by Anna Prodromou*
Every time International Women’s Day approaches, we hear the usual dissenting voices. “Do we really have to celebrate Women’s Day?” followed by “Why don’t we celebrate Men’s Day also?”. The answer is quite simple: We do celebrate Men’s Day, every year on November 19.
"Historical oppression is a painful and undeniable truth. Unfortunately, violence, brutality, and sexual exploitation are still a reality for millions of girls and women in our world."
It is undeniable that men face challenges around the world. According to the World Health Organization, men have a higher suicide rate than women, as well as a higher mortality rate. In the educational system, boys are outperformed by girls at every stage. Also, either for religious or other reasons, boys are victims of unnecessary male circumcision without consent. Additionally, only a very low percentage of male sexual assaults are reported to the police. Recognizing that these are grave issues facing men does not in any way undermine the issues facing women. Undoubtedly, men deserve the exact same respect that women expect to be given.
We have to understand that the same system that pushes women to be sex objects until they become mothers is the exact same system that forces men to be hyper-masculine providers who are in no way urged or allowed to talk about their feelings. This system that forces us to abide by stereotypical gender roles is one that negatively affects us all.
If you think that men should pay for your needs; if you secretly think that men shouldn’t be softies; if you’re exhilarated by the idea of celebrating women’s day by receiving flowers or at a bar while being served and entertained by a man in his undies, then you might want to rethink your opinion on this subject before you start demanding that this day should be taken seriously.
NOW LET'S BE CLEAR ON SOMETHING THOUGH; Men have not faced the same systemic historical oppression that women have experienced. Historical oppression is a painful and undeniable truth. Unfortunately, violence, brutality, and sexual exploitation are still a reality for millions of girls and women in our world. Gender violence against women is a grave problem. Domestic violence, human trafficking, sex slavery, female genital mutilation, femicide, honor killings, and child marriage are some manifestations of that brutality against women. Don’t underestimate or doubt the gender pay gap either. Yes, it is a reality as well as the underrepresentation of women in politics, in the judicial system, in high-tech and in CEO positions. Moreover, the representation of women in the media is problematic and disturbing, generally focusing on appearance and objectifying the female body.
The only way to overcome all these is to embrace our humanity, understand, address and confront the socially constructed gender binary that has been imposed on us by our society and manifested so strongly through language. We can only do this together. Allyship must be the way forward. Allyship is the only way forward.
*Anna Prodromou is a PR, Communications & DEI Consultant