Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Boys will be Boys

Yesterday was International Men's Day and Twitter was awash with comments about it, ranging from the nonsensical to the frankly baffling. We had things such as:

i) people, mostly men, making comments such as "every day is International Men's Day", thus reinforcing the stereotype that men are by design a dominant gender
ii) people, mostly men, saying that they deserve a day of recognition for not being abusive, thus reinforcing the stereotype that all men abuse, and a non-abusive one is a rarity
iii) people, mostly women, expressing their distaste for International Men's Day for unspecified reasons, thus causing a problem
iv) people, mostly if not entirely men, verbally abusing people, mostly women, expressing their distaste for International Men's Day for unspecified reasons, thus adding to a problem
v) zero mentions of any other gender separate from 'men' and 'women'
We never get any of this sort of shit on International Women's Day. That's a day on which inspirational and effective women are celebrated. Those claiming that we celebrate inspirational and effective men all year around, so why do we need a day for it?, seems dubious to me. If you're going to take that attitude, then why do we need an International Women's Day? Why do we need an International Day for Children, like today? Why do we have a Mothering Sunday and a Father's Day? Somebody from any subset will be appreciated for any one moment, so why do we need a day, eh?

Obviously, this is an extreme example. All I saw on Twitter was people debating the existence of an International Men's Day, not actually doing anything that such a Day would likely be promoting to begin with. So let's talk about inspirational men, shall we? I'll start with Kier Hardie. What a guy.

As much as one might claim that there's a societal bias towards men for preference, I'm not entirely sure if that's true. There's a lot of sexism towards women, with evidence that they are paid less than men (unfounded, but I suspect it is true), but conversely, I'm sure that women are more likely to get jobs (founded, with my uncle who works for Mazars openly stating that the company used "positive discrimination" as a hiring principle, and me being turned down for jobs in favour of my friends who have less experience, but are girls).

There's a historical preference, sure. It's incredibly saddening that history usually has recorded "important men", but that's history. In the present, we are redressing the balance. And that's equality. And that's good. That's what we want.

So where does that leave men? With a stereotype.

I cried once. Well, I've cried lots of times. I mean, lots and lots. Esque once called me "crying-boy" because that's what I do. But I remember crying once because I was with a group of people from church. I was crying and upset and I wanted a hug. I hugged someone I considered a friend, who was also the boyfriend of a closer friend. He threw his hands up in the air, as if unsure what to do. Everyone else in the group looked distinctly uncomfortable. They began to trickle away, leaving me still crying.

I was told, later on, by my closer friend, that nobody knew what to do, because boys don't cry.

This is why we need an International Men's Day. Because there's still a lack of knowledge there, and if we are going to hold it for any and all genders, we should take a while to recognise that everyone, regardless of their chromosomes, is an individual.

So don't question. Just think.

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