is “just a bit of fun”. It happened to me some 20 years ago at a nightclub. Somebody felt she had a right to grab my crotch because “your [my] cock looks really big in those chinos”. Had I reported her to a bouncer or the Police I’m sure I would have been laughed off.
That IMD Stops Being a Battleground and Starts Being a Call To Action
Feminists and MRAs are always shaking their spears at each other over this or that issue. Fuck them both. Because in the long run, pissing contests solve nothing. I’d rather raise money for men’s issues charities and I have already done so for some of the charities listed on the B&MC coalition.
So to feminists I ask: if you think feminism is for men too, when is it going to start proving it? When is it going to get behind IMD and support these important causes? When is feminism going to call out misandrists and stop enabling them? Why did you stay silent last year when Jess Phillips mocked and ridiculed IMD?
To MRAs I ask similarly: what have you ever done to help these men suffering difficulties beyond complaining on Reddit and Facebook? Why don’t you set up a fundraiser for one of these important charities or one in your own country? Ignore the misandrists; leave them to their echo chambers of self-congratulation.