International Men’s Day – November 19, 2019
What is International Men’s Day?
International Men’s Day observed on November 19 focuses on men’s health, improving gender relations, highlighting male role models, and promoting positive expressions of masculinity. It’s also an opportunity to recognize men who don’t fall into traditional manifestations of masculinity, such as gay and bisexual men, transgender, or masculine non-binary people.
History of International Men’s Day
In 1968, an American journalist named John P. Harris wrote an editorial highlighting a lack of balance in the Soviet system, which promoted an International Women’s Day for female workers but failed to deliver a male counterpart. Harris stated that though he agreed there should be a day to celebrate women, the day served as flaw within the communist system.
In the early 1990s Thomas Oaster, the director of the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies, invited organizations in the U.S., Australia, and Malta to hold small International Men’s Day events during the month of February. Oaster successfully hosted these events for two years, but his 1995 attempt was poorly attended. Discouraged, he ceased plans to continue the function. Australia followed suit, making Malta the sole country to continue celebrating.
In 1999 Trinidad and Tobago, the day was revived by Jerome Teelucksingh from the University of the West Indies. He realized that even though there was a day for fathers, there was no day to celebrate men who didn’t have kids, or who were young boys and teenagers. Teelucksingh understood the importance of positive male role models, as his father had been an excellent example for him, and chose to celebrate International Men’s Day on November 19 — the day of his father’s birthday as well as the day a local soccer team had united his country with their endeavors to qualify for the world cup.
Since Teelucksingh’s revival, International Men’s Day has served to promote positive aspects of male identity based on the premise that men respond more constructively to positive role models than to negative gender stereotyping. The day is not intended to compete with International Women’s Day, but to highlight the importance of men’s physical and mental health and positive masculinity.