Did International Men’s Day pass you by?
Opinion: ‘The dominant order doesn’t need to celebrate its identity with annual festivals’
Nobody writes songs about the poor ignored white bloke, do they? All right, Bruce Springsteen did write one or two . . . Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty
This column has always been prepared to say things the establishment would prefer remained unsaid. We continue that tradition by standing up for the most oppressed minority in western society. Thanks to decades of defamation from media elites, the white western man is now reduced to the status of emasculated untouchable.
There are whist drives for the infirm. There are flag days for the homeless. Bob Geldof makes records in aid of the hungry. Nobody writes songs about the poor ignored white bloke, do they?
All right, the first 10 years of Bruce Springsteen’s career dealt almost exclusively with depressed men weeping in mortgaged dungarees. But I don’t remember Mr Springsteen directing any money towards men’s groups. Do you? Huh?
Once we hunted for our dinner, dressed rudely in skins and made uneasy friendship with the timber wolf and the screech owl. Now we’re expected to change nappies and care about wallpaper patterns. Have you seen that cool film Fight Club? As Brad Pitt says, we are all facing up to a soul-eviscerating crisis in masculinity. God, I need to punch something. Maybe I’ll punch this caribou. Then I can eat its innards and make a ceremonial headdress of its hewn antlers.
Every March we have to endure something called International Women’s Day. You remember. These pampered ladies stomp the streets bellowing about an oppression that – insofar as it ever existed – withered when Mrs Pankhurst was finally angle-grinded from the Downing Street railings.
They say they’re discriminated against. Well, when’s International Men’s Day? Answer that, madam. Ah, yes, “every day is International Men’s Day”. Very amusing. Once again, you resort to the sort of glib verbal aggression that, according to this book by Kate Millet I haven’t read, is inextricably wound into patriarchal discourse. Get the irony?
Oh hang on. Apparently, International Men’s Day was last Wednesday. Yet there were few marches on the public thoroughfares and few sombre think pieces in highbrow magazines. Most people ignored the event because, well, it’s just not a real thing.
Obviously, any man desperate for a day celebrating his status as a member of the richer, more powerful, more violent gender should be allowed that privilege. But, to saner segments of society, the event seems like the manifestation of a psychotically unjustified inferiority complex.
There is, in the United States, an annual celebration of the African experience known as Black History Month. Special programmes are broadcast on the telly, there are talks in schools. Every year, wiseacres of various racist hue ask why there is no White History Month. Such a festival would, presumably, drag figures like Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and General Eisenhower from undeserved obscurity and permit them 30 days in the sun.
Not every educator agrees with the concept of Black History Month, but all thinking people should understand the distinction between a genuine attempt to counterbalance prevailing orthodoxies and a peevish effort to redress an imagined slight.
The establishment of International Men’s Day suggests an indulgent parent who, aware that one sibling is jealous of another’s birthday, elects to bake a cake for both. All kinds of unconvincing equivalencies are thrown up.
Think also of absurd moves in Northern Ireland to set Ulster Scots (a madey-uppy dialect derived from Oor Wullie comics) on the same linguistic pedestal as Irish (a proper language with its own verbs and everything). If them ones is allowed road signs in their own language, then we deserve road signs in some ersatz gibberish that we’ll knock together when the Peace ’n’ Love money comes in.
The Men’s Day nonsense has been bolstered by a growing men’s rights movement that, in its most benign form, sends adherents to bellow in the woods and, in more sinister incarnation, campaigns against what it describes as the “false rape industry”. Have you seen that stupid film Fight Club? As Brad Pitt says (partly satirically it must be acknowledged), poor chaps are suffering a crisis in their masculinity. (Incidentally, no special interest group has, over the years, directed more bile at this correspondent than the MRM social-media warriors.)
Let us fan ourselves down and regain composure. International Men’s Day brings sane campaigns to raise awareness of male cancers. There is discussion of boys’ underachievement in certain subjects – but we don’t need to gender an entire 24 hours to deal with those subjects. When the dominant order sets out to celebrate its identity with costumes, political parties and annual festivals, it rarely works out well for those still fighting for equality. You can draw your own unhappy parallels from history.
Not that any of this matters that much. Most of you will barely have noticed Men’s Day passing you by. That’s as it should be.