What International Men’s Day is NOT about

I’d like to make a few observations about International Men’s Day (IMD) that I hope will place the event in its proper context as a men’s rights initiative. During the process of elaborating these points, I intend to throw a few people under the bus in order to illustrate misuse of this wonderful event.

As one of just five members of the original IMD Coordination Committee, along with my role as Global IMD Promotions Coordinator, IMD historian, and author of the only book on the history and purpose of International Men’s Day, I feel well positioned to make a few observations about the occasion.

International Men’s Day was first celebrated by men’s rights advocate Thomas Oaster in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, in 1992. He is the founder.

After a quiet period in which IMD was celebrated by only a few small international groups, Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh from Trinidad and Tobago revived the event in 1999, and the world has increasingly begun to celebrate it since then.

With the growing success of the day, it was inevitable that ideologues of every stripe would turn up and exploit the occasion to promote whatever snake oil they happened to be selling. Despite the fact that IMD is a men’s rights event, the following are a few of the predictable usurpers who attempt to exploit the occasion.

IMD is for the benefit of women only? No.

The first snake-oil sellers come from the “everything should be for women” camp. This kind of snake-oil seller would have you believe that IMD should be rebranded as “International Men’s Day for Women.” There are minority groups, for instance, who celebrate IMD as a day for men to show gestures of chivalry toward women.

One of the more memorable examples was orchestrated by the Fawcett Society in 2011, which organized an IMD event bringing attention to government cuts that they say disproportionately affected women. The slogan for this event was “Don’t turn back time” on the advancement of women’s power, and men were invited to make this the centrepiece of International Men’s Day celebrations.

Those promoting IMD4women select any of a variety of women’s complaints and ask men to cater to those complaints on IMD. To give a current example, this year it is rumoured that the Irish group Sinn Féin will attempt to redirect IMD celebrations toward the HeForShe campaign.

Fortunately, such initiatives are not (yet) too common on the occasion of IMD, and we can only hope this remains the case long into the future.

IMD is for con men? No.

Beware the con man attempting to exploit International Men’s Day for false prestige and money. Australian resident Warwick Marsh, the notorious Christian homophobe and swindler, is a prime example of a person trying to exploit a public event.

Having nabbed for himself the internationalmensday.com domain, and populating it with my writings about IMD (without acknowledgement), he makes the following fraudulent claims on his website that would make a used car salesman jealous of his ability. His website is touted as:

An Australian Harm Prevention Charity

Nice try. However there is nothing about his website, a portal for promoting traditionalist notions of conservative manhood, that is about harm prevention other than the occasional appeals about fatherless children. The primary “harm” he is concerned about is the current damage being done toward his vision of traditionalist gender roles.

He next claims that his website is:

The global driving force and the coordinating charity for International Men’s Day

In this statement his con-artistry shines through. No one of substance or importance in the IMD community supports his effort or site as being a leading fundraiser for IMD. In fact, most everyone recognizes it as an attempt to grab some notoriety and potentially defraud people of their money.

Marsh also makes the outrageously false claim that he and his site:

is honoured to work with the founder of International Men’s Day, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh.

This too is a fraudulent claim to authority, stating a completely false relationship with one of the pioneers of IMD. I have it firsthand from Dr. Teelucksingh that there is no such working relationship—quite the opposite. Moreover, Dr. Teelucksingh has requested, so far unsuccessfully, that Marsh remove such fraudulent claims from his website.

Marsh also says that his website is the first digital driving force behind International Men’s Day, another false claim. There were several IMD websites established before his, including my own, the Wikipedia IMD entry, a site owned by Dr. Teelucksingh, and numerous other IMD websites both then and still today. The claim that his personal website is “the digital driving force behind International Men’s day” is thoroughly misleading, because IMD is a decentralized event that has been driven by hardworking people around the globe, and Marsh is not one of them.

What Marsh fails to tell the reader is that the entire global IMD community has shunned him for being a swindler, hater of homosexuals, and a narcissistic opportunist.

Others like Marsh have approached me over the years interested in making money from the event, and only interested in making money from it. A European individual, for example, purchased one of the key domains for IMD and, after building a website with reasonable traffic, offered to sell it to me for $50,000 US. As with all opportunists, I declined his offer as impolitely as I knew how.

Is IMD for traditional gynocentrists? No.

During the years of promoting IMD I occasionally had to participate on international committees and was forced on occasion to work with traditional gynocentrists, or “tradgyns.” I found working with these individuals frustrating, particularly those promoting male chivalry and sacrifice for the benefit of women.

Warwick Marsh offers an excellent example of this problem with his emphasis on “manhood,” “traditional values,” “chivalry,” “honour,” and “male sacrifice.” On the homepage of his IMD website, we are offered a vision of what he calls manhood:

The ability to sacrifice your needs on behalf of others is fundamental to manhood, as is honour. Manhood rites of passage the world over recognise the importance of sacrifice in the development of Manhood. Men make sacrifices everyday in their place of work, in their role as husbands and fathers, for their families, for their friends, for their communities and for their nation.

Elsewhere he notes that the theme for International Men’s Day is “Honour and Sacrifice,” a chance to commemorate what men, sons, fathers, and grandfathers, both past and present, have sacrificed for their families, communities, and nation.

Like Marsh, a significant minority of men and women promoting IMD hold the view that championing “tradgyn” values of male disposability is what the event should be all about.

The real McCoy

The rightful heirs to this tradition are those from the MHRM who champion the dignity and freedoms of men and boys, not those who promote feminism, chivalry, traditionalism, religion, male disposability, nor the charlatans seeking status and money. That’s why I have no hesitation in pointing readers to the original Global IMD Website (est. 2007) and to AVfM’s IMD Facebook page to gain a taste of what IMD is all about. This International Men’s Day, let us all remember that IMD started as a men’s rights initiative, and we have every right to continue promoting it as a vehicle to highlight men’s rights issues.

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