Every year since 1999, on 19 November, International Men’s Day (“IMD”) is celebrated globally to recognise the ‘positive value men bring to the world’. This is a great day and one that should be noted in all our calendars (I promise this is not bias). Importantly, IMD is an opportunity for us all, regardless of whether we fall within the defining terms of ‘male’ or not, to recognise the positive impact men have on our environment and lives. Likewise, we celebrate the contribution of others on other days throughout the year.
The following six pillars outline the objectives of IMD:
- To promote positive male role models.
- To celebrate men’s positive contribution to society.
- To focus on men’s health and wellbeing.
- To highlight discrimination against men.
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
- To create a safer, better world.
These are fundamental now more than ever. For several reasons, we must highlight the positive value men bring to the world and continue its promotion. Whether it be to trump the alarming male suicide rate, or the negative portrayal of men influenced by the actions and behaviours of the minority, the six pillars cannot be reiterated enough. In the lead up to IMD, we here at Morton Fraser will consider each of the pillars in turn. We will also consider how each pillar corresponds with this year’s theme – ‘Better relationships between men and women’.
The promotion of positive male role models
The first of the six pillars – the promotion of positive role models – is discussed here. Who do we think of when asked about positive male role models? How can positive male role models promote better relationships between men and women?
Who are our positive role models?
A positive role model is an individual who sets an example for others and is respected. This may be down to their behaviour and mannerisms, or equally their accomplishments in life. From this, others draw influence from role models to become the best possible person (in their opinion). When contemplating our role models, subconsciously or not, we all too often draw influence from others based on their accomplishments – in other words, those on our television screens or listed in Forbes’ “Rich List”. This is absolutely acceptable – who would not want to be the next Musk, Bezos, or DiCaprio? I am not suggesting we must disregard these individuals – however, we must broaden our outlook.
There are normal men in life who meet the criteria of being a positive role model too. Whether anyone is “normal” is up for debate and not something I will attempt to settle here. In particular, I can reflect on the twenty-four hours leading up to writing this content and draw influence from a number of different positive male role models: the elderly man sacrificing his pullover for his shivering wife (a true gentleman with impeccable manners); the local fisherman braving the elements to provide for himself and his family; and the neighbour who is a stay-at-home dad. Neither of these individuals are celebrities seen on any television screen (at least, not to my knowledge). Instead, they are “normal” men. Regardless, I drew influence from their characteristics and accomplishments, and now consider them to be positive role models. Likewise, I’ve drawn influence from other “normal” men throughout my life to date – for example, my late father for his encouragement and hard-working nature; and my best friend (male) for his confidence and sense of humour. Again, neither were awarded a lead role in a blockbuster (and most likely never would based on their acting skills). However, the potential to draw positive influence from such individuals is far greater in my opinion.
Further, it is perfectly acceptable for us to have different role models. This is two-fold: (i) we can have different role models from the person sitting next to us; and (ii) we can each have a number of different role models, all of whom we draw influence from. We are all different and may interpret the behaviours and accomplishments of others in different ways. Further, it is perhaps important to take influence from a variety of role models to then mould ourselves.
Importance of positive male role models
It is important to promote positive male role models. In short, these individuals exert influence on the people we strive to become, and in turn, the impact we subsequently have on others. The visualisation of a circular economy comes to mind here. In short, the promotion of such individuals now will continue to live on indefinitely. Most importantly, whether we know it or not, we are all (hopefully) positive role models to others. This is worth bearing in mind constantly. The fact that “normal” men are more than capable of being positive role models is significant again – the majority of us will not make it to Hollywood but that must not stop us.
The importance of ‘negative’ role models must also be considered. It is often easier to determine what we do not want to become rather than what we do. Therefore, it is equally important to demote the negative male role models in our lives to assist us in being the best that we can be.
Better relationships between men and women
Inevitably, the promotion of positive male role models will assist in strengthening the relationship between men and others. This can eliminate stereotypes and promote equality. Further, the task of promoting positive male role models is not restricted to males. Likewise, those outside the definition of “male” can assist. For example, this depends on others being educated on having positive male role models. Other genders (including women), and the relationship between the genders, is necessary to achieve this.
Happy International Men’s Day when it comes! I wish you all the best on this day and beyond.
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