22 April, 2011
“Critics of International Men’s Day want to know “which men” are being talked about. Is International Men’s Day talking about Rich Men? Poor Men? Black Men? Brown Men? Indian Men? Men in the Global South? White Men in advanced capitalist countries? International Men’s Day speaks to all Men- Rich Men, Poor Men, Working Class men, Homeless Men, Middle-Class Men, Black Men, Brown Men, Indian Men, Asian Men, Aboriginal Men, Men in the Global South, Men in Third World Countries, White Men in advanced capitalist countries- and the women who love them.” (A “Teachable Moment” on Men’s Issues, In Search of Fatherhood Summer 2010, p.40)
These powerful words were written by Ms. Diane Sears, the United States Coordinator for International Men’s Day. It aptly captures the inclusive nature of IMD. The special Day is not designated as International Poor Men’s Day or International Chinese Men’s Day. The important word in International Men’s Day is MEN. And, what is more important is that children, girls and women are part of IMD. Maybe in the future the term ‘gender movement’ could be used as efforts are made to reduce the gap and polarization between the men’s movement and women’s movement.
We need to remember that IMD is not a small party or private home owned by a few or one person. The gates and doors of IMD are open for all. We need to always be there at the doors and gates of IMD and also ready to welcome men and women who are willing to assist with efforts to create a more caring and humane world.
Some persons might use moral, legal and religious arguments to justify the exclusion of certain men from the men’s movement. This is certainly the wrong approach to promote unity and harmony. What would happen to the excluded men? They would continue to be neglected, form their own separate movement or join a separate group. If they form a group or movement, this will exclude us. And, the divisions among men would continue to exist.
Why would IMD want to exclude men or boys who are different? The creation of the Equality and Diversity Statement in 2011 was another visible attempt to reinforce the inclusive nature of IMD. Even if this statement had never materialized in 2011, IMD should be interpreted as accepting everyone. Some will argue that including men with different lifestyles or in certain professions would tarnish the image of IMD and send the wrong message. IMD does not promote any particular lifestyle or job as ideal, acceptable or the norm.
There will be no signs of progress if the men’s movement promotes different categories such as ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ or ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. Should we ignore a small group of men and women because they do not conform to the rest of mainstream society? Should we ignore this small group because they comprise only 1% or 2% of the world’s population? If IMD excludes this group, then we must ask ourselves- is IMD promoting unity? Once we begin to exclude some persons then in the future we will find reasons to exclude others. The killing of persons or denial of jobs because they dress differently, adhere to different religious beliefs or have alternative lifestyles, should be concerns for supporters of IMD. Supporters of IMD should discuss if we can include everyone and not compromise the 6 Objectives of IMD.
IMD should be that haven for men who are marginalized, bullied, humiliated, ostracized, mocked and ridiculed. Even if it is only one day of the year (19 November), these excluded men must feel included, welcome and proud to be male. Again, I want to highlight a relevant statement by Ms. Sears in her 2010 article, “International Men’s Day provides a welcome antidote to the mixed signals about manhood and masculinity, disrespect, and lack of recognition that many Men throughout our global village encounter” (p.40).
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