Because apparently not every single day is already a Men’s Day, tomorrow is International Men’s Day, which is all about celebrating MANHOOD™ of the gender essentialist variety.
Now, they haven’t actually released a press release for this year’s theme (“Keeping Men and Boys Safe”), but they do have one from around this time last year, complete with essentialist goodies such as “[n]o matter how great a mother is, she cannot replace what a father provides to a child” and “[i]rrefutable research shows that mothers typically are nurturing, soft, gentle, comforting, protective and emotional. Fathers tend to be challenging, prodding, loud, playful and encourage risk taking”. Of course, they do not link to any of this research; we’re supposed to take it at face value, without questioning their authority.
Now, I’m not happy with the gender essentialism. And because tomorrow is the proclaimed International Men’s Day, I’m going to write my OWN press release for last year’s theme (“Positive Male Role Models”), if I were in charge of this event. So without further ado, this is the Feminist Skeptic’s version of the media release for 2012: Positive Male Role Models.
[TRIGGER WARNING: some links contain threats against people.]
On Positive Male Role Models
What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be born as a male? And how does one learn how to be a man in our current society, a world where 4.5% of men are rapists, where men commit the vast majority of murders, and where a large amount of men advocate violence against other people, from other men to women and children?
Positive male role models do exist, but for the most part are few and far between. Movies often depict hypermasculine men using violence to solve their problems. Men and boys do not learn how to treat people with respect, threatening people with rape and other violence for doing something that displeases them. And many men care little about the suffering of others, preferring to live self-centered lives devoid of empathy and full of hatred towards other people.
There is a need for positive male role models, a niche that needs to be filled. Someone who can teach young boys on what it means to be a man.
But what does it mean to be a man?
To be a man is to know that he needs to treat other people with respect. A man does not need to threaten violence on other people in order to get what he wants. A man knows that the most important part of society is to help other people, to pick them up rather than push them down. He knows that he is one of many different people in the world, that he is not the lone ruler at the top but one of many unique, diverse groups that make up humanity.
He knows that he can be confident in his own expression. He knows that it is not shameful to cry, to be weak, to be anything less than a hypermasculine model. He knows that it’s okay for people to choose how they want to live, and he respects their choices. He knows that he can uplift those who have been disadvantaged by a society where the cis* straight white male is the normal and everyone else is a derivative. He knows that society does not have to be a world where straight white male is the easiest setting, and he is willing to stand up for that better world, to speak out against injustice and to foster a welcoming community where everyone is seen as an equal—no more, and no less.
In that light, let us look up to the men who see women, non-heterosexuals, non-white, and others as equals. Let’s look up to the men who treat others with respect. Give us positive male role models who will uplift and foster a boy who will grow up to positively contribute to society, without putting others people down. Give us positive male role models who teach young boys to stand up for those who are different, instead of hatred. Give us positive male role models who will better us, one young man at a time.
Let us celebrate these men, and thank them for giving boys a person to look up to, in order to better our society and everyone in it. And let us thank them, for bringing us a step closer towards a better tomorrow.