19 November sees International Men’s Day roll around again. And, no doubt, we will be treated to the same well-worn line of, “Oh, isn’t every day International Men’s Day?”
Oh, how we’ll chortle, while gently acknowledging International Women’s Day (8 March, in case you were wondering).
OK, yes, it’s true that, on average, men are paid significantly better and hold more senior positions at work. That’s some advantage.
But then should we add: “Everyday men also die younger, suffer worse health and take their own lives at a higher rate than women”?
And when we hear a hackneyed call for someone to “man up”, should we be sarcastically asking for clarification of exactly what facet of being a man they would like “upped”? The stoicism but not the suicide?
Personally, I think getting into a debate that pitches men against women isn’t helpful. It’s too easy to be drawn into circular arguments that not only fail to change opinions but also waste precious time when we could be doing something more constructive.
As fathers, we have a vital role to play in our children’s lives. We can provide an alternative perspective – and hopefully, that will help our children grow into rounded adults who can make the world a better place.
It’s about accentuating the positive. I’ll admit it, I’m not sure I’m the best role model for my son; I know I have my failings. But at least I can try and help him find role models who will guide him to become all he can be.
Let’s be clear: millions of men do great things in this world every day. Yes, there are also men who don’t and unfortunately, they are the ones who often make the headlines.
So on International Men’s Day, let’s turn the spotlight away from the bad apples (see my previous blog on one Donald Trump…). Let’s instead focus on the fathers and step-fathers, husbands and partners who every day sacrifice their needs for the betterment of their families, loved ones and wider society.
The call to action of International Men’s Day is spot on: “Today, let’s celebrate men and boys!”
Whoa, hold there a second, though… Speaking as a father, it’s not just boys. After all, I have three children and two of them are daughters.
I want all of my children to have the same opportunities in life, regardless of what sort of chromosomes they possess. They should be able to appreciate, work with and interact with the opposite gender without relying on age-old clichés to form an opinion.
If I can help them do that, then maybe sometime in the future we won’t need an International Men’s Day.
It really will be every day.