The Global Campaign for Men and Boys
Reason Five: We don’t need an International Men’s Day because feminism is taking care of men’s issues
This is an interesting argument not just against International Men’s Day, but also frequently used against any attempt to address men’s issues from a non-feminist perspective.
Jane Martinson of The Guardian, in her oddly headlined article “the feminist principles behind International Men’s Day”, seemed to take this view saying:
“The suggestion that men face discrimination as a sex is a bit ludicrous….which should mean that today’s International Men’s Day, partly designed to end discrimination, is a bit of a joke.”
Martinson went on to say that the objectives of International Men’s Day—to provide a global platform to promote positive male role models; to celebrate men’s positive contributions; to focus on men’s health; to highlight discrimination against men and boys; to create a safer, better world and to improve gender relations and promote gender equality—“make no sense”.
In short, there is no need for men (or women) to bother their silly little non-feminist heads building a movement to address men’s issues, because the movement to solve the problems faced by men and boys already exists and “the movement is called feminism.”
Dr Roberta Guerrina, a gender expert who used International Men’s Day to tell fathers that they are more interested in playing golf than looking after their kids, agreed with Martinson tweeting “what does it (International Men’s Day) want to achieve that feminism doesn’t?
There is a fundamentalist arrogance within parts of the feminist movement that only feminism can fix gender problems. It’s a view that Ava Vidal at the Daily Telegraph seems to share with Martinson.
“Surely,” said Vidal in her article (International Men’s Day, it’s a touch ironic isn’t it chaps?) “a lot of things International Men’s Day has been set up to tackle…are already being done so within the feminist movement”.
Vidal, who describes herself in the article as a “black feminist”, believes the problems that men experience are all man-made:
“The unwritten rules that have been set up that make it more difficult for men to talk about feelings of depression or admit to being victims of violence have been done so by men.”
According to Greg Andresen, editor of Men’s Health Australia and a full-time dad who hasn’t a clue what it’s like to being a black, female feminist but has a good deal more lived experience of being a man than Ava Vidal, thinks differently.
Greg’s worked in the men’s health sector for 10 years and says the a constant refrain he hears is ‘why don’t men open up and talk about their feelings more?’
And yet when men do speak out about men’s issues, they are “attacked and pilloried as “paranoid woman haters”, he says. Greg points to a report on the Modern (Aussie) Man by M&C Saatchi written for International Men’s Day which he says reveals that “most men just keep quiet about gender issues for fear of being shamed, shot down and shut up” by the rhetoric of feminist critics.
It is notable that Ava Vidal’s article on how feminism is already dealing with men’s issues was largely dedicated to attacking me personally—as one the International Men’s Day co-ordinators—for daring to be a non-feminist (whilst trying desperately to misrepresent me as a rabid anti-feminist—which I am not).
Similary, Carolyn Managh, the author of Australia’s International Men’s Day reported on her facebook timeline that : “The Feminists are coming at me – for Modern (Aussie) Man report – all guns blazing.”
Clearly, there are many feminists who don’t want anyone other than feminists to have a say about gender issues. As I said in my Guardian comment piece:
“There are many inequalities that disproportionately affect men and boys. We cannot and should not expect feminism and the women’s movement to address these aspects of gender equality. Initiatives like International Men’s Day are vitally important as they provide us with a global platform where people from a diverse range of perspectives who are committed to improving the lives of men and boys can get involved in the fight for equality.”
Robert Shepherd, a pro-feminist male writer who blogged on men and International Men’s Day at openDemocracy, powerfully demonstrated how the feminist discourse on gender may empower some men to think about women’s issues, but doesn’t help them to understand the issues facing men and boys. He said:
“I am not….very good at talking about these issues I worry that I may end up adopting positions that are blind to obvious social justice issues where these exist. Ask me about physical and sexual violence against women, and I will be able to confidently tell you what I believe….ask me the same question about men, however, and I will go through mental gymnastics…and so in the end I am a man who doesn’t know how to talk about issues that concern being a man.”
HAVE YOU READ ALL FIVE DUMB REASONS PEOPLE GIVE FOR OPPOSING INTERNATIONAL MEN’S DAY? SEE THESE LINKS FOR MORE….
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Photo Credit: Flickr/Trishhhh