Today, November 19, is International Men’s Day.
It wasn’t too long ago that I would have BALKED at the idea of there being a day to celebrate men. No offense to all the men in my life, but… really? I mean, WHY? WHY the hey diddle heck did a patriarchal society - where policies and social norms are STILL holding women back - need a day to celebrate the gender that continued to run the world? Back then, I just would not have “gotten” it.
But then the day came when I found out I was having a boy...
....and my world (and perspective) changed.
I was mentally prepared to raise a girl. I mean, with being a woman I kinda knew a thing or two about what it was like to be a girl. Plus, having grown in to the woman I am, I felt very well equipped to prepare her for the challenges she would face in the world. And while I have no fashion sense or ability to create cute hair styles, I had a very good understanding of how I would parent a girl so that she could THRIVE.
When I found out I was having a boy, I cried. I cried a little because that safety net of feeling like I knew how I would parent my child, was ripped out from under me. But I also cried with relief. Relief that I wouldn’t have to figure out fashion and hair styles and the drama of a teenage daughter. Relief because “boys are so much easier than girls.” And relief that I wouldn’t have to worry about all the $hit I felt I would worry about and think about when raising a girl - body image, self-esteem issues, pregnancy, sexual assault, gender inequality, tired social norms, etc. etc. etc.
What I didn’t realize, and what hit me pretty hard, was that raising a boy so that he would grow in to a healthy, happy, compassionate, respectful, confident, well-adjusted man (aka so he could THRIVE) had its own slew of challenges. At the top of the “Challenges” list, was figuring out how to parent in a way that supported and encouraged my son to buck the social norms of masculinity that are still prevalent in our society. Why?
Because it has been shown that masculinity as most of us know (now known as “Toxic Masculinity”) it is killing boys and men - physically, emotionally and mentally:
3 out of 4 suicides are men
2 out of 3 violent deaths are men
Men die 6 years younger than women on average
Boys underperform girls at every stage of education
Dads who want to be more involved in their children’s lives face a range of barriers
(The above is from: https://www.internationalmensday.info/)
Women have been fighting and challenging feminine social norms for, like, forever. Men, however, are new to this fight. And if having one day a year to highlight and bring awareness to the issue is what it will take to support men in this fight, then I’m 100% on board. So, for my son, my husband and all the men in my life: Cheers to International Men’s Day 2020!
* If you’d like to learn more on this topic, check out the documentary “The Mask You Live In”. Click here to view the trailer. *