International Men’s Day (‘IMD’) in India
International Men’s Day (‘IMD) will take place on 19 November. After knowing this many of us must be wondering why men need a special day when every day can be considered as male. This type of official day recognizes that men can also be ‘Underdog’, and so this celebration may raise the eyebrow of many. However, men also need support and celebration, just like other ‘obvious’ groups.
History of International Men’s Day
In the early 1990s, the International Men’s Day programs were organized by Thomas Oster, director of the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies, in association with several organizations in the US, Australia and Malta in the month of February. He successfully held these events for two years, but his 1995 effort was poorly attended. He then discontinued plans to continue the celebration. Australia then pulled out of the celebration, making Malta the only country to continue the celebration.
Prof. Jerome Teelucksingh from the University of the West Indies revived International Men’s Day in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago. He felt that despite there being a day for the father, there was no day to celebrate manhood for men who had no children, or who were young boys and teenagers. He understood the importance of positive male role models in everyone’s life and society, as his father was a classic example for him. He chose to celebrate International Men’s Day on 19 November. November 19 was the day of his father’s birthday, as well as the day his country was united due to a local football team’s effort to qualify for the World Cup.
Since then International Men’s Day has served to promote positive aspects of male identity. Which is based on the theory that men respond more constructively to positive role models compared to negative gender stereotyping. The day is not to compete with International Women’s Day, but to highlight the importance of men’s physical and mental health and positive masculinity.
What is International Men’s Day (‘IMD’)?
We celebrate International Men’s Day to deal with the consequences of gender roles and expectations. For example,
- It is generally expected that being physically muscular, men should only take responsibility to protect the nation or people from violence or war and therefore it is also expected that men should sacrifice their lives only for this.
- It is a misconception that men are not good at childcare and therefore their role in childcare is minimal.
- Similarly, because of their masculinity, people generally do not consider men to be victims of domestic violence.
We celebrate International Men’s Day to fulfil the following objectives. These objectives apply equally to all men and boys, irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status:
- To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but every day, working-class men who are living decent, honest lives.
- To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment
- To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
- To highlight discrimination against males; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
- To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential.
Why do we need to celebrate International Men’s Day (‘IMD’)?
- Men are diverse
Like women, men are diverse. When we think of men, we create a stereotype image of men in our minds based on the image of men shown in movies. Therefore, we usually see men as an image of an angry young man or a macho man. However, it is not difficult to break this stereotype if someone is willing to take a look at the social media pages. If you do this, you will find that men are diverse – from Super Alpha to Super Beta and all levels between and around.
Men in today’s society are still trapped by the threat of stereotypical images. This conservative social image of a man is also called toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity creates a very dangerous social environment for men. Combining masculinity with toxicity shows most of the good traits of men in a negative way, even if they are not toxic.
What is toxic masculinity?
Toxic masculinity is a situation in which men are forced to become a human being with a lack of empathy. Men are encouraged to believe that this deficiency is a characteristic of manhood. In addition, the display of physical prowess is portrayed as a benchmark for being a man.
- Everyone needs a positive self-image
For most men, the image of their identity is the same as what other people think or say about them. Especially if a man lacks confidence then it becomes very easy for another person to impose his/her personal view on that man. This is a very dangerous situation for a man with low self-confidence because he feels negative about himself based on the negative view of another person. In such mental conditions, men are forced to ignore their feelings and avoid accepting their vulnerability. “Boys don’t cry” is one of the most dangerous quotes like this in society.
The adoption of the image of an alpha male by some men temporarily gives them superficial confidence, and they can hide their fear and low confidence from others. By adopting an alpha male image, they assume that there are other people who are inferior to them in every aspect of life. This feeling gives them artificial inner security. Man’s need for his permanent identity is very essential for his mental peace. Therefore every human has a real and fundamental need to find his identity and define his/her place in the world and It applies to all men and women.
- Men need more sympathy
As a human being, we need to extend sympathy to those who feel the least need of it. As a citizen, father, brother, son, etc., men are under tremendous pressure to meet the expectations of society.
Also, it is no secret that men are struggling in every aspect of their lives. For example, boys are struggling academically, jails are full of men, and suicide is the most common cause of death for men under 50.
Do we need to ask ourselves why is this so?
This is because society has maintained a fixed gender role for men, and for this role men are expected to be strong and lacking in emotion. For example, after the birth of their child, society expects a man to immediately go to work to support his child and wife, even if he wants to spend his time loving his newborn child. Even after making all such sacrifices, people make sarcastic remarks on men that it is very easy for men to come to work after the birth of their child.
It is very difficult for men in our society to show that they too are sensitive and full of emotions. Therefore, it is good to have a day that celebrates male diversity and which reminds us that not all men should be imprisoned in stereotypically determined gender roles.
Society needs to provide young boys with an alternative, compassionate and more liberated version of men to be considered their real role model.
- To overcome the stereotype threat
According to our society, the following things make you a man: men should be muscular, they should have beards and moustaches, and a man should go into the army and protect the country from the enemy.
According to our society, if a man lacks even one of these, then he is not fit to be called a man.
This image is suitable only for those working in defense services. Therefore most of the men are not considered as men.
This is the stereotype threat we want to overcome. As we said above, men are diverse. There are many examples where men have done a very good job for our country despite not being in the defense services. For example, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Mahatma Gandhi, etc.
These gentlemen are ideal not only for us but for the whole world.
The stereotypical image of men created by society hurts Indian men a lot. Due to this stereotypical image, Indian men are currently facing the worst discrimination in history where they are being systematically discriminated by the government and judiciary. It is sad to see, for example, that men in India never get custody of their children. Similarly, rape of a man by a woman is not a crime under Indian law. Although the percentage of female rapists is small, male victims in India never get justice. While it is well known that men and women suffer equally from domestic violence, Indian law does not recognize domestic violence against men.
These are issues that we need to address on Men’s Day.
- Challenge the stereotypical image of male and gender tropes
IMD may also challenge other narratives. It would also be wrong to say that all men should reject masculinity because it would be like believing that all men needed to have beards and moustaches and should go into the army.
We should demand the following:
Men should have parenting rights.
Men are also victims of domestic violence. They too should get justice.
Men also have mental health issues. We should also pay attention to them.
Many men are leading lives of quiet desperation. Only showing toxic masculinity creates prejudice and creates an environment where people do not help the person in real need. Every man is different and we must learn to celebrate these differences.
- Provide role models to the younger generation and provide them options
IMD can help society eliminate stereotypical threats on men. Men can be lonely and vulnerable just like any other sex.
In our society, we can find many men who are of different shapes and sizes, but they have done a great job for the country. These people can be role models for the younger generation. IMD is about celebrating male diversity to give vulnerable men real options and positive hope for the future.
International Men’s Day activities you can do
- Donate to men’s NGOs: Unlike other NGOs, NGOs working for men’s health and rights do not receive any funding from the government. Therefore, most of the issues related to men are never acknowledged. Please donate to such NGO.
- Learn more about lesser-known influential men: Learn more about men who are doing social work in your area and help their cause.
- Check-in with the men in your life: Building a positive relationship with men is a lofty goal, but it has a humble beginning. Check-in with your male family members and friends and see how they are doing. If we are happy at home, then it is half the battle.
Why we love International Men’s Day
1. There is a day to celebrate all men
The general sentence that “every day is International Men’s Day” may contain some truth. But the fact is that not all men are celebrated the same way. International Men’s Day reminds us that there are so many different types of men in the world, and they all deserve a voice.
2. This is a day to help people
Men face a lot of pressure in society – for example, it is expected that they have to be the provider, and they have to refrain from asking for help or share their feelings. International Men’s Day is about removing these problems and redefining masculinity.
3. It’s all about gender equality
Gender equality is always a worthy goal, and International Men’s Day reminds us to make special efforts for positive relationships across the entire gender spectrum.
Here are some inspirational quotes by famous personalities on this day:
“I am not a handsome guy, but I can give my hand-to-someone who needs help. Beauty is in the heart not in the face.” – APJ Abdul Kalam
“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” – Nelson Mandela
Men, money and materials cannot by themselves bring victory or freedom. We must have the motive-power that will inspire us to brave deeds and heroic exploits.- Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” ? Abraham Lincoln
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. – Albert Einstein
“Man’s duty is to try and endeavour, success depends upon chance and environments.” –Bhagat Singh
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ”.-Martin Luther King Junior
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. –Gautam Buddha
“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” –Barack Obama
“Don’t count the days; make the days count.”-Mohammad Ali