Today is a very important day for those of us who take manhood — everything that it encompasses — seriously. It is International Men’s Day 2019.
There are some people — mostly women, by the way — who laugh when they are informed that there is such a thing as International Men’s Day. I can understand that. After all, they are being told every single day, by academia and the larger culture, that men are oppressing women. Or, as some would put it, that every day is men’s day.
If only that were true. Today, in the West, being a man has become all but a crime. We are told we can’t respond to certain job openings because of our gender. We are also constantly told that masculinity — that which distinguishes men from women — is “toxic.”
When parents divorce, the man always loses out and has to fight his butt off to get visiting rights. The kids are almost never assigned to him, no matter how great of a father he is (and how bad the kids’ mother is). When a man and a woman are found guilty of the same crime, men are far more likely to be imprisoned than women.
Every year, over half a million people die from violence. 83% of the victims are men and boys. Shockingly, a similar proportion of the “global burden of disease (ill-health, disability or early death) from violence is borne by boys and men.” 70% of homicide victims are men. 85% of homeless people are men.
The biggest killer of men under the age of 45 is… suicide. If we look at the UK, for example, men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. In the U.S that number is 3.5 times higher. And in Ireland, the suicide rate among men is four times higher than among women. These are shocking numbers, yet few people talk about it… and you get laughed out of every living room when you mention them.
This year’s theme for International Men’s Day is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys.” Warwick Marsh, who coordinates the British version of IMD, explains at the organization’s website that “we want to promote the need to value men and boys, and help people make practical improvements in men and boy’s health and well-being. International Men’s Day encourages men to lead by example. Boys need positive male role models. Our broader community also needs positive male role models. This is the best way to create a fair and safe society which allows everyone the opportunity to flourish.”
The above is why International Men’s Day is an important day and why we have to use it, as Wikipedia rightfully explains:
1. To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but everyday, working-class men who are living decent, honest lives.
2. To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, childcare, and to the environment.
3. To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
4. To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
Of course, the official organization also has something to say about “toxic masculinity,” but I suggest we just ignore that part. In the West, we do not have to talk about that anymore. Instead, the focus should be on how masculinity can be and is healthy.
Let’s be proud to be men. Loyalty. Honor. Courage. Those are the virtues that have driven men for, well, as long as there have been men. Let us focus on them today and be proud that these are the virtues we hold dear.