History of International Men's Day
Calls for an International Men's Day have been noted since at least the 1960s, when many men were reported to "have been agitating privately to make 23 February International Men's Day, the equivalent of 8 March, which is International Women's Day" The date was informally viewed a male counterpart of Women's Day (8 March) in some territories of the Union, however due to the day's limited focus to historical events some countries of the former union have moved to adopt the more 'male specific' 19 November as International Men's Day, including Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia and Georgia.
In 1968 the American journalist John P. Harris wrote an editorial in the Salina Journal highlighting a lack of balance in the Soviet system, which promoted an International Women's Day for the female workers without promoting a corresponding day for male workers. Harris stated that although he did not begrudge Soviet women their March day of glory, its resulting gender inequality clearly exhibited a serious flaw in the Communist system, which, "makes much of the equal rights it has given the sexes, but as it turns out, the women are much more equal than the men." Harris stated that while the men toiled along in their grooves doing what their government and womenfolk tell them to do, there was no day when males are recognised for their service, leading Harris to conclude that "This strikes me as unwarranted discrimination and rank injustice." Similar questions about the inequality of observing women's day without a corresponding men's day occurred in media publications from the 1960s through to the 1990s, at which time the first attempts at inaugurating international Men's Day are recorded.
In the early 1990s, organizations in the United States, Australia and Malta held small events in February at the invitation of Thomas Oaster who directed the Missouri Center for Men's Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Oaster successfully promoted the event in 1993 and 1994, but his following attempt in 1995 was poorly attended and he ceased plans to continue the event in subsequent years. Australians also ceased to observe the event (until they re-established it on 19 November 2003) whilst the Maltese Association for Men's Rights continued as the only country that continued to observe the event each year in February. Formerly being the only country still observing the original February date, the Maltese AMR Committee voted in 2009 to begin observing the day on 19 November in order to be synchronized with the rest of the world.
Although International Men's and Women's Day are considered to be 'gender focussed' events, they are not ideological mirror images because they highlight issues that are considered unique to men or to women. The history of IMD primarily concerns celebrating issues that are considered unique to the experiences of men and boys, along with an emphasis on positive role models, which is especially "deemed necessary in a social context which is often fascinated with images of males behaving badly... In highlighting positive male role models IMD attempts to show that males of all ages respond much more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative stereotyping."
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