International Men’s Day celebrates the beauty and diversity of men worldwide. Photo courtesy of Piqsel
Associate Opinion Editor
The day of November 19 seems like an insignificant little box on our calendars, but it is actually more important than we may think. This day happens to be International Men’s Day, a holiday that is often overlooked or forgotten, whether it be on social media or in our lives. March is Women’s History Month, with March 8 as International Women’s Day, a day which, for many, is a time to uplift the women in our lives and everything they have accomplished and overcome. Although such a day is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge how far we have come as women by celebrating our sisters and mothers, the same cannot be said for the gendered equivalent holiday. Fun fact – whereas International Women’s Day has been recognized by the United Nations since the early 20th century, International Men’s Day is not UN-endorsed, and, ironically, the organization celebrates World Toilet Day on that same date.
As a woman myself, it is a shame to see men feel they have to hide their feelings or struggles and are expected to remain silent about various aspects of their lives because they do not identify as women, or are viewed as “privileged” for their gender. While experiences may differ between generations and lifestyles, from my perspective it is commonplace as a college student to hear or read statements such as “men are trash,” “kill all men,” or men otherwise being told that their views or experiences do not matter, even if it is “just for laughs.” We certainly should not ignore the obstacles women face, but this does not justify tearing down men and boys in the process, even if you think you are just “punching up.”
Now keep this in mind – this is not international white men’s day or international rich men’s day – this is a celebration of individuals from all walks of life, who encounter a wide variety of struggles. This day commemorates queer men, trans men, men of color, men in poverty, and men living with disabilities and mental health issues. Just like women and non-binary individuals, men face their own unique and intersectional challenges in life, collectively and as individual beings, which need to be addressed and acknowledged if we want to individually and collectively improve as a society. If we want to achieve gender equality in our lifetime, tearing others down because of their gender identity and assumed qualities is not the way to get there.
Call me a “pick me” girl all you want, but here’s a hot take – men have feelings too. Everyone has their own unique struggles and deserves to feel loved and included, regardless of who they are, which is why men deserve a day of appreciation and as much as women do. We do not need a parade or to worship men as gods, but they are still humans with feelings, passions, and goals, which both coincide with and go beyond gender and sexuality. Even just taking the time to talk to your father, brother, boyfriend, or classmate, and listening to them, thanking them for being a valuable part of their lives, could make a monumental difference to them. Their voices do matter, and their problems and accomplishments should not be diminished solely because of their gender.
This International Men’s Day, instead of shrugging it off thinking, “well, every day is men’s day” — which is not the case, as most of the men you know are rarely celebrated just for being men — think to yourself: what am I accomplishing by harboring negative thoughts about someone because they are a man? Is it not counterproductive and hypocritical to demonize men in the name of gender equality? We as growing and developing individuals must consider this, especially if we look into the context of intersectionality and men as individuals, not merely as a collective group. We are not all alike, in many ways, with gender being among them.
The 19 of November does not have to be a major holiday, but just a day of reflection; one of appreciation and open-mindedness in the name of what is the core value of such days – humanity. We are all human, and to understand that is to be kind and empathetic to all, setting aside the superficial qualities that people have no control over. At the end of the day, we are all just people who need to be loved. Men, women, and everyone else regardless of gender or identity deserve to know what love and kindness feel like.