Today is that special day that comes around once a year — that day when the entire world turns its attention to the plight of half its people, and commits itself to stand up for their rights, battle gender inequality, and create a just world for all people.
It's International Men's Day, of course!
Nov. 19 marks the sixteenth year that the world is celebrating — but really, nobody in the world is celebrating — International Men's Day. Its founders invented the day to honor all the supposedly awesome things about "manhood." So, things like being a "good guy" and a "stand-up fellow" and "role model" and all those other gender stereotypes that, though positive, are still just gender stereotypes. Read more about honest, strong men exchanging firm handshakes, giving each other their word (you know they're good for it), and knowing the value of hard work over at the group's website.
It's very dangerous to celebrate gender stereotypes, even positive ones, but if that's not bad enough, International Men's Day has been hijacked by misogynistic men's rights groups — yes, those exist — and those who oppose equal rights for women.
As Michael Kimmel wrote in the Guardian, "the title of International Men’s Day is so laden with the possibility for such confusion — is it for or against gender equality? Inspired by feminism or opposed to it? — that it is a too much of a political minefield to be navigated easily. Maybe it needs to be rethought."
Maybe International Men's Day needs to be rethought. Maybe it needs to be turned into something else entirely. Maybe we can just let Nov. 19 be "World Toilet Day" and stop stealing that porcelain shine. But no matter what happens to International Men's Day in the future, today, like every day of the year, men can sit back and know that — despite the many gains made by the global feminist movement to improve gender equality — they, men, still rule the world. Every single day is International Men's Day.
If you're worried about patriarchy losing its hold on the world, here are nine disturbing facts that prove we're a long way from it.
1. Men hold about 80 percent of political power in the world
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2. A lot more men can read and write than women
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3. Men hold more than 95 percent of CEO positions in the 500 biggest companies in the world
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4. Men often earn more than their female colleagues. Even in the US
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5. Men are fighting most of the wars, with only about a dozen countries allowing women to serve in combat roles
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6. Only men are allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia
7. Vatican City is run by a man and only men are allowed to vote for him
8. In many countries, including India, men have a head start over women even before they are born, due to the preference for male babies
9. Men dominate the global workforce and in many cases this means controlling the household purse strings