Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Tuesday, 17 November 2015

York University Won\'t Be Marking International Men\'s Day

York University Won't Be Marking International Men's Day

The Debrief: An open letter to the university made them do a U-Turn on their plans to mark November 19

ICYMI, November the 19th is International Men's Day, a day created off the back of March 8th; International Women's Day. Whilst not as famous as it's female counterpart, Internatonal Men's Day is nevertheless celebrated as a platform to highlight issues faced by men in nearly 70 countries the world over.

This year, York University won't be recognising it.

After the University published a post on it's website about the importance of the day, they received backlash in the form of an open letter, co-signed by over 200 of the university's students. The main source of anger stems from lines in the statement as this; 'the men currently have to wait longer than women before they receive a State pension and at certain stages in life, they are less well protected by equality legislation than women.  These issues inevitably impact on men employed at the University and on the lives of our students.'

The open letter that responded to the university stated that men's rights 'cannot be approached in the same way as unfairness and discrimination towards women, because women are structurally unequal to men.' The writers did say that they recognised that men are affected by the partriachy too and 'are in support of a discussion concerning this, as well as increased attention to specific issues surrounding men’s health.' However they don't believe that the university comprehends the situation fully, 'We do not believe that the university statement engages with these complex issues with sufficient nuance or understanding. The failure of the Equality and Diversity Committee to do so undermines their self­proclaimed commitment to genderequality, and leaves us deeply concerned that their supposed investment in women’s rights is mere lip service.'

The university has responded by apologising for offence, 'We are sorry that this has caused unhappiness for some members of the University community who felt that the statement was inappropriate and should never have been issued.' They then go on to say that their aim was to help highlight mental health issues amongst young men, 'The intention was to draw attention to some of the issues men tell us they encounter and to follow this up by highlighting in particular the availability of mental health and welfare support which we know men are sometimes reluctant to access.'

However, their decision is clear, 'In the meantime, the statement marking this year’s International Men’s Day has been withdrawn and we can confirm that we will no longer be marking International Men’s Day 2015.'

Internet users have expressed their disappointment in the cancellation. Reddit user Mr_Rivers1 said, 'I go to york university, this is fucking shameful. As a disabled male student, I' writing to my student union. What a fucking joke this is. Marking international men's day is fucking NOTHING, its just aknowledging that men have problems too. You know, like making up a minority at my fucking university, or the fact that students at my uni, including male students, keep killing themselves [sic].'

Twitter user @Clementattlees takes a different view however, 

 

On the other hand, men's rights group New Fathers 4 Justice are reported to have said they may 'target' the university over their decision to cancel the day. Which is definitely not helpful to anyone.

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons