International Men’s Day: Thanks For All The Trophies, But No Thanks
Today is International Men’s Day, and to mark the occasion, Rebecca and writer Nico Lang have each written a piece explaining their position on the day’s validity, or lack thereof. Nico’s piece is below, while Rebecca’s piece is here.
Hello, Frisky readers, this is an important message from a person with a penis—at least by most charitable definitions of the word. While I greatly appreciate the concern of Dr. Adrian Lee and some of the faculty at the University of York—located in the United Kingdom—I, as a white man, am doing OK. Whew, it feels good to finally have said it. When I woke up this morning, I thought I might not be fine, but then I took a deep breath and counted Baldwins (Alec… Stephen… Billy… Drunk Guy) and I willed the courage to muster on. The crisis has been averted.
But I am glad and honored to be in Dr. Lee’s thoughts. This week, he reflected on the need for “equality” for me in a statement around the college’s planned celebration of “International Men’s Day,” which was met with protests from students. Lee felt men’s issues were necessary to address—because male students “are underrepresented in the [York] population as a whole.” York diversity committee chair, Dr. David Duncan, further explained: “The intention was to draw attention to some of the issues men tell us they encounter and to follow this up by highlighting in particular the availability of mental health and welfare support which we know men are sometimes reluctant to access.”
I agree with Dr. Duncan that mental health is an important issue—for everyone—but upon flipping through my calendar, I have come to the conclusion that I do not need my own day. I have all the days. And, in fact, I also have a day called “Punday” that I just made up and plan on proposing to Congress as an official addition to the week. On Punday, all Americans will be forced to speak in a series of Cockney-esque rhyme games or face punishment of death. This might seem ludicrous, but given that a vast majority of the U.S. government looks like me, my 80 percent white and male Congresspersons may be willing to consider a modest proposal from one of their own.
If every day is my national holiday, you might be asking where you may enjoy my vast array of colorful floats or at what location the crowds will gather to celebrate me. The upkeep is a lot of work, but luckily, Wall Street has done it for me. If you’re sipping your coffee and strolling through Manhattan’s financial district on a Saturday morning—pretending that you’re Winona Ryder in Autumn in New York but without that whole sexy fatal heart condition thing—you might notice that our pride floats are very tall and have men’s names on them (like Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan).
Wall Street has been very supportive of me through tough times, and I just want to show my appreciation to everyone for all the flowers and gifts that got me through. Thank you, Wall Street, for continuing to bravely open the doors for people like me, in a sector where men are worth around 1.7 times times more than their female colleagues. I’m getting so much support from my friends in finance that I don’t know what to do with all of it: According to research this year from the World Economic Forum, there are 80 male hedge fund managers for every woman, while the overall number of women on Wall Street shrinks.
Thanks guys, for making me feel like my voice is being heard, and for showing me that I, too, can be a CEO—at basically every major company in America. I would also like to give a shout out to the invisible hand of the free market for quite the reach-around all these years. In every single country around the world, I can be expected to earn more than a woman for doing the exact same job, even though—in the U.S.—women are getting more college degrees. At this rate, it’ll take women 118 years to catch up to men, which is quite the head start; I’ve never been much of a runner.
Thus, I’m also very glad for people like Dr. Lee, because without brave male souls willing to speak up, how can I ever be expected to be paid too much or have so many jobs? In fact, CitiBank just emailed me two more job offers while writing this—which is too kind. I like to put them all in a little folder called: “BLESSED <3.”
But as much as I enjoy International Men’s Day and the other 364 days observed in my honor, being celebrated by my peers all the time is exhausting (I believe they also call it “the Academy Awards”). I hereby would like to give back some of the many things I’ve earned over the years by no doing of my own: the many pats on the back I’ve been given just for saying the same thing as the women in the room, my ability to be a bad driver without someone making it about my gender, and getting to dress however I like without wondering if someone will believe it’s a comment on my moral character.
I would like to also return the trophies I’ve earned just for showing up to things—like work or a first date—even if I’m just wearing a stained coffee filter with holes in it for a t-shirt.
So while I’m deeply grateful to Dr. Lee and everything men have done for so many people over the years—but mostly other men—can you let someone else have their own international day? (For instance, does Patti Smith have a holiday yet?) And please do give the private jet Mr. Murdoch sent over to someone else. I’m fine with all the benefits my penis has bestowed upon me and upon every other man without us even having to ask, but I already have my own airplane. Let the record show that I’m OK with just the one. I’m fine.
And you know what? One day, not long from today, I might even be swell or dandy. In the meantime, I will do what men like me have always done: Put your chin up and march on, knowing that you started the marathon a mile away from the finish line.
On the way, I might even get a new shirt.
Nico Lang is a Meryl Streep enthusiast, critic, and essayist. You can read his work on Salon, Rolling Stone, L.A. Times, Washington Post, Advocate, and the Guardian. He’s also the author of The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions and the co-editor of the best-selling BOYS anthology series.