It’s always an interesting thing, gauging how much people engage with an issue or an idea. Sometimes you’d think that one thing would be wildly popular and it flops, other times you think it’s an absolute stinker, yet it grabs people’s attention and becomes a runaway success. This is especially true on the internet, a place where pictures of cats seem to rate higher than stories about real life heroes much to humanity’s embarrassment.
Sometimes though, the hard work you put in pays off, and something worthwhile manages to shine through the layers of murk and grime. This is the case with International Men’s Day this year.
Did you know that Dads4Kids is the number one digital promoter of International Men’s Day? Or that we ran a special social media campaign for the month of November?
Did you also know that International Men’s day is truly international, with a massive following in nations such as India and Indonesia?
We had nearly 400,000 people worldwide interact with us about International Men’s Day, and we reached into the homes of almost 7 million people.
This is not to mention the success of hashtags on twitter related to International Men’s Day, which combined to be nearly 20,000 posts.
What about news articles? Did you know that there were over 300 news articles related to International Men’s Day during the month of November?
This is not to say that it was all roses and champagne, far from it.
York University cancelled a planned event on International Men’s Day that was to cover the issues of male suicide, lower life expectancy, and poorer education outcomes because of a petition that sought its cancellation.
Engagement with International Men’s Day in Australia, the UK, and the USA was quite poor with a fair proportion of the digital content mocking or ridiculing the day and its intentions, whilst many chose to completely ignore the day.
What is the reason for this divide? Even further than that, what is the underlying reason for so many of the issues that International Men’s Day seeks to address?
Ironically, it’s the same thing that many women are campaigning against.
Our society has very definite ideas about masculinity and femininity; that is, what it means to be a man or a woman.
When you step outside those boundaries, you are attacked. Viciously, callously, without remorse. Male or female, it doesn’t matter… you have a dictated role to play, and if you refuse, you will pay the price.
We see it when a man is expected by society to be the breadwinner and the major income earner, the career man who beats a path through to the top regardless of the cost.
We feel it when we are told that strong emotions are “girly” and that crying is a sign of weakness.
We experience it when a mate, a father, a brother, a son commits suicide, because he couldn’t measure up to the standards that our society puts upon him.
I have experienced these things. I’m sure you have too.
International Men’s Day is not a day for us to beat our chests and declare that we are men, and we deserve to be on top! No, it is instead a day for us to stand up, and to tear down the false assumptions and dangerous ideas that our society has about what it means to be a man, and to instead replace it with the truth.
A day when we replace “lust for power” with “lust for life”.
A day when we replace “financial provider” with “committed partner and parent”.
A day when we replace “unmoveable rock” with “genuine heart”.
We cannot bring about these changes by tearing own those who speak against men, International Men’s Day, or masculinity.
Instead we need to show them that we are more than the caricature that society says we are, that we are better than that. Being a man is about far, far more than your bank balance and your conquests in life, and it is in moving outside of those boundaries that others will begin to see us for who we really are.
Fathers. Husbands. Brothers. Uncles. Grandfathers. Sons.
Men who live, love, and laugh.
Men who work, wonder, and weep.
Men who, above all else, simply want to be treated as equals in the human race, and give the opportunity to be individuals with all of our strengths and weaknesses.
We’ll never bring about this recognition and treatment while we tear one another down.
This is not about man versus woman.
This week your lovework is to speak up about what it means for you to be a man. Don’t do it by putting down anyone else, but instead by speaking about your passions… what drives you, and what gets you out of bed in the morning. What moves your heart, and what makes you weep.
How is this lovework? Well, the less we men are treated as carbon copies of one another and the more that we are seen to be the individuals that we are, the more likely we are to be treated as such. The more that we speak about what excites us without attacking others, the more likely others are to share their passions with us, and join us in ours. It is in this that relationships are born and can deepen. And I don’t know a single man who couldn’t do with a few more friends.
Yours for the celebrating true masculinity,
Ben is a father of four and a devoted husband who hails from Armidale in rural NSW. He is currently studying ministry and is a keen advocate for men’s issues at a local, national, and international level.