Why We Should Celebrate International Men’s Day

First we saw a lively if not a little childish argument as to whether we should have a debate in the Commons to mark International Men’s Day on the 19th November. This was put forward by Tory MP Philip Davis only to be shot down and ridiculed by Jess Philips, Labour MP, who argued that men don’t need a day as every day, is men’s day in Parliament.

Then on Thursday York University cancelled International Men’s Day event after an open letter from students and staff citing that –

“We believe that giving practical application to concepts of equality and diversity should be taken seriously by the university,” the letter said. “However, we do not believe that this is furthered by the promotion of International Men’s Day in general and are concerned by the particular way in which the university has chosen to do so.

But I don’t agree, I think Philips and York University has missed an important point about real equality and how having that debate and those events may really help a lot of men learn to talk about their issues – something most men don’t.

When we look at Davis’s suggested talking point, there are some really important issues that we need our men to take more seriously – men’s health, domestic violence and education.

The truth is women get far more attention and support about health, education, abuse and domestic violence – while men may have the monopoly of power and employment, the most important things like health and domestic violence are ignored. While white British working class boys are being failed when it comes to education and have for many years now. 

Men’s Health Facts

Nearly four in five suicides (78%) are by men and is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 – World Health Organisation estimates that 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year. 

12.5% of men in the UK were diagnosed with a mental health disorder 

Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women) 

On average, across the world, men die 6 years earlier than women. 

The impact of prostate and testicular cancer on lives is substantial- prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide – the number of cases expected to almost double to 1.7 million cases by 2030. 

Men visit their GP 20% less frequently than women and are also much less likely to have regular dental check-ups or to use community pharmacies as a source of advice and information about health. 

40% of men still die prematurely (before the age of 75)

Unskilled manual men have a life expectancy of 73 and, in some parts of England, male life expectancy is as low as 65

As we can see when it comes to men and their health they don’t look after themselves as much as women do – it could be argued that women take care of themselves more because of the success of International Women’s Day and the efforts made to educate women and encourage them to look after their health, so why not for men?

Men are not encouraged to talk about their problems, maybe because it is seen as being weak or feminine but we cannot afford for men to continue thinking this way and I think as women we can play our part by encouraging and supporting International Men’s Day.

Men are dying prematurely, more likely to commit suicide, don’t visit there doctors, less likely to get diagnosed with a mental health disorder and more likely to die from a male related cancer- maybe because they don’t visit the doctors when they first have a problem, so why aren’t these things important enough for us as women to care about- these are our husbands, sons, cousins, uncles, brothers and grandfathers. 

Educational Failings 

A report by the Sutton Trust (Missing Talent) by Dr Rebecca Allen, Director at Education Datalab, highlighted that a third (36 percent) of working class white boys are underachieving when it comes to education, not because they aren’t capable or bright but because of the way the education system and curriculum are set up, these boys are being failed, something which is unacceptable.

The report argues that even bright young children can be found to be underachievers by the age of 16 with disadvantage and where you live playing a huge part in that.

Dr Lee Eliot Major, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust said –

“figures highlight the tragic waste of talent witnessed every year in our schools as so many bright pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds fail to fulfil their early academic potential. It is a scandal that over a third of boys from low income homes who achieve so highly at the end of primary school are not among the highest school achievers at age 16”

Domestic Violence against Men

In 2010 the Guardian reported that Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show between 04/5 and 08/9 men accounted for 40 percent of reported domestic violence victims – which actually rose to 43 percent in 06/07 and rose again to 45.5 percent in 07/08. It also reports a fall in reports to 37.7 percent in 08/09 nearly a 10 percent drop.

In 2014 there were still 700.000 male victims of domestic violence and that number could be much higher because men have for years reported that when they go to the police they are laughed at and their complaints not taken seriously. 

Arguably this could be the reason as to why men choose not to report it because they are not supported – could you imagine that happening to a woman, we would be outraged, the world would be outraged and we would hunt down any man that didn’t agree. 

The truth is that we as women talk about equality but the way we talk about and treat men makes me think that if we had the chance to treat men the way they treat us we would- we belittle them and trivialise their problems, when if we truly wanted equality that should include celebrating and supporting them in every way we can. 

I say to you Miss Philips and those from York University, while I respect your right to your opinion you are wrong. If you think that rubbishing the idea that men need as much support and recognition to the problems they face, as women do, is an acceptable response- it isn’t.

We should be standing side by side in these debates and saying “Yes, your issues are just as important as ours”. Their needs and issues may be different, but they deserve no less respect.

We have men that have been taught by society – including their mothers, that they must be strong; they’re men, buck up. So the truth is they live by that code and they refuse to show any weakness no matter what day of the year it is.

First we saw a lively if not a little childish argument as to whether we should have a debate in the Commons to mark International Men’s Day on the 19th November. This was put forward by Tory MP Philip Davis only to be shot down and ridiculed by Jess Philips, Labour MP, who argued that men don’t need a day as every day, is men’s day in Parliament.

Then on Thursday York University cancelled International Men’s Day event after an open letter from students and staff citing that –

“We believe that giving practical application to concepts of equality and diversity should be taken seriously by the university,” the letter said. “However, we do not believe that this is furthered by the promotion of International Men’s Day in general and are concerned by the particular way in which the university has chosen to do so.

But I don’t agree, I think Philips and York University has missed an important point about real equality and how having that debate and those events may really help a lot of men learn to talk about their issues – something most men don’t.

International Men's Day 2International Men's DayWomenFor IMD

We don’t always show appreciation for the men in our lives, sometimes because the men in our lives don’t talk to us about what’s bothering them. That is why International Men’s Day is a day where we all should be supporting our men and shouting from the rooftops you are important, your problems are important, they affect us too; If you die early we lose a dad, husband, brother, friend – we lose you. 

To any woman who thinks men don’t need a day I ask you to reconsider – you may not think they’re worth it or that they already have enough but I could introduce you to some genuinely amazing men who deserve as much right to a special day and a debate about their issues as any woman does because they affect us too. All men do – they need this. 

Let’s lead by example and show that real equality is important – we as feminists should be demanding equality for both men and women.

So ladies why don’t you show a special man in your life that you care by tweeting @Ikoniclondon telling us who they are, a little about them, why they’re special to you and putting hashtag  #WomenForIMD and @samyoung841 I will give a big shout for the best and retweet as many as possible.

 

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