Do we need International Men's Day? Debate breaks out

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor

A debate has broken out over the necessity of International Men’s Day, which falls today.

International Men's Day (IMD) is an international awareness event celebrated annually on 19 November.

It focuses on six pillars: highlighting discrimination against men; supporting male health issues; improving gender relations; promoting gender equality; celebrating male contributions to society; and promoting male role models.

But, some are opposed to the idea of a day dedicated to celebrating men, including comedian Andrew Doyle.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain (GMB) today, Doyle condemned gender-specific awareness days altogether.

International Men's Day aims to bring awareness to issues affecting the male population. [Photo: Getty]

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He said: “We’re obsessed with the idea of sex, gender, we’re pigeon-holing. it says let’s focus on this aspect of our personality rather than what brings us together.

Actor Tamer Hassan, another guest on this morning’s programme, contested: “Would you look at it - you have Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, does that separate us or does that bring us together as parents?”

Doyle responded that Father’s Day and International Men’s Day seemed like they were merely a “reaction” to Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile, GMB host Piers Morgan appeared to be embracing the holiday – using it as an opportunity to ask men to contribute their “best things about being a man”, and women to contribute what they liked about men.

Commenting on Twitter, users gave a mixed response.

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Some were in favour of the day as an important opportunity to discuss male-specific issues – including the higher suicide rate and homelessness among men – and to tackle stigma facing masculinity.

Yet, among the day’s opponents were those suggesting men have enjoyed a privileged position in society for most of history – and so do not need a specific day.

The debate: Should there be an International Men’s Day?

Yahoo UK put the question out to our followers on social media, and received a mixed response.

One respondent, Matilda, 28, felt the awareness day was theoretically a good idea – but had lost its way. “International Men's Day tackles some really important issue that affect men and it's right that these get some time in the spotlight,” she said. “My problem is that the day has been co-opted by some antifeminists who try and use it as a springboard to air their anti-equality views.”

“I’m here for the equality. Women get a day so men should too. Women don’t need to have more to be equal, they literally just need to be the same and stuff like this is the start of that,” said Clare, 36.

Yet Orianna, 26, was staunchly against the idea. “Every day is International Men’s Day,” she said.

Among male respondents, there was a surprising amount of antipathy towards the day.

“Personally I'm not a fan of 'days' as it feel sometimes it gives people an excuse to only focus on specific important issues for a very limited period of time when really it should be normalised and something present in all our conversations all year round,” said Richard, 40.

While he agreed it was important to draw attention to issues such as higher suicide rates among men and the effects of toxic masculinity, he argued as a society we still have a long way to go before we should celebrate 'Men’s day'.”

Another respondent, Craig, 31, added, “We probably don't need International Men's Day, really. I think a celebratory day is great for races, sexes and groups that historically have faced persecution or marginalisation, but historically white men have clearly faced extremely little persecution throughout the world.

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“However I can understand why some of my fellow contemporaries in that category might feel discriminated against by not having days of celebration in their honour - I always try to remind them of our lack of persecution through history. This also requires some responsibility on the part of those with racial or gender celebratory days to recognise that the honour recognised their emancipation from persecution and discrimination, not that they should necessarily receive favourable treatment in society today”

“If [the day] is to celebrate the successes of men throughout history in terms of economic, industrial and scientific advances then I think it is entirely pointless. These successes are a product of the human race in its entirety, regardless of gender,” offered Tam, 31. “Whereas, if it is to raise awareness of high suicide rates and under-recognised mental health issues, then fine – but it doesn’t seem quite the right label.”

However, another respondent, Ryan, 43, was in favour. He said: “I feel in a modern world that rightly exposes people for all sorts of negative behaviours and attitudes, that there are many good people in the world (of all descriptions) and to have a day that celebrates positive male role-models (as another day does for their female counterparts) is not a bad thing. Especially in this word of political correctness.”

“Of course there should be a Male Awareness Day. There are so many important issues affecting men specifically – like the much higher suicide rate and the pressures young boys face to be a certain type of masculine – and that deserves discussion,” added Matt, 29.