International Men’s Day

November 19 is International Men’s Day, which has the following objectives:

  • Celebrate manhood and the wonderful positive and valuable contributions our men, young men, and boys make to our communities and to our societies
  • Promote and Support gender equality, encouraging men to address responsibly and positively the challenges facing them in society
  • Demonstrate strength of character and courage in meeting the challenges that men face in society and in contributing to building stronger and better communities, where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential.
  • Highlighting positive male role models, not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.

This is a classic example of a men’s initiative that appears on first glance to be quite reasonable, but on further inspection is shown to be less so. I was about to spell out why this is the case, until I followed the link on their site to Michael Flood’s critique, which does the job just fine.

36 thoughts on “International Men’s Day

  1. I dont think organisers of IMD even think about feminism, let alone “run counter” to it. Its not on their radar, let alone it being thier “true agenda” as you would have it. Of couse anyone can celebrate the day.

    However it IS Michael Flood’s feminist agenda to try and mischaracterise and denigrate IMD, and indeed stop the celebration from growing.

    1. Perhaps not thinking about feminism sufficiently is part of IMD’s problem.

      I’d suggest the IMD website readers certainly do think about feminism as the last two posts in the forum are clearly anti-feminist:
      The importance of dating on your own terms as a man
      How Feminism ruins the lives of men

      1. Lol, thats a comments blog, not an official statement of the website. Any random person can come along and post, though posts like that will be moderated when eventually checked. Hmmmm, as you didnt highlight one good thing that is on that website I now am getting a picture on your monocentric angle. Think I’ll leave you with it.

    1. As an academic researching in the area of masculinities, I have been familiar with Flood’s work for some years. For the most part I find his analysis entirely appropriate.

      By highlighting “bad male behaviours” we allow room for better ones. I do not see Flood as anti-male at all, rather pro-better ways of being male. Anyone with a problem with this stance clearly has their own bias and agenda.

  2. Here is a retraction by a prominant media outlet after Flood provided them with false facts:

    “Editor’s note; This story was amended on December 3, 2008 to acknowledge an error made by the authors of the White Ribbon Foundation report. The original story reported, in part, that “one in every three boys believe it is not a big deal to hit a girl”. In fact, the author of the report, Dr Michael Flood, has advised the ABC that this finding was in fact wrong. Dr Flood’s team transposed information in compilation of that part of the report. The original report by the National Crime Prevention 2001 study upon which much of the White Ribbon report was is based made no reference to “boys hitting girls” and referred only to “girls hitting boys”.

  3. In closing I’d suggest that feminists such as Flood would be helped by understanding that men’s and father’s rights groups are constituted of a variety of masculinities (plural) and not just one single male profile (ie. stereotype) such as ‘conservative patriachal anti-feminists’. The latter is a monocentric and negative stereotype Flood has gone to great lengths to portray throughout his academic writings. In reality there are views of every kind in such groups and until the Floods of the world appreciate thier true diversity there will be no progression. There is no credibility in claiming that a plurality of masculinities exist only outside of mens and fathers coalitions, or that a plurality of masculinities exists only in the thinking of pro-feminist men.

    International Men’s Day is for celebrationg, among other things, the pluraliy of positive masculinities. The bus is departing, you are free to stay on the curb if you choose.

    1. “There is no credibility in claiming that a plurality of masculinities exist only outside of mens and fathers coalitions, or that a plurality of masculinities exists only in the thinking of pro-feminist men.”

      I would mostly agree: in my own work, for example, I show how there are diverse masculinities even within a relatively focused constituency such as the Christian men’s movement(s). However, even in the plural masculinities performed within men’s and father’s rights groups, I identify a *tendency* towards a feminist backlash, either from a proactive anti-feminist political stance, or from an absence of political analysis which results in a failure to identify patriarchy or the assumption that it is in some way resolved (implicit in any “gender equality” discourse derived from men’s groups).

      That said, I thank you for your input: I’m not on the curb, just a different bus to you 😉

  4. Here’s a crazy idea: why can’t IMD be something which reflects the diversity of viewpoints? Why does it have to be a day when we all buy into some political agenda, be it anti-feminist or not?

    You celebrate IMD in your way, I’ll do so in mine. There are blantant androgynists who celebrate IWD, does that invalidate the others who do so because they have non-androgynist points to make, or maybe even no point to make other than celebrating their gender? Of course not.

    There are worse things in the world than taking a day to think about how your gender affects your life. Will it lead all to a revelation of the vast disadvantages women face on daily basis? No, not all, but it may get some thinking about gender a little more.

    In my opinion, it’s a mistake to criticize or lionize IMD, it will be the sum of what we individually make it. For me, I’m in to make it a day which recognizes the aims EXPLICITLY STATED above, not some crytptologist’s view that “the organizers of IMD don’t mean what they say.”

    1. Clearly, it’s your business if you want to take everything at face value; however, history shows us that many seemingly mainstream political statements can conceal rather unsavoury undercurrents (whether proactive or unwitting). It is not a “cryptologist’s view” to acknowledge this, rather an analytical view: it is precisely a lack of appropriate analysis that often makes men’s movement discourse so problematic.

  5. I note there has been a formalization of International Mens Day Objectives here:

    In November 2009 Dr. Teelucksingh and other members of the IMD Coordination Committee formally ratified the core objectives of International Men’s Day. The Objectives were ratified to protect the central values of IMD and to offer a reliable reference point for future celebrants.


    The ‘6 Pillars’ of International Men’s Day

    1. To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but everyday, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.

    2. To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.

    3. To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.

    4. To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.

    5. To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.

    6. To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential.

    1. The inclusion of spiritual wellbeing is new. Lets hope a bit of Gelfer-inspired spiritual thinking is introduced into that mix.

      Re the “undercurrents” I agree there is usually a lot more than what we see at face value. Take for instance popular championing of the notion of equality, which for most advocates is little more than a euphemism for gender narcissism.

      Regarding any suggested unsavoury undercurrents of International Men’s Day, I’d challenge anyone to show that such elements, if they exist, are a primary force in the event. Michael Flood tried to take on this task and failed miserably- for example he wrongly denigrated IMD participants as anti-feminist men’s rights advocates (which is utterly and demonstrably false); that the day was simply to copy International Women’s Day in the sense of ‘me-too-ism’ (which is utterly and demonstrably false, as IMD has different objectives), and numerous other fabricated ‘unsavoury’ characterisations which say more about Flood’s fantasies about men than about some reality.

      Point is we must remain mindful of our guiding fictions….. we will see negativity when we look with a negative eye, and likewise the positive.

      1. In terms of the positive, what I *do* like is the reference to “working class men”. I believe class awareness can function as a bonding agent across multiple contentious sites, such as gender, race and physical/mental ability. For example, it can be useful to look at the much-discussed “boy problem” via this lens: it is not boys who are failing, rather underprivileged children (boys and girls, black and white, to varying degrees). Class provides an opportunity for alliance between various marginalized groups: if it is difficult for gender-focused groups (of any persuasion) to deal with this issue, one must question what they have to complain about.

  6. BTW, is there a coherent charter of core objectives guiding IWD? I am curious to compare those of IWD with IMD.

  7. Sirji

    celeberate if you want and do not celeberate if you do not want who cares two hoots to some stupid michael flood .

    IMD organisers including myself never asked for permission we are going to celeberate

  8. The following is the latest interview with IMD founder Jerome Teelucksingh:

    Interview with Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh (DJT)
    by Jason Thompson (JT) December 2009

    JT: I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about men and about International Men’s Day so that people may better understand your rationale for creating this day.

    Part of your rationale for creating International Men’s Day is to provide a platform whereby society can highlight examples of men who are honorable, reliable and are oriented to the betterment of community and family. Indeed we could say these aims would constitute a betterment of oneself. This goal is welcomed by people who feel jaded by constant media portrayals of men behaving badly. Have you received feedback about how readily these positive role models have been welcomed by men, and also what benefit this reception might have for society as a whole?

    DJT: We must be mindful that change will not occur immediately. I see IMD as the beginning of a long journey of healing. The entire society will benefit from a more understanding and caring son, father or husband. During the past decade, persons who have observed IMD were sowing seeds of acceptance, tolerance and peace. In 2009 those seeds finally grew into sturdy plants. The next generation of men and women must nurture these plants and ensure they continue to blossom and bear fruit.
    I have been receiving telephone calls, letters and emails from men and women indicating that they are glad that positive male role models are finally being highlighted. Some persons have wished that soldiers and countries at war would stop fighting for one day –IMD. Others believe that prisoners in jail would reflect on their wrongdoings on IMD and do soul-searching and ask for forgiveness. One woman from Africa, in 2008, asked that I remember her son who was mentally challenged. It is these ‘forgotten’ persons, the emotionally and mentally imprisoned, who should also be included in IMD.

    JT: When Barack Obama was promoting his election campaign he stressed his desire to overcome divisions and unite Democrats, independents, Republicans, young, old, rich, poor, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled because, he states, “one thing I know, from traveling 46 states this campaign season, is that we are not as divided as our politics suggest.” Is your vision of International Men’s Day likewise open to all men and women to participate?

    DJT: IMD is open for everyone. Once we begin to exclude others the men’s movement will return to its fragmented state and IMD will become stunted. A few years ago an elderly man asked me if IMD was only for perfect persons who are blameless and faultless. I simply replied, “Then I am not worthy to be part of IMD because I have many faults.” Once we can acknowledge our shortcomings then we can find solutions and be on that path for wholeness. I am always wary of the promises of politicians during their campaigns. They preach unity and have grandiose ideas merely to win votes. However, after attaining power they conveniently forget their promises and ignore divisions. An overwhelming majority of the world’s leaders are men. So it is hoped that IMD will touch the lives of political leaders and transform their values and outlook. Thus, IMD has the potential to enter the political arena and promote good governance, eliminate discrimination and allow for equitable distribution of resources.

    JT: An Australian sociologist has posed a theory that IMD is a desire by men to mimic or imitate International Women’s Day which he disparages as a self-centered “Me-Too-ism”. This is clearly an erroneous view when one realizes that IWD and IMD promote different aims both in their stated objectives and in practical observations, though perhaps the objectives occasionally intersect on points such as the promoting of equality. Unlike IWD which focuses heavily on women’s emancipation from oppression, IMD seems predominately focused on celebrating and promoting positive male role models and other issues unique to men’s experiences. Would you consider this to be an accurate view, and could you explain a little more about the differences between the two days?

    DJT: IMD was not merely included on calendars to correct a gender imbalance. IMD has a deeper meaning. The day is designed to create solidarity among males and bridge the gender gap. IMD is unique because women have promoted this day and willingly participated in IMD activities. The success of IMD is the fact that women’s groups have welcomed this day. Probably in the future the approach of IMD could be adopted or modified by IWD. Both days strengthen and empower men and women, but we must not allow women to portray men as the ‘enemy’ and vice versa. The long gender war must come to an end. There has been too much sadness, single-parent families due to divorces and too many victims.

    JT: Among your IMD Objectives you allude to the media focus on sportsmen as perhaps too narrow an image for exemplifying the myriad of roles men are required to play. I take you to mean that men cannot get through a hard day’s work by the use of a football, nor cook a family meal with a cricket bat, i.e. that we need role models for the workplace, home, family care, service to society, marriage, schooling, responsible socializing and so on. While we can agree that team sports teach excellent teamwork skills that can be utilized in other areas of life, what effect do you think it has on boys and men who have only sportsmen and the competitive sports attitude to guide them through community, work and family relationships?

    DJT: If only sportsmen are role models and this ‘sports attitude’ exists then there will not be the holistic and balanced development of boys and men. Secondly, boys and men with other talents or who are living decent lives would be ignored. Even more dangerous is the situation when these sporting icons fail. During the past few years some disgraced athletes have been found to use steroids. The most recent example of this fall from grace is the revelation that Tiger Woods, the golfing legend, had extramarital affairs. What would be the effect on those who admired and respected these sporting heroes?
    The competitive sports attitude may also negatively impact on work and family life if it leads some people to believe they must always be ‘winners’ who achieve more than other family members or co-workers. Such an attitude could be an obstacle for projects which require teamwork and building a network of support systems.
    But it is important to put these few concerns in context and say that sport should not be condemned because it has the potential to encourage friendships, teamwork, physical health, bonding between fathers and sons, and promote excellence among athletes. Sport should be encouraged as one of many life enhancing roles.

    JT: You mention the practice of stereotyping as something that the concept and themes of IMD are designed to eliminate. What in your view are some of the problems stereotyping creates, and do you feel there are certain aspects of men’s potential, or indeed certain kinds of men who are routinely marginalized by this practice?

    DJT: Some of the problems created by stereotyping is that it creates a significant amount of emotional and physical stress for men. For example, there might be male teenagers who like cooking and could become great chefs but their fathers discouraged them from cooking because that culture believed that women are to cook and prepare the meals. Or suppose society expects men to be breadwinners in the family and a father become unemployed then this creates undue pressure on him to maybe seek illegal means to support his family. The media images of violent men have unfortunately contributed to the stereotyping of men.

    JT: This year 2009 saw equal numbers of women organizing and participating in IMD events. I’m thinking now of Marie Clarence who inaugurated IMD in Hungary; women and their organisations in South Africa; Lana Chikhladze who organized a celebration in Georgia; Diane Sears who is the main promoter of the event in the U.S.A; Uma Challa who with the help of women’s organisations such as All India Forgotten Women Hyderabad, Mothers And Sisters Initiative Delhi, and All India Mother In Law Protection Forum Nagpur organized and sponsored several events which led to the whole of India becoming aware of IMD. And of course we can’t leave out the University of Kent women who in the U.K. last year conceived and held a charity IMD event to raise for men’s cancers. There were also numerous female attendees at many of the events and the interest from women has been to me a pleasant surprise. Have women been receptive and involved in IMD from the start, or is this a new development?

    DJT: Yes, from the start women have been involved. If you look at the photo of the first IMD in Trinidad you will see a woman in the audience. I believe that women across the world will soon understand that IMD will create better husbands and fathers. Many women have realized that IMD is not about female–bashing or condemning womanhood.

    JT: I’m sure many people may be curious about the organizational structure of IMD. In 2008 a group of international coordinators formed the first steering committee (yourself, Diane Sears, Uma Challa, Warwick Marsh, and myself) in order to disseminate information and assist in the organisation of world IMD observations. Regardless of this committee’s existence my understanding is that no single individual or group holds unique rights to nor ownership of IMD, except perhaps yourself who as the founder of the event holds a special understanding of it’s original and continuing goals. For the record can you confirm if the above conclusion is the prevailing one in your view i.e. that IMD belongs equally to everyone (or no one) and that any individual may start their own IMD event or committee without permission from a governing body- provided they adhere to the stated Objectives of IMD?

    DJT: Yes I agree that nobody has a monopoly over IMD. Yes, anyone could observe IMD without seeking permission but they should follow the 6 pillars of IMD. Upon these 6 pillars the men’s movement has the opportunity to build a powerful movement for positive social change. I could be considered the founder of this version of IMD on 19 November but we need to also acknowledge the pioneering efforts of persons and groups before 1999 who attempted to formulate a day for men. My role is marginal and I should not be the focus. The real heroes and heroines are the humble persons around the globe who have promoted IMD and demonstrated dedication and sacrifice for the past decade. They are the ones to be honoured. The steering committee of 2008 proved to be a powerful catalyst which contributed to the rapid spread of IMD.

    JT: Lastly is a question on spirituality which you have included at the end of objective #3 ‘To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual’. I was interested to read about the variety of religious organisations on the guest lists at your IMD observations in 2001 and 2002 which included representatives from the Raja Yoga Centre, Mormon Church, Pentecostal Church, Bahia faith, Kabir Panth, Californian Hindu Temple, Divine Life Society, and so on. This sets a good precedent for inclusiveness. On that basis I’m assuming by ‘spiritual’ you are not referring to a particular religious belief but rather to a subjective sense of wellbeing that comes from being able to freely practice one’s chosen form of spirituality, however one might define it. Is this the kind of way you might define spiritual health, or do you have an alternative definition?

    DJT: Yes, the sense of well-being refers to ‘spirituality’. There are persons who do not believe in God or a Creator as the mainstream religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam) but believe in a spiritual life-force. IMD was never meant to directly challenge the religious doctrines, condemn religious texts or cultural practices. The inclusion of the word ‘spirituality’ is again another effort to demonstrate that IMD is inclusive and not designed to exclude persons who have a different belief system.

    JT: What are the challenges facing IMD
    DJT: There is still a monumental task ahead. IMD has to be spread to all countries. The need to include indigenous groups and persons in rural areas without internet facilities are some of the challenges.

  9. As a senior mainstream media journalist of 30 years experience over five countries and also someone involved in non-radical aspects of the men’s movement promoting family values, healthy relating and parenting, I find the extremity of your anti-male views and bias quite extraordinary.

    The purpose of this site appears to be solely a vehicle to plug your book and your obvious deep-seated contempt of men. Are you so afraid to take even a look at the positive aspects of the men’s movement that benefit men and communities as a whole and which receive support from so many women’s groups?

    Many modern men’s groups do not support patriarchal values. Under those we are required to work ourselves to death with little time to spend with families and raising children. This is why so many women complain.

    Male politicians in a place of privelege may have power, but in my experience they have very little idea of what is happening for the working family men in the street and our very real issues. They do not represent us.

    As one quite bluntly but honestly pointed out to me, they mostly appease gender-political feminist concerns so they do not lose the female vote or incur feminist wrath.

    I wonder also why you do not have the courage to reveal yourself fully in your photo above. Are you afraid of looking people in the eye and being identified with your views?

    As regards “anti-feminist sentiment”, do you honestly believe that every aspect of feminism is good and pure and impervious to corruption? Do you believe that is the realm of men only?

    Do you think women are all impeccable at handling power responsibly and incapable of falling into agenda traps and self-serving interests the way some men have in the past?

    The articulate article below written by a woman in India illustrates how seriously so many women there have been disadvantaged by political groups run by radical feminist women bent on destroying men and families.

    Interestingly, her women’s groups ask for support from the supporters of International Men’s Day.

    And this link is to an academic paper by Professor Murray Straus, considered one of the world’s leading academic authorities and researchers on domestic violence.

    Backed up by another woman researcher, it tells how domestic violence industry statistics have become so extensively and massively distorted by long-term, ingrained feminist ideology, anti-male propaganda and an agenda of funding greed.

    So, Joseph, as an intelligent and fair man putting out information and viewpoint for public dissemination, do you have the courage and integrity as a writer to read these links ALL the way through without a biased mind?

    The distorted and deliberately skewed research methods and concealing of balanced statistics Prof Straus uncovers are the same methodology used by Michael Flood in his compiling of the White Ribbon Day study into Australian domestic violence.

    Mr Flood earns his livelihood from writing those sorts of studies, he has a vested financial interest and an agenda to maintain his standing within the feminist political community.

    Or are you suggesting he is an unbiased, free agent writing in a balanced way?

    1. Clearly your significant experience as a journalist has not equipped you with the ability to read clearly: there is NOTHING in my work that is anti-male, rather anti-a certain way of doing masculinity (i.e. patriarchal). If you can’t unpack these two issues then you do not understand some of the most basic aspects of this debate.

      I am a man. I have two sons: the ONLY thing I’m interested in is seeing the role of men in society as more positive. But in order to find the positive, you have to first critique the negative. Again, basic stuff.

      I stand by everything I say about many men’s groups, who often don’t have the slightest idea of the implications of their project, despite their best intentions. If you actually read my book you would discover that: I make no apologies for promoting it.

      And what are you talking about with my photo? It’s just a photo! If you want to gaze directly into my eyes there’s another one in the “media images” section on the front page. Are you suggesting there is something underhand about all this and that I am trying to distance myself from it? Don’t be absurd. My point of view, identity, and methods are completely transparent: I even provide a postal address!

      So I don’t think I’ll follow your links for the time being and engage with this point by point. I don’t have a problem with bias: indeed, I think the idea of objectivity is a bit of a myth. HOWEVER, I do have a problem with people who don’t understand the nature of their bias: it’s about self-awareness of what we bring to the table in this discussion. Think on it, seriously.

  10. Subjectivity rules.

    Back to the topic at hand, I have some fascinating news; tens of thousands of people in scandanavia (all three countries) and also in South America have crashed the International Men’s Day guest-list for 2010. This has happened over a few recent weeks. I have never witnessed anything remotely like this avalanche of interest in an event, is a tipping point of some kind, the nature and motivation for which I’m not really clear. But happening it is.

    For anyone with an interest in mass sociological trends I recommend you tune in to this development. The spectacle reminds of Lake Ayre filling up once in 50 years.


    1. No doubt the awareness of the recent International Women’s Day created some momentum.

      Be careful about who you make alliances with. I know from our communications that your intentions are reasonable, but there are a lot of unsavoury views out there. There’s a danger of Mob Rule.

      Even the academic community has its oddities, such as Males Studies, which I recently mentioned:

  11. Indeed, there was a distinct spike of interest in IMD a few days before and after the celebration of Int Women’s Day. That spike was significantly larger this year than in any previous year. More interesting is that unlike previous years in which interest in International Men’s Day disintegrated shortly after Women’s Day, this year the interest has not only remained but is climbing weeks after the event. In fact the graphical climb has been on since well before women’s day, going back to late last year.

    The spikes of interest in IMD happen around Int Women’s Day, Defenders of the Fatherland Day, Fathers Day, and mostly throughout the month of November culminating on the 19th IMD.

    This year the wane is not really a wane, with interest remaining very high continuously. Most of the new interest is generated from Latin America and in Scandanavia, but also other countries generally.

    As I said i’m not sure what to make of it. There is certainly a rising tide of “I’m sick of being hated for being male” which has become something of a chorus, but it is not only this. There are a complex of issues driving it and I’m yet to discriminate each factor in terms of strength and importance in that complex.

    Several facebook sites have begun only in recent weeks, some with already over 1000 members, as well as blogs and forum discussions. Most of the interest is churning through private networking such as email.

    From what i can guage the stereotypical ‘men’s rights’ individual and attitude, along with it’s anti-feminist agenda is not forefront and center either. A portion are your ‘steak-eatin, man-up’ types, but again only a portion. Perhaps a majority are concerned with health issues, community problems such as drugs, violence etc and view this as a platform via which to address those issues.

    Your caution about the mob taking over this event is well taken. In this case I believe the masses are an extremely diverse group of men (and women) with diverse needs and there seems little chance of the usual hegemonies gaining adcendency. The diversity of masculinities, driven in part by a desire to see commonplace denigration of males replaced with something positive, is quite refreshing, actually!

    I hope that diversity remains.


    1. Well, a number of IMD aims are perfectly reasonable: it’s about how you frame them.

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting better men’s physical and mental health, better fathers, better work-life balance, boys doing better in education, etc. The problem lies in when these issues are blamed upon the gains of women, which unfortunately happens too often in these debates.

      IMD would work better if it could shut down this blaming wherever it occurs, and make it explicitly clear it is not welcome in IMD.
      IMD would work better if it made it clear that patriarchy and men’s power is something that all men have to own at some level, EVEN IF it doesn’t sit well with their personal experience as an individual man with seemingly little power.
      IMD would work better if it could communicate to it members that criticising certain ways of being a man is not anti-male, simply anti certain ways of being a man: the whole “misandry” chorus has this wrong (even the likes of Andrea Dworkin are not anti-male, rather anti certain masculine performances).

  12. IMD has ever blamed women for men’s health, education and other issues. There are isolated occurances of those voices but the majority voice is a completely positive one towards women and thier advances. Dr. Teelucksingh who started this day wanted it to be different from International Women’s day (which focusses heavily on blaming men for women’s problems) by stating he wished to reform masculinity in order to create better husbands, fathers, sons, and men generally. He explicitly stated that the day is not about women bashing:

    “IMD is unique because women have promoted this day and willingly participated in IMD activities. The success of IMD is the fact that women’s groups have welcomed this day. Probably in the future the approach of IMD could be adopted or modified by IWD. Both days strengthen and empower men and women, but we must not allow women to portray men as the ‘enemy’ and vice versa…. from the start women have been involved. If you look at the photo of the first IMD in Trinidad you will see a woman in the audience. I believe that women across the world will soon understand that IMD will create better husbands and fathers. Many women have realized that IMD is not about female–bashing or condemning womanhood.”

    His aim, which is being followed in practice by most of those observing the occasion, was to bridge the hatred between men and women. This may explain why IMD has been somewhat unpopular with men’s rights groups, many of whom have dismissed the day.

    Like in feminist ranks there are occasional militant voices but I’m pleased to note these are a minority. As for the various ideas about patriarchy it seems there are almost as many views on that as there are IMD participants, so doubt it will ever generate a binary discussion “for” or “against” a particular definition or view of it such as, for instance, a feminist ‘patriarchy theory’ only. The day is not intended by anyone to gain or consolidate power by men over women but rather to focus on promoting positive male role models, not in the sense of the cliche’d ‘male head of the family and society’ but rather male role models for child-care, cooking, house cleaning, responsible socializing, work, looking after one’s own health, and etc. The day has a broader set of interests than the reductionist and stereotypical question “are men boss or arent they” although this is one reasonable question to explore as one of a larger multitude of questions.


    1. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t doubt the intentions of events such as IMD are often worthy; it’s the effects that often concern me.

      If the gap between men’s rights activists and IMD continues to occur/widen (either by men’s rights activists being ambivalent about IMD, or IMD making it clear that men’s rights “blaming” tactics are unwelcome), then no doubt my concerns will be lessened.

      I don’t think IMD or, indeed, any type of “men’s movement” is inherently problematic; it is only particular messages within such movements that are problematic.

      Indeed (believe it or not, I am an optimist at heart), I can quite easily imagine a positive “men’s movement” that could in a generation or two overturn the problems surrounding sex and gender that go back to the beginning of humanity. I suspect it won’t be called a “men’s movement” though, rather a “people’s movement” that operates through a genuine mutuality between men and women (and those who identify otherwise).

      1. Joseph,
        A ‘people’s movement’ is a wonderful idea. Hopefully international Men’s and Women’s Days will atrophy as personhood emerges. I look forward to that dream becoming a reality!!


  13. BTW, my comment further above that many men are “sick of being hated for being male” is NOT referring to the valid criticising of certain problematic ways of being a man (which observation I agree is not anti-male). Such a view would be to miss the true concern of this chorus of men’s voices.

    The larger concern by these men (and increasingly by many women for men) is wholly about the practice of stereotyping ALL males as violent, unfeeling, unreliable, selfish, stupid, power-hungry, domineering etc, which has become world culture. I think this is a vital distinction to make if one wishes to understand the complaint “sick of men being hated for being male”- i.e. there are millions of well behaved males who have reached the limit of being unfairly stereotyped as a badly-behaved ‘class’ when they are not, that somehow all men are guilty by association of being male.

    There needs to be more discussion about whether positive, well behaved equalitarian males are differentiated in the social imagination from those more negative examples of males/male behaviour, and it seems IMD is being used to highlight this reality.

    1. Agreed: although it is still very important for ALL males to be aware of tendencies towards being violent, unfeeling, unreliable, selfish, stupid, power-hungry, and domineering (I see all these functioning daily in my own behaviours!)

      Of course, women need to be aware of this too; men simply have a larger footprint with these issues for various reasons.


    Origins and Evolution: Perspectives of two International Days
    By Jason Thompson – 2010

    The observation of International Men’s and Women’s days involve numerous objectives, with both days highlighting issues considered unique to men or women. The following is not to be read as a comprehensive overview of both days but rather an attempt to highlight two central and rather different currents of IWD and IMD; women’s fight against oppression, and men’s attempts to promote positive male role models.
    There are several popular myths about the origins of International Women’s Day and after a survey of the current literature it seems the variety of accounts have created confusion for commentators. For example, a widely bruited falsehood about IWD which surfaced in French Communist circles claimed women from clothing and textile factories had staged a protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. This story alleged that garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages and were attacked and dispersed by police. It was claimed that this event led to a rally in commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary in 1907, with this gathering constituting the very first IWD. In response to these claims Temma Kaplan explains that “Neither event seems to have taken place, but many Europeans think March 8, 1907 inaugurated International Women’s Day.”1 Speculating about the origins of this 1857 legend Liliane Kandel and Françoise Picq suggested it was likely that (in recent times) some felt it opportune to detach International Women’s Day from its basis in Soviet history and ascribe to it a more ‘international’ origin which could be painted as more ancient than Bolshevism and more spontaneous than a decision of Congress or the initiative of those women affiliated to the Party. 2
    Whilst numerous apocryphal stories of this nature exist, we can safely say that International Women’s Day was first initiated by German socialist Clara Zetkin in 1910 as a way to promote socialist political objectives and was always referred to by the political name ‘International Working Women’s Day’. Observation of the event was primarily restricted to the Soviet bloc. It wasn’t until the 1970s when women outside of the Soviet bloc looked to celebrating the event that the word ‘working’ was increasingly omitted along with much of it’s socialist meaning.
    Beginning in the 1970’s IWD became subject to a feminist revisioning. Whereas IWWD was previously used to highlight working women’s oppression by a bourgeois and powerful upper class of both men and women, 1970s feminists revisioned the basis of the day by stating that it was now men alone as a class of “chauvinists” who wielded all power over all women who had each become victims of men’s domination. It was men’s oppressive rule which IWD must now focus on overthrowing. With this new ideological turn women were no longer viewed as part of the privileged upper class, and those former oppressors of women- i.e. capitalism; traditional gender schemas imposed by powerful men and women; various laws, language and so on- were reduced to one all-encompassing enemy: males and their patriarchal belief system. This new ideological basis for IWD was elaborated in the late 1970s-80s under the label “patriarchy theory”3 and it’s arrival correlated with a sharp increase in the numbers of women observing IWD,4 an interest no doubt generated by heightened concerns or fears over ‘patriarchal oppression’ of women. It is certainly true that women have been oppressed and are still oppressed by gender stereotypes and power structures (as are men), and the fight for liberation is a legitimate and necessary undertaking. Nevertheless in light of what appear to be oversimplified explanations proposed by ‘patriarchy theory’5 one hopes that the causes of oppression continue to be explored in more sophisticated and nuanced ways to give International Women’s and Men’s Day’s credible platforms for promoting gender equality and improving gender relations.
    International Men’s Day, as conceived by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in 1999, has a completely different origin and ideological basis to both the early and later phases of International Women’s Day. Although the objectives of IMD occasionally intersect with those of IWD, such as advocating equality between the sexes, it is primarily concerned with celebrating positive male role models and other issues unique to men’s and boys experiences. This approach is deemed necessary in a social context which is often fascinated with images of males behaving badly, eg. media portrayals of males as stupid, emotionless, greedy, violent, dangerous, power-hungry, selfish, irresponsible and so on. Such negative male stereotypes are frequently promoted in an attempt to shame males into behaving more positively, ignoring the fact that the negative behaviours may not apply to the vast majority of men and boys, or that such negativity may detrimentally impact the self-image and self-esteem of boys, which in turn impacts their willingness to contribute to building better relationships and communities. In highlighting positive male role models IMD attempts to show that males of all ages respond much more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative stereotyping.
    In summary, International Women’s Day started as a day for women to promote socialist objectives, especially for proletarian women to fight against oppression by the powerful upper classes comprised of men and women both. In the 1970’s it became a new movement claiming that men alone oppressed women, and that IWD will be used as a vehicle to highlight, primarily, the results of an assumed gender war. Said differently the focus of IWD shifted from a class war, to a gender war.
    International Men’s Day is not based on the assumption of a gender war. IMD is primarily about promoting and celebrating positive male role models in a contemporary world context which seems fixated with teaching all young boys and girls that males behave badly, and only badly.


    [1] Temma Kaplan, On the Socialist Origins of International Women’s Day, in: Feminist Studies, 11, 1985, S. 163-171. (PDF)
    [2] Liliane Kandel / Françoise Picq, Le Mythe des origines à propos de la journée internationale des femmes, in: La Revue d’en face, 12, 1982, S. 67-80.]
    [3] Lindsey German, Theories of Patriarchy in International Socialism second series no 12. 1981. (reprint)

    [4] 1970-2010: Increased interest in IWD correlates with the emergence of ‘patriarchy theory’.

    [5] Sandra Bloodworth, The Poverty of Patriarchy Theory Originally published in Socialist Review (Australian), Issue 2, Winter 1990, pp. 5-33. (DOC)

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