It’s International Men’s Day, a calendar date that usually passes me by. I wish I could say the same for International Women’s Day, but there’s no escaping the annual tyranny of what feminist writer Ella Whelan quipped should be more accurately named International Middle-class Women Who Have Nothing Better To Do Day.
Generally, I reckon such occasions are a load of nonsense, but today I’m marking International Men’s Day.
I recently adopted a new life philosophy – act like a man. More women should try it and see what happens.
After a few turbulent months, I realised it was time to get my priorities straight in the pursuit of personal progress. I looked at all the men around me and noticed how the successful ones ran their lives.
It was time to be more selfish than selfless.
The word “selfish” gets a bad rap, but psychologists agree it can be a positive trait, helping you become a better person and improving the world around you.
Be driven, daring, tough. Put yourself first for a change.
I told myself: Every time you make a decision, act like a man. Think like a man. It was surprisingly liberating, with positive results.
Essentially, I tapped into male stereotypes and reaped the rewards.
And this is why, if we can do one thing this International Men’s Day, it should be to reclaim the values held to be typical of men and dispel the unhelpful myth of toxic masculinity.
We hear this horrible phrase thrown about, which places maleness itself as a poison at birth. If there was such a term for women, there would rightly be outrage.
It’s defined as characteristics typical of the male such as ambition, competitiveness and aggression. But when harnessed in a good way, all these things can be attributes. Others included in the list of supposedly toxic male traits include stoicism and self-sufficiency – again, vital life tools when utilised properly.
If that’s the definition of toxic masculinity, then the only acceptable man is one who behaves like a woman.
Or, at least, the paternalistic stereotype of the female as empathetic, cooperative and sensitive. That positive prejudice is followed by what sociologists call the “negative echo” of women as hysterical, bitchy and jealous.
If what we’re talking about are sexists, chauvinists, abusers, misogynists and homophobes, call them that. Don’t provide an excuse for such individuals by presenting them as victims of some unavoidable pathology. It’s not their fault! Blame toxic masculinity!
Better to remind men of their best features, such as their admirable capabilities as providers, protectors and defenders.
Old-fashioned, maybe, but they remain the qualities most attractive to women.
The theme for International Men’s Day 2021 is “better relations between men and women”. Switching the focus from the negative to the positive will benefit both sexes.