The Cancellation of International Women’s Day and What it Means

International days are announced with the noble goal of stimulating the public to pay attention to a subject which affects society, yet is mostly ignored throughout the year. Issues that receive this kind of support, as with the World Autism Awareness Day, have relatively consistent characteristics: the media almost never covers them, the public shows lack of knowledge, and this leads to unfounded stereotypes, that worsen whatever ill-treatment the issue is already receiving. Cynics argue that such days are sales events, and calculated marketers undoubtedly jump this wagon on Women’s Day, but on an international day the media is encouraged to put as a top story what is normally left for the bottom of the page in a hidden sub-section if mentioned at all, and many outlets and newspapers would publish in-depth articles that reveal figures, statistics and personal stories, that replace stereotypes and ignorance with an appreciation of a pertinent, acute issue.

The first problem with International Women’s Day is that none of this is true regarding women. Since Me Too has erupted on October 2017, women’s issues occupy the headlines daily and are constantly in public awareness. If we are to be  sincere about the objective and outcomes of international days, it’s safe to say that since October 2017 every day is women’s day. This might sound as a hyperbole, but in fact even regardless of how since me too women’s issues became one of the primary subjects of the headlines, this is more or less the case: February 6 is international day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilation. February 11, the international day of women and girls in science. The week of March 8 is international women’s week. March 8, international women’s day. March 10, international day of women judges. April 3, international day against victim-blaming. April 24, international girls in ICT day (information and communications technology). May 24, international women’s day for peace and disarmament. June 23, international widows day (there is no widower’s day, hence this is mentioned here as a special day only for women). August 1, world breastfeeding week. October 11, international girl’s day (again, there is no boy’s day, so the day is mentioned here as a special day only for women). October 15, international day of rural women. November 19, women’s entrepreneurship day. November 25, international day for the elimination of violence against women. These are the official days announced as international by the United Nations, and each country adds to those national dates. For example, the Canadian list adds eating disorders awareness week; the Canadian sexual and reproductive health day; national day of action – girls action foundation; invisible work day; anniversary of N.B. women’s right to vote; sexual assault awareness month; mother’s day and mothers’ week (Canada is not marking a father’s day so these are included here as special dates only for women); national ovarian cancer awareness month (a prostate cancer month is likewise not marked, hence this is included here as a special women’s month); the 3rd Friday in September is take back the night week; October is simultaneously women’s history month and breast health month, and includes first nations women’s day; and November 25 to December 10 are 16 days of activism against violence against women, which include December 6 – national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. Other countries have similar or different women’s issues national dates added to the international ones.

Thus, there are 13 women’s days on the international calendar, and 7 more on an average national calendar. When weeks and months for women’s issues are included, the international count reaches 24 days, and the a typical national count covers 131 days devoted for women. I haven’t examined the overlap between international and national days, weeks and months, so a national number such as the Canadian 131, might become a little smaller when it’s women’s day twice a day. So, not every day is women’s day, but about 155 days a year are.

The second and much more grave problem is that when every day is women’s day, what will the media, including influencers on social media, do on women’s day to highlight women’s issues more than they are already stressed every day? The sad answer is that solely out of the need to find a way to say something over and above the regular headlines, the covering and references reach such levels of bluntness that it seems more than anything as incitement against men as a group. One example I encountered on women’s day last year was a “poem” expressing the writer’s decision never to marry, “in order to not be murdered,” which implies that every man may kill his wife. This is equivalent to a racist implying that every immigrant may rape, or to a supremacist implying that every black person may kill – but because of the atmosphere created on this date this “poem” was received with cheerful applauds by the same people who would reject such incitement if directed at other groups (and in fact, at the very same groups when labeled differently – ‘Immigrant’ instead of ‘men’, ‘blacks’ instead of ‘men’; we must pay attention to the fact that such feminist calls, and racist hate speech, are the very same statement directed against the very same humans – the same faces and names – only labeled by a different tag, “men”). This is not a new phenomenon, “kill all men” is a viral trend on TikTok among female teens, but aggravated on women’s day.

Intentional Women’s Day march, Paris, 2021 (photo by AP’s Francois Mori. Source: Publimetro)

Despite March 8 becoming battering day, many feminists argue that a day only for women called International Women’s Day is justified, claiming that men occupy the headlines around the year, because of their roles in public affairs. However, even if the feminist claim that men occupy the headlines around the year was true, these are rarely men’s personal issues that are being discussed. Rather, these are general social and state affairs relevant to both sexes. Should “men mentioning” count as discussing men’s issues, and require “balancing” with more discussions of women’s issues, when we don’t count “women mentioning” as constituting a discussion of women’s issues? After all, we would not accept just the mentioning of women’s names as position-holders as discussing women’s issues. We don’t count a report citing Nancy Pelosi commenting on taxation as “covering women’s issues”, just because a woman was mentioned. Her role is what’s at focus. In the same way, “men mentioning” is not the mentioning of men’s issues. The continuous representation of women’s issues in the media around the year, needs to be compared not to “men mentioning” but to discussions of men’s issues. If women’s issues occupy the headlines all year long and in fact women are the only sex whose personal issues as a sex are brought to light, having another day solely for women’s issues seems more than anything as the deepening of an imbalance, rather than balancing something. And in any case, it’s not certain at all that in the past years men have been mentioned in the media more often than women (reliable assessments are hard to come by, since those entrusted with such measurements repeatedly express ideological fervor and may skew results to arrive at predetermined conclusions, as when presenting a gap in the total national earnings of all men compared to the total national earnings of all women, caused by the expectation of some women of their husbands to earn sufficient income for both of them, as a supposed “pay gap” between two individuals doing the same job). What are we balancing here exactly?

Feminists tend to neglect this state of affairs and divert the discussion to the claim that men are being mentioned in the media disproportionately due to public positions they occupy, and that these positions are taken by them because of a “patriarchy.” As this assertion tends to obscure the question at hand of whether women’s personal issues need more representation, before continuing it’s worth digressing for a moment to make way for the acutely-needed discussion about exposure of women’s and men’s issues. 

Men do occupy public roles disproportionately and are therefore mentioned in the media in rather specific and narrow contexts more often (that do not necessarily amount to overall higher coverage of men vs. women) , and such public responsibilities and roles should indeed be more balanced. But the reason for these proportions doesn’t seem to be a conspiracy between the male members of society. When a public program was launched to attract women to municipal politics by offering them free funding for their campaigns – their male counterparts had to find their own sources while taking considerable risks – the program had to hand back to the government almost all the allocated funds. The reason was, that the funding was never claimed. One former Member of Parliament from the UK, a woman of the generation of Margaret Thatcher, argued that the low participation of women in public affairs is because feminism taught women to sit and wait for a helping hand, whereas to win a competitive or an elective position one has to be prepared to fight against odds. However, if waiting for such help was indeed the reason, we would expect that providing this help will increase women’s participation, while as shown here with the funding example, when the helping hand is extended, women still don’t show up. So waiting for help doesn’t seem to be the correct explanation. My hypothesis is that another feminist message was much more detrimental – the message, “prioritize yourself”, “think about yourself”. For generations, feminism has been continuously propelling among women the idea that they come first, they should think of themselves, make time for themselves, and prioritize taking care of themselves. While women embraced the massage wholeheartedly, it may have caused many if not most women, to regard the immense altruistic personal sacrifice that public affairs require, which can be radical and leave almost no time to oneself, as an offense against them – they have been told that their duty is to think about themselves, and take care of themselves. While half a century ago, men might have been partly accountable for the low participation of women in public and state affairs, it may be the case that currently, men are not responsible for the low numbers, it seems much more likely that feminism is.

Regardless of how we choose to explain female absenteeism, blaming men for it does not answer the question: If men are seldomly discussed as humans while every day is women’s day and women’s issues are in the headlines all year long, why does this need “balancing” with more discussion of women’s issues, in an international women’s day? This is probably the appropriate opportunity to mention that there is no international men’s day. When the United Nations received a request to declare a certain date as men’s day, which was a date marked by a few groups and small countries, the United Nations declined the request, and instead announced their date as Toilet Day. Those who are aware of discussions held among men’s rights activists might get the impression that a men’s day does exist, since the activists do mark that day, on November 19. But on that date no newspaper or TV channel mentions it, Google doesn’t change its logo as on women’s day, it is discussed by no educational system, and almost no person knows of this because it is not recognized by the UN and hence nor by any concern. To make this clear, in 2021 the UN has relocated Women’s entrepreneurship day, which was previously marked on November 15th, to  November 19th, and whatever little effect the activists attempted to generate will be run over by yet another women’s day. One which is formally recognized internationally and will be celebrated by various concerns and overshadow any attempt by those activists to address attention to men’s issues.

Women’s issues are currently an example of the very reason for announcing international days, but not as you would have expected. Some issues so persistently occupy the headlines that they make it necessary to declare a day to allow some other subjects to reach awareness, and women issues are currently part of those occupying headlines consistently – from menstruation to masturbation, through complaints and difficulties at work and throughout life to every imaginable aspect of women’s being. There are less and less women who think that Women’s Day is needed today, some are calling it narcissistic. There are also some feminists who object it (naturally through blaming men for something – I ran across the idea that it’s wrong because “men use it as an excuse to ignore women’s issues the rest of the year”, you probably encountered funnier feminist ways to blame men for participating in a day dedicated solely for women).

All this while, there are very few people, especially women, who have the slightest idea about men’s lives. Men as the person occupying a role rather than the role itself, are very rarely reported or even described. Men are also affected by the relations between the sexes. They are also facing difficulties such as working and raising children. Some are harassed or assaulted sexually, mostly by women. Others are discriminated against because of their sex by some of the feminist norms and culture. Many men are gradually developing stress and depression disorders as a result of the Me Too atmosphere and the hate speech that was legitimized and mainstreamed with it. This does impact human beings and society,  but is never discussed. As if men are not part of society as humans, only as functions, as “roles occupiers”, or “human tools”. These lives are stereotyped, by feminism, through the emphasis on a small minority of powerful figures or of culprits. The media almost never covers issues that affect mostly or specifically them as it does for women (homelessness, suicides, prostate cancer) nor their nearly equal share of issues afflicting women (treatment from employers when combining work and children, violence from partners, personal or institutionalized discrimination by sex), the public shows lack of knowledge, and this leads to unfounded stereotypes that worsen whatever ill-treatment the issues are already receiving – this is the very description of the type of subjects for which international days are used. What women’s day had become – battering, stereotyping and de-humanization – is part of what prevents any regard to these transparent human issues affecting tens of millions, as exemplified in the UN announcement of ‘toilet day’, an action echoing the battering and de-humanization.

I am not proposing to replace Women’s Day with a Men’s Day. Nor is it a good idea to have a day for each – this perpetuates a women’s day which has become, for lack of high enough pitches to out-shout the daily reporting, men-battering day. There should be one day for both: Human Day. It should be declared as dedicated to both sexes equally.

The cancellation of international women’s day simply means equality – equal public attention to personal issues of both sexes that are unique to their sex or more prevalent in one sex. Crucially, for this day to fulfill such a goal, the male side of Human’s Day must be voiced not only by the men who internalize a feminist narrative and when talking about men’s issues discuss only how men are affected by other men, while hiding their life experiences created by women so they would not upset the feminist women who allowed and permitted them to speak about men as persons; but also through the voices of men who are brave enough to speak about their lives among women, women being just as significant to men as other men, and I believe much more. Just as women are not restricted to speaking about how other women have affected or harmed them, but are free to talk about what concerns humans most – the relations with the other sex – a society devoted to equality must refrain from infringing this freedom of men and acknowledge their freedom to speak, as women can, on being harmed by the other sex including by organized political actions, and hate speech by a minority in the other sex against them.

You don’t receive freedoms, you realize them. You don’t need to wait for anyone. You can start marking Human Day as of now on March 8.

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2 thoughts on “The Cancellation of International Women’s Day and What it Means”

    1. The story of that day, is that it was announced during the 90s by one small country, a few years later some local advocacy organization from another country adopted it, and then after a few more years a request to declare the date Men’s Day was submitted to the United Nations. The UN declined the request and declared the requested date (which was celebrated by those who adopted it) toilet day.

      Here is the wiki of the history of the day and the UN toilet day page. This is very telling example of the need in a new concept of a shared philosophy of equality for both sexes by both sexes. Have a great day : )


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