So here we are. November 19th. It's International Men's Day... although you probably don't need me to tell you that. If you were anywhere on social media during International Women's Day this year, you'd already be incredibly aware.
Twitter on IWD seemed to me to be particularly single-minded. There were the usual shady comments wishing people a "happy when is International Men's Day day" and several "It's November 19th" tweets. @ruffledsheets even changed his display name to "It's November 19th", which - I think - may have been taking it a bit too far.
Okay, I say "a bit..."
In amongst all the celebrations of marginalised communities in the world squats IMD. It is a confusing beast, with a mostly positive agenda yet both ignored and reviled - or satirised - by both people who don't understand its message and misandry-infused radfems, and misinterpreted by the horde of angry "men's rights activists" (I have a massive issue with that term and its negative connotations; everyone has rights, including men, but we know what I mean, right?) who use it for their own nefarious ends. IMD is for neither of those groups. It's a celebration and commemoration of inspirational or influential men throughout history and the present day.
Last I checked, that was also the point of IWD (for women, natch).
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Spending all of IWD reminding people of the existence of IMD, in my opinion, devalues them both. It does a massive disservice to women who want to celebrate IWD because their own day is being overshadowed by something else which isn't actually happening. It does an equally massive disservice to men who want to celebrate IMD because it paints them as whiny, sulky egocentrics who need to be reminded of a day of their own which they probably don't deserve anyway.
It doesn't help anyone. Both IWD and IMD are there for a reason, and promoting one on the other somehow defeats the point. It doesn't help promote equality, it furthers a divide that shouldn't be there to begin with, and it promotes a massive stereotype war: radfems on one side, MRAs on the other, and the hundreds of thousands of people who actually understand the idea of sexual equalisation not given any airtime, because being rational isn't in the least entertaining.
As a man, I have sometimes suffered. I've been passed over for jobs in favour of women with less experience; I've been told I'm both too masculine and not masculine enough ("man up!"); I've not been allowed to look after small children on my own - despite being trained to do so - because I'm a man; I've been called out by my sister for enjoying a marriage ceremony because she thought it was too phallocentric (although I'm assuming it's just her). I've certainly been verbally abused, both by girls because they "can", and boys because "boys are just joking around, so it's okay."
And, to put it bluntly, the centuries of assumed male dominance and perceived sidelining of women in history books written by men were very unfair... but they weren't my fault.
I've been told at one point that they were.
Reminding me of all this on IWD doesn't do anything to promote women. Demonising men isn't the way to do that. And, unless we get back on track to actually do the things we're meant to be doing, then we may as well not have either day.
Let's not let hate win.