If there is a day that is more mocked than celebrated, it is the 19th of November, commemorated as International Men's Day.
Founded in 1999, International Men's Day (IMD) is intended to promote international reflection and incite action in support of men's health and well-being, gender equality, improving gender relations and honoring positive male role models. Although the intentions behind this day are laudable, this day is ironically ridiculed by the very people who are vocal against gender discrimination. Dubbing all men as rapists, Susi Bone writes in the mirror, " A day that might prompt men into speaking out about rape, and perhaps taking a day off from it."
The Huffington post ran an article titled "When 365 days aren't enough."
If women are afforded a day to celebrate their accomplishments and bring awareness to current issues they face, why shouldn't men have the opportunity to do the same?
Admittedly, the majority of corporate executives, government bureaucrats, and other positions of power are occupied by men, but the majority of men do not occupy positions of power. Men are 10 times more likely to end up in prison, 4 times more likely to commit suicide, and 3 times more likely to end up homeless.
As Ally Fogg so eloquently points out in his article in The Independent, those who mock IMD fail to understand that their opposition harms not the intended powerful men that head the governments and corporations but instead "the homeless, the desperate, the suicidal, the young victims of rape and sexual abuse leaving care and going straight to prison."
Men are also much more likely to be falsely accused of crimes they did not commit. In the United States, over 90% of those wrongly accused and subsequently exonerated of crimes are men, and over 57% of them had been accused of rape.
There can be no denying that across the world, women, from being denied basic human rights such as the right to education to being the most common victims of domestic violence and rape, have historically been the more oppressed sex. Not only do most supporters of International Men's Day fully understand this fact, but we motivate behind the idea of eradicating such injustices.
What if IMD was used to bring to light the elements of gender stereotyping and discrimination, that not only affect women but also men?
Some of the fundamental issues that oppress men worldwide today such as violence, hyper masculinity, high rates of incarceration are derivatives of patriarchy. Patriarchal stereotypes have created a culture of silence surrounding men since it is deemed uncool and un-masculine to cry.
Research has consistently shown that men are less likely to tell anyone when they are the victims of rape or domestic violence. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 79% of suicides are committed by men. How many of these suicides could have been prevented if society collectively made it okay for men to discuss their emotions?
If men are given the space to come to terms with their issues, and to therefore grow into more self-aware, self-realized, compassionate, and thoughtful people, then perhaps men will be more sensitive to women's rights and the ill effects of patriarchy.
According to an article in Time Magazine by Kathy Young, "experiments have shown that while people are quick to intervene when a man in a staged public quarrel becomes physically abusive to his girlfriend, reactions to a similar situation with the genders reversed mostly range from indifference to amusement or even sympathy for the woman." While inclusion of this study is in no way meant to disregard the prevalence of violent crimes against women at the hands of men, turning a blind eye to the violence against men that also exists, at the hands of both men and women, serves only as reinforcement of the patriarchal stereotypes that feminists have been working so hard and for so long to break down.
As Emma Watson, the U.N women's goodwill ambassador, pointed out in her speech, fighting gender inequality requires a collective effort on everyone's behalf, not just half of the population. Raising awareness about the ways in which gender inequality affects everyone in our society can only improve our ability to enact global change.