Published on November 19, 2012 | by Dean Hendry

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Bond, male bond

Two men grasping each other's hands

International Men’s Day is a time to celebrate and come together for good causes [Helen Hasse]

Man made the cars to take us over the road. Man made the trains to carry heavy loads. Yes it is a man’s world and November 19 is the day we celebrate it internationally.

International Men’s Day (IMD) is an opportunity for people around the world to appreciate and celebrate the men in their lives and the positive contribution they make to our society.

Where would women be without men: Who would deal with the difficult-to-open jars? Who would explain the offside rule? Who would take the rubbish out and who would design your best clothes? And who would remember to always leave the toilet seat up?

Embrace it

There will be some woman somewhere who will be choking on her Dr. Martens at the thought of International Men’s Day, mainly because there was no emancipation for men; because men were not liberated, there is the assumption that they always had it good.

This is unfair and there is actually support from women for IMD. This is highlighted by the words of Ingeborg Breines – Director of Women and Culture of Peace for UNESCO – who said, “[IMD] is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.”

“International Men’s Day is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.” Ingeborg Breines

This doesn’t stop some people thinking that this is a day for men to spend celebrating being a man, being a Jedi Knight of maleness because after all you are the one born with the light sabre. Stick on a suit and channel your inner Don Draper.

If you want to use your masculinity as a weapon of mass seduction, go for it. Slap on some Old Spice and walk around like you are James Bond. Turn up to work on a horse named Silver. Get your hunter-gatherer on, pull out your old Scalextric or get yourself a spray tan.

It does not matter what your age is or if you are gay or straight. You do not have to be macho just as long as you are a man. This is your day to embrace having the ability to pee standing up and being allowed to work in a submarine if you should wish to do so.

All men welcomed

If you are a retro-sexual kind of guy who brings home the bacon so your woman can whip up a couple of sandwiches, then that is cool; sort of. Or if you are a metrosexual who gets his eyebrows threaded that is cool too; sort of.

This day is also about freeing ourselves from oppressive macho stereotypes that we as men are supposed to conform to.

Men are obviously different from women. We have different wiring and plumbing. There is the assumption that ‘real men’ do not actually spend much time worrying about being real men, so this entire discussion is a little futile. We have to change this attitude.

Women have the same rights as men but not the same pressures. For example, it is widely accepted that it is easier for men to age in our society, and this is not entirely true. Men are getting balder younger now, by the time they hit 30 their most treasured possession is their hairline.

Now we could get hair transplants like Wayne Rooney or get clip in hair extensions like girls, but we do not because it looks ridiculous. When a woman loses her hair, it is a tragedy, but when a man does it is funny and a reason to be teased. Most men just have to suck it up and get on with it and dream about waking up with a Brian May perm for the rest of their life.

The cause

All joking aside, there is also a more serious element behind this day; to raise awareness that in general, men die younger, men are more likely to commit suicide and there are other more serious health issues that men need to know about.

IMD was started in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, an academic from Port of Spain, Trinidad, and is now celebrated in more than 60 countries.

The objectives of IMD include a focus on mens’ and boys’ health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.

IMD – commemorated through various ways including public seminars, conferences, and fundraisers – is an opportunity for men to celebrate their contributions to community, family, and childcare, while also shedding light on the discrimination against them.

Warwick Marsh, Global Coordinator for IMD’s website says: “The November IMD is a significant date as it interfaces the popular ‘Movember’ charity event which began here in Australia and also with Universal Children’s Day on November 20, with which the IMD forms a 48 hour celebration of men and children respectively, and of the special relationships they share”.

 “The November International Men’s Day is a significant date as it interfaces the popular ‘Movember’ charity event” Warwick Marsh

Daddy cool

According to David Cameron, absent fathers should be treated like drink drivers. However, one of the main objectives of IMD is to encourage men to re-engage with their children, to get back in contact, and to take more responsibility. The relationship between father and son plays a crucial part of being a man.

Men nowadays are more likely to stay home and look after the children while their wives – who may be a higher earner – go to work. There is still a stigma about this in that that some house husbands may feel emasculated instead of feeling valued.

Yet, being in this position is a growing trend and, even if they are not always at home, men are trying to make more time for their children and family.

Fathers.com is a website dedicated to the vital role fathers play in children’s lives. The website states that boys look to fathers in their search for their own identity. Without a father, boys have a harder time defining who they are and who they want to be.

The need to belong to a family or tribe is a significant issue in boys and having a dad in the picture gives them this sense of alliance. Studies show that boys without fathers are more likely to join gangs because they then feel they must look outside of the family for social acceptance.

Fathers can model good character traits like integrity, courage, restraint, and fairness. A father who does not show up for his boy epitomises disrespect. Whereas present fathers, can actively teach respectful behaviour such as trust, manners and understanding boundaries.

This day is not about all men marching across to Trafalgar Square holding giant penis-shaped balloons like some sort of mass hen night. It is not a day to become an anti-feminist and repress women. In fact, women are more than welcome to get involved. After all, it may be a man’s world, but it would mean nothing without a woman or a girl.

International Men’s Day is not just another name for ‘International Misogynist Day’, it is a day to promote men’s causes and celebrate our achievements in spite of our ability to put the toilet seat down.

You can help International Men’s Day by making a donation. The Dads4Kids: Fatherhood Foundation is a harm-prevention charity based in Australia. Their mission is to improve the well being of children through promoting and supporting good fathers. Children are always the benefactors of their charitable work.

Your donation will help do more to promote International Men’s Day and turn the tide of fatherlessness. With your help, they can promote ‘positive male role models’ through International Men’s Day and better help children throughout their lives.

www.internationalmensday.com

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