November 19th, was International Men's Day. As a man, I knew nothing about the day and quite frankly if I did, I doubt that I would have known how to celebrate it. What should I have done? I dunno, hammer nails into wood, hoon around and smoke up the tyres, lie around on the couch?
I did nothing, which is the best thing to do for International Men's Day because it's an inherently stupid day. I understand that issues like male suicide and men's health issues are important but is this day really necessary?
The point is that every day is International Men's Day and has been for a very long time.
Let's assume of a second that all the women of the world were allowed to stop working on the day of the year that the average wage that they are paid, finally runs out, relative to men.
If on average, women are paid only 82.13% of men, then the day that we should expect them all to refuse to do any work is October 28. I've got bad news for International Men's Day, the women would has stopped working 22 days before. Remember that date, it's important.
In 1975, on October 24, the Nordic country of Iceland staged what I think is probably the single greatest event in labour relations anywhere in the world. All the women of Iceland went on strike. October 24 was the date which was deemed that day of wage equivalency and so at 8am, around 90% of the women in Iceland, refused to do any work that day.
Fathers found that they had to take their children to work, as all of the schools and day-care centres were closed. All of this was also made all the more pertinent as 1975 was declared by the United Nations to be International Women's Year.
If we are going to have an International Men's Day, perhaps we should talk about the awful plight that men face, having to be paid 121.75% that of women and thanks to our "one size fits rich" superannuation system, also have to face the prospect of finishing with 50% savings in retirement.
By my reckoning, men make up 435 of 593 of all seats in Federal and State Parliaments across the country; so it's not hard to see why legislators don't really take women's issue seriously.
If the parliament really took harassment in the workplace serious, it would have taken action before Julia Gillard's now famous "misogyny" speech ever took place. The fact that it didn't indicates to me that parliament is too feeble to actively police the laws which it generates.
There are issues like harassment in the work place which men almost never face and women in public life often face the sort of threats, which even a decade ago would have been unprintable. How many times have you honestly heard of a male journalist being threatened with rape? Probably none.
Admittedly I'm not in a position of power and I don't command a six figure salary but let's be honest because I was born a white male, I won the jackpot of life. I don't face racial abuse, ethnic abuse and neither do I face abuse because of gender.
I know that this sounds stupid but I inadvertently did celebrate International Men's Day. I walked home from the train station alone at night and nothing happened.