November 19 is “International Men’s Day”. Like many other days, this day is in danger of falling short of the inflation of “world” and “international” days. Perhaps he is particularly affected by this because there is not much to remember in the ruling family? Men’s Day is primarily dedicated to the health of boys and men, the problems and disadvantages of being a man, and the concern to find suitable role models for male adolescents. If we consider examples of highly questionable men who appear to be psychopaths, in control of world power, then this question is all too justified.
It is clear when it comes to health: men pay little attention to it, go to the doctor too late, live less well and die sooner. It’s your own fault, you might say. Concern for himself and others does not seem to fit the dominant image of men. But are men born like this? What is he doing?
This also applies to the downsides in education that are surprisingly understated: fewer boys have college degrees, or a Matura gap of about 15 percent compared to girls. The same goes here: Learning, discipline, and effort are “stuffy” for many boys compared to girls. But why?
Role models: Which ones are available and do we want them? The greater the distance from their fathers (unfortunately still mostly!), the more attractive the media or sports heroes many boys chase after. Model rulers who are considerate and compassionate, caring for those who suffer, and visibly striving for justice? Absent: Toughness, idiosyncrasy, and coldness towards the fleeing and the weaker are the hallmarks of many men at the front.
Accordingly, Men’s Day should be a critique of the conditions that make men what they usually are; and also a call against judgment and greater understanding as a precondition for change.
Josef Christian Aigner is a psychologist, educator and psychotherapist, and Univ. Professor at Innsbruck.