The need to change the narrative around men

Tuesday was International Men’s Day. To some it was a chance to celebrate the “blokiness” of being a male – sport; beer; women and being the male in the house. To others it was a day to reflect on their painful past as victims of abuse, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to and wondering what the future holds for them.

Some say it is International Men’s Day 365 days of the year. I disagree, especially if one goes by the website promoting the day in New Zealand. Six key pillars are promoted on the website:

  • To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen. There are six pillars of international men’s day:
  • To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but every day, working-class men who are living decent, honest lives.
  • To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, childcare, and the environment.
  • To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
  • To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
  • To improve gender relations and promote gender equality

Together they combine to help with a seventh pillar:

  • To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential

I am concerned that there is no urgency to start showing our men folk that there is a better way than the old worn out “males need to toughen up”, “stop being a sissy” nonsense. Male abuse victims exist too and unless we acknowledge the harm done to them, and help rehabilitate them, we run the risk of the worst possible outcome: the abuse done to them conditions them to commit abuse on others.

My concern about the lack of urgency stems from many sources – societal attitudes; a comprehensive lack of guidance and support for men who have realized they can help themselves; a lack of N.G.O. support. Among others. Men that are not in contact with their inner self are often the ones that wind up abusing others, starting fights and having personal issues with addiction, mental demons and so forth.

How seriously do the authorities and society at large actually want to address the issues men face? Does it understand that in order to no longer be the worst country in the O.E.C.D. for domestic violence figures, addressing these issues is an essential first step?

Without wanting to sound like an advert promoting men’s mental health – even though that is a great idea – engage your male friends and start an honest korero. Have that conversation with a mate. Are you okay? What is going on in your life? Can I help you with something?

In a few months time we will have International Womens Day. For New Zealand to improve its abomination of a track record on domestic and sexual violence we must address these issues. International Men’s Day is a perfect day to do this, just as International Women’s Day is a perfect day to push women’s issues.

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