IMD 2021 — Towards better gender relationships

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What a difference a year makes to International Men’s Day (IMD)!

For those not in the know (and I’m guessing that’s most of us!), there really is such a thing as an annual IMD, and it’s happening in two days’ time on Nov 19.

A year ago, I wrote about IMD. At that time, I had no idea there was such a day. It was only after some sleuthing that I found the website about IMD and its origins.

Back then the website was clearly very much neglected. It took forever to load; plus its layout and design looked like some Web 1.0 prototype from the ’90s!

Website reboot…including a 2021 IMD theme!

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Maybe someone in charge took notice of my post, cos a year later today, it’s a much better and more updated website. (I’m guessing the entry of Australian sponsor Dads4Kids helped resurrect what IMD founder Dr Jerome Teelucksingh — from the University of West Indies’ History Department — allowed to flounder)

Today, the official IMD site has proper menu items to help you navigate its now-many pages, including a section on blog posts (although there hasn’t been any new posts since 2019).

There’s even a specific theme to celebrate this year’s IMD, with a promo video thrown in to boot!

Calling for “better relations between men and women”, it’s clearly a theme in step with contemporary discourse everywhere about the need for greater gender equality.

I approve.

Or, at the very least, I approve of the need to dedicate a specific day to acknowledge how men have contributed to society across the generations.

And, given today’s climate and discourse, I also recognize how loaded the statement I just said sounds!

After all, in the past several decades, there’s been much pushback against how societies everywhere have been too male-dominated for far too long; how it’s time to honor women and advocate for more gender equity.

No arguments from me.

However, at times I can’t help feeling the pendulum might have swung too far in the opposite direction, making gender equity still very much elusive and seemingly impossible to attain.

This time though, perhaps men are getting the shorter end of the stick?

Gender equality happens in small moments

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Whatever the case, I don’t think it’s helpful to reduce these gender discussions to a measuring scale. It gets too tiring, doesn’t it? Constantly checking to ensure we’re at a balance of 50/50, an even gender keel if you will? And surely this isn’t a series of yoga sessions, or attempts to walk the tightrope between yin and yang, right?

Lobby groups will likely cry foul at what I’ve just said! But I stand by my conviction.

Big campaigns and protest marches might appear to raise mass awareness and help push for necessary changes in gender treatment, but to me, the true “measure” that we’ve arrived at equality is in the small moments we each live day after day.

It’s in the small moments that we truly see for ourselves if gender equity is really happening.

So what’s probably more important with the annual IMD, or its more famous and established counterpart IWD, is to focus on individual stories that showcase how couples, colleagues, and classmates in communities everywhere are forging strong ties among themselves.

Ties that show how they recognize one another’s strengths, supports, and contributions; celebrating the very fact that our differences can work hand in hand for the betterment of humanity.

The untold stories about men and women

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The problem with that idea is, well, no one really tracks this kind of stuff! Go ahead, surf the net and see for yourself.

You’re unlikely to find many stories that sing of the cordial camaraderie between men and women (other than actual happy marriages of course).

Rather, you’re more likely to find stuff about gender inequality and all manner of gender mistreatments. Otherwise, you will read tons of stories about famous men and women who are movers and shakers in politics, or the corporate board room, or some stage with a bigger (read global) footprint.

It’s a pity.

While I’m confident there are stories out there of men and women supporting each other heroically in mostly mundane day-to-day lives that often go unnoticed, no one seems interested enough to capture and propagate them to the rest of the world.

Why is that?

Especially when we realize this world is getting more splintered by the day. Scroll through your newsfeeds if you don’t believe me. Even without Covid, we’re increasingly seeing a world that’s drawing up lines that divide rather than unite; each nation guarding its own turf.

Better relationships between men and women begins with…

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If we are to pursue better relations between men and women, then we need more of the daily humdrum but nevertheless definitive stories of gender communities to rise up and be heard.

And to do that, we need men and women everywhere to stand up and support as well as celebrate one another, simply for being who they are.

To tell daily stories of gallant men and elegant women. Of selfless husbands and tender-hearted wives. Of courageous moms and sensitive dads.

But most of all, of fathers (like me) who stumble, fall, but still try daily, to lead our families with fear and trembling.

Why?

Because when I think of IMD and better relations between men and women, I begin by thinking of fathers and sons, husbands and brothers.

And I think of the impact that we’re supposed to make on our loved ones; an impact that molds, shapes, and grooms each successive generation for a better society.

A better tomorrow.

Now isn’t that an idea worth spreading?

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