Today, Monday November 19, is International Men’s Day, a day to recognise and celebrate men. However, the day will probably pass without much media fanfare. Yesterday, one of the weekend’s magazines published an edition that was entirely devoted to ‘what women want’. In response to that, I would like to share with you what I believe men want.
Mostly men just want a break: We want to be judged by the content of our character, not the shape of our chromosomes. We want to be seen for who we actually are, not lumped in with a small percentage of the male (and female) population who are pathologically violent. We want recognition and appreciation for our lives of goodness, contribution and loving service to our families and communities.
From the women’s space: We want the conversation being promoted about our gender to stop being sexist, prejudicial and derogatory towards us. We would like the opportunity to participate in that conversation, to have a seat at the table, to no longer be the silent sex whose opinions are automatically disqualified if we disagree with the feminist polemic. We want the right to construct our own identities around our own values — not to have them handed to us as outdated social stereotypes, or by hostile women’s groups.
From the media: We want a voice: the opportunity to talk about how we experience gender, to challenge the story that vilifies our gender as some sort of ‘evil empire’. We want more column inches given to men’s issues, men’s experience and men’s opinions. We want to put gender back on the agenda, not just women’s ‘gender’ issues. We want to be participants in the story that is told about us.
From government: We want protection of our basic human rights: We want the presumption of innocence before the law, and fair access to our children. We want equal access to government resources, research funding and support for our health and wellbeing. We want the epidemic of male addiction, depression and suicide to be addressed. We want our experience of family violence victimisation recognised and validated. We want Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner to also pay attention to the disadvantages we experience because of our gender.
From the workplace: We want our wellbeing to be more important than profits. We want to be able to take time off work to bring our children into the world, to be a part of their lives, to be the role models and fathers that they need us to be. We want to be protected from injury, to be paid for our overtime, to have work life balance, to no longer have to sacrifice our wellbeing and our family life for our family’s survival.
From women: We want collaboration. We want to work with you to create a future in which our children our safe, supported and empowered. We want to co-create a society in which we all enjoy freedom from violence, prejudice and disadvantage. In essence, we want the exact same things as women do.