The International Men's Day (IMD) is celebrated every November 19 to acknowledge the contribution of men and young boys to the society. And why not? Man are the ‘gender' that has apparently developed human civilisation. Be it the creation of the greatest empires of all times, to the most important scientific discoveries, men have played a pivotal role in almost all spheres of life and their contribution must be appreciated without critically engaging into the nature of these achievements. Right? WRONG!
International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated to focus primarily on the rights and emancipation of women. Women, even today are oppressed across the globe. The institution of family, the patriarchal state and the mode of production that the society thrives on are controlled by men. This makes IWD a relevant day to be celebrated, while the IMD is celebrated to acknowledge the contribution of men to the aforementioned institutions like the military, the corporate world, family - institutions that thrive on the exploitation of women.
Acknowledging the “contribution” and “achievement” of men in these fields means acknowledging and ‘celebrating' the patriarchal nature of these institutions. This piece is, as I'm sure many men would call “anti-man”; it is a critical evaluation of the celebration. The early 2000s saw the rise of Men's rights movement across the globe, also called “Menism” that discussed domestic violence against men, registration of fake rape and harassment case against the man and general issues related to discrimination against men. Such a movement rose in response to the feminist movement, which, as a matter of fact, should be associated with destroying the patriarchy within the socio-economic structure, but focuses on a ‘woman's identity' and the absorption of women in the ‘mainstream' society by giving them incentives like voting rights which is patriarchal in nature.
Ever wondered why is Jordan Peterson always able to shut liberal feminist journalists in every interview? Because the feminists focus too much on ‘women' as an oppressed ‘identity'! they claim how most of the women are paid less, how most of the women are sexually harassed (which is true) and in response, Peterson mentions how the number of men in prison is more, how the men suicide rate is more, how most of the men fight and die in wars (which is also true). Both of these arguments are flawed because none of the parties is focusing on material power that is patriarchal in nature which determines everything.
Men fight more in wars and die because traditionally, men have been looked upon as naturally stronger sex (there are physiological debates among scholar); and since men have traditionally controlled the productive activities and political power, they have had an ‘incentive' in fighting for it. Since men enroll more in the military, their probability of dying increases. Same is the case with suicide and conviction. Since the man is supposed to earn ‘the bread', which is a patriarchal assumption base on material reality, the possibility of a man committing suicide or theft (even murder or burglary) is more as compared to a woman. There are multiple reasons for the high rate of male suicide - one of the most important reasons is socio-economic deprivation.
It is this liberal argument that leads to contention between masculine identity and the feminine identity. Since most of our focus is on ‘women', the liberals preach that ‘men' are ignored. This gives rise to the idea, that it is important to celebrate and thank men for leading families, the armies and other institutions (social, political and economic).
It is the nature of this celebration that reinforces gendered roles. It romanticizes the contribution of women for taking care of her children and the family.
Similarly, Men's Day will romanticise the role of a father for protecting the family and ‘for providing'. By stating this criticism, I do not suggest that men aren't exploited. Yes, men are exploited too. But what we need to maintain is that it is the structure of patriarchy that is oppressive. Masculinity isn't oppressive in itself; it is the structure that oppresses both men and women. Nobody needs a ‘Day' for the acknowledgement of the fulfilment of ‘gendered roles', it is the destruction of the patriarchal structure that is needed.