Acknowledging International Men's Day

19 November 2015
November 19 marks International Men's Day. No, I'm not mocking it or the people who celebrate it, and I'm not facetiously asking what other opportunities have their been for the achievements of men to be celebrated. Because IMD isn't, shouldn't be about that.

The recent rise of the men's rights movement has. somewhat ironically, proved a point that feminists have been making for decades - that there are issues that affect men and women differently on the basis of gender. It doesn't mean that these issues never affect anyone of the other  sex and/or gender. But this is why domestic violence is frequently, and correctly, framed as a feminist issue; it does disproportionately affect women, and no matter how many times men's rights activists state "1 in 3 victims are men" or "women can be just as violent" it doesn't arise out of a vacuum, or from the individual actions of violent men or women, but from a society underpinned by notions of different power roles of men and women. And no amount of stating 'we should condemn violence against everyone" will change that.

But on IMD, we should focus on the areas where men are disadvantaged; such as in educational outcomes, suicide rates, as victims of violence in general. These are areas where men come off worse, and we need to talk about why, and what we can do to try to make it better. That's what we mean when we say the patriarchy hurts men and women, It creates a toxic masculinity where are young men are still taking swings at each other on boozy nights out and driving to fast and failing to engage with help and support services and feeling there's no way out but to end it all. And they're only going to fall further behind, with the dismantling of trades training and the rise of the mandatory degree for even entry level jobs, boys who are not being engaged by the education system risk becoming further marginalised. More fights, despair, addiction, lives ruined and lost.

Unfortunately you wouldn't know this from the men's rights movement, certainly it seems to ignore such issues in favour of an obsession with false rape allegations and denying the gendered issue of domestic violence.

It suits the agenda of men's rights activists and the women who support them to claim feminists hate men. We don't. We have male partners and friends and brothers and sons we adore. They also claim that women are now equal, even have it better than men, and men's rights is just a way of reclaiming equality. No. There are still too many areas where women are subject to misogyny and disadvantage, and that's why I'm a feminist. But we certainly have it different, and I think it is important on this day to look at the problems and challenges that men and boys  


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