As human beings in today’s society, we all have our fair share of issues and problems that can affect our lives. Some are problems we all face, such as global warming. Others may be because of our background, where we were born, our ethnicity, or our gender.
Things like prostate cancer and gender stereotypes are issues that many men have to face, and they are worth our attention.
Several countries around the world have chosen Nov. 19 to be International Men’s Day. This year will mark Canada’s first nationwide participation in the event. The goals are to highlight issues surrounding men, and bring awareness to the public in order to inspire societal change. But in the desperate struggle to get the word out on key issues surrounding men, is setting aside a single day of the year really an effective means of bringing change? Can it really do anything?
There is no doubt that issues of men’s health, improving gender relations, and promoting positive male role models are topics that need to be discussed openly. But as many critics have pointed out, International Men’s Day isn’t the most effective way to do this.
First off, it creates a false parallel with International Women’s Day (March 8). The purpose of International Women’s Day is completely different from that of IMD. International Women’s Day was created to protest discrimination against Women. IMD implicitly makes this same statement to a certain extent, and although men do face discrimination, it is simply untrue that males are a disadvantaged gender.
Also, International Men’s Day is trying to bring awareness to issues that already have programs in place or awareness days of their own.
The International Men’s Day committee has stated: “alcoholism, drug abuse, rape, pornography, adultery, gambling, sexually transmitted diseases, divorces, domestic violence, vagrancy, and child abuse, which affect many of our males, must be addressed.”
When going through that list, it seems that all of those issues apply to both genders. And regardless, every single one of those issues has their own awareness day, week, or some activist group committed to bringing awareness.
Canada’s calendar is crammed full of awareness days that basically go completely unnoticed by the public. For instance, Feb. 10 is Safer Internet Day. If you don’t like that then you can take part in Sexual and Reproductive Health Day on Feb. 12. Still not interested? There is always Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day on the Feb. 14. Maybe the Feb. 15 works better for you? If so, you’re in luck because that is International Childhood Cancer Day and National Flag of Canada Day. And if you would prefer, there is Family Day on Feb. 16 or Heritage Day on Feb. 17. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
Those are all real awareness days that our country celebrates, and the list is much, much longer. There is literally a day for almost every conceivable social issue that comes to mind.
The fact is that the last thing we need is yet another awareness day that brings nothing new to the table, and will go largely ignored.