Friday was apparently “International Women’s Day.” Social media was flooded with posts celebrating women. Even I shared a collage of some favorite Catholic women saints on Instagram, just because I liked most of the saints pictured and the witness they provide for my faith and vocation.
But in retrospect, the whole thing is a little unsettling.
Celebrating International Women’s Day is all well and good I suppose, though it has some socialist origins which I am not okay with but that’s a separate blog post… but while we’re at it, why don’t we have an International Men’s Day?
March is Women’s History Month, Friday was International Women’s Day, and there’s also a Women’s Equality Day and an International Day of the Girl… but why don’t we have a day to celebrate the men who support us, love us, protect us, and sacrifice for us?
A quick Google search will tell you that there is, in fact, an International Men’s Day but it’s quite clear that it doesn’t receive near as much attention as International Women’s Day or the slew of other “women-centered” holidays out there.
What about a day to celebrate the self-sacrificial men out there… the gentle, loving men who put their families first… honor their wives… give 100% of themselves to their kids… work long hours to provide for their family …
Or the ones who spend hours in confessionals absolving sins and bringing the peace of Christ… the ones who spend months overseas on deployment… the ones who work nights patrolling rough streets to serve and protect…
The career men, the stay at home dads, the single men, the married men, the discerning men, the men who give their lives to Christ in the priesthood…
Why don’t we celebrate them? Because if we’re celebrating International Women’s Day to commemorate the accomplishments and “equality” of women, then these men who give so much of themselves to love and to serve absolutely deserve to be celebrated, too.
It reminds me of earlier this week when, in the office I work in, a group of seminarians came for a tour. It was a group of some of the most polite, cordial men I’ve met in a long time. These are men in their late teens and early twenties who are so actively discerning God’s will for their lives that they’ve already given God a gigantic “yes” by attending seminary to see if God is calling them to serve as His priests. They have already put their lives in God’s hands in this way at a time when it seems so so difficult to be or to try to become a Catholic priest.
Sure, I know there are some bad men out there. Ones that hurt, use, take advantage, abuse, etc. They are broken souls in need of prayer. But I’m not talking about them here. Those men are not representative of all men and to lump all men into that category because of the disgusting actions of a few is a huge injustice.
Let’s celebrate the good, good men who bless our lives instead of helping to perpetuate a culture that says we as women don’t need them.
I think I found the bulk of the International Women’s Day stuff so unsettling because of the way so many of these celebratory posts painted it as “women” being this exclusive group… it conveyed, intentionally or not, an “us vs. them” mentality that seemed to imply the demand for something other than mere “equality” with men.
A culture that continually says that women are the same as men is implicitly saying that we as women don’t need men, that we can do everything ourselves, that we are “just as good” as men. I’m going to say something really controversial here… we do need men.
Good men complement us as women. Men have qualities that women do not have — they see the world in a way that we do not. Just the same, women have qualities that men do not have, and we see the world in a way that they do not. And there is nothing wrong with this — it’s the nature of things, the way that God created us, and in fact it’s quite beautiful. This doesn’t mean women are inferior or can’t have careers or do whatever they aspire to do because we aren’t exactly like men. It means we do those things in a way unique to us, because of those qualities and attributes we have because we are women.
Instead of casting aside our femininity in an attempt to be more like men like the culture would have us do (which in doing so implies that well, we must not be good enough since we’re trying to be more like men…) we should embrace the feminine genius as well as the beautiful complementarity that men bring to the picture.
Marriage is THE perfect example. I am a better person because Jesse complements me in so many ways. And I have no shame in saying that. But this also goes for the workplace or for friendships. Men and women need each other, whether personally or professionally, because our qualities bring out the best in the other. That is not to say that one is inferior than the other. We are complementary, and when we embrace that and celebrate it, it’s pretty darn beautiful.
So to the good, good men out there and especially the ones in my life — my husband, my brother, my dad, my cousins and uncles, my friends, my priests and pastors, THANK YOU for being the good men that you are. You might love and serve unnoticed and unrecognized, and you might not have a day honoring yourselves, but I celebrate and appreciate you and all that God created you to be.