“But where’s International Men’s Day?”
To those of you who will inevitably ask this question today on International Women’s Day (probably the same people who would ask, where’s the white history month? Why don’t all lives matter? Why aren’t there parking spots for non-handicapped people?)
Rebecca Solnit puts it bluntly in her book, Men Explain Things to Me:
“Of course, women are capable of all sorts of major unpleasantness, and there are violent crimes by women , but the so-called war of the sexes is extraordinarily lopsided when it comes to actual violence. Unlike the last (male) head of the IMF, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the US military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those males football players in Steubenville, aren’t likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds.”
You don’t see women threatening outspoken men online with detailed rape and death threats and a legal system that barely helps. In fact, 70 percent of women use a male alias online to avoid such threats.
You don’t hear stories of a group of women sexually assaulting a man on a bus, with the man dying of his injuries. According to RAINN, only about two percent of rapists are convicted, when you factor in unreported rapes.
Nor do you see men having to fight for their own reproductive rights.
Men aren’t told to change their appearance and habits in order to avoid being targeted for sexual assaults. The World Health Organization reports that one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
You don’t see women calling out to men on the street with sexually explicit harassment, then saying, hey lighten up, it’s just a compliment!
I’m sure I will get a #NotAllMen comment or three. But the fact that the majority of men are wonderful and caring allies can frequently be lost to the daily struggles of women around the world just to survive, exist, and be recognized in a world that is intent on silencing them with the threat of violence.
Those wonderful men are the ones we need to help in this struggle.
So today on International Women’s Day, instead of asking where is the men’s recognition, stop and and ask yourself, why we, as an international community, are celebrating women today.
The problem of violence against women is not just a series of random, isolated events. It’s a symptom of a society that systematically discriminates against women and minorities.
When half of the population is oppressed, everyone suffers.
As Solnit puts it,
“Women’s liberation has often been portrayed as a movement intent on encroaching upon or taking power and privilege away from men, as though in some dismal zero-sum game, only one gender at a time could be free and powerful. But we are free together or slaves together.”
Let’s all, together, break free.
Author: Ari Weaver
Editor: Sara Kärpänen