Why is International Men's Day so controversial?

Many argue that every day is men's day, but supporters say it's a time to discuss serious issues

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08:A model (detail) walks the runway at the Oliver Spencer show during The London Collections: Men Autumn/Winter 2014 on January 8, 2014 in London, England.(Photo by
(Image credit: 2014 Getty Images)

Today marks International Men's Day – an event that is becoming increasingly controversial.

The University of York has cancelled a planned event, arguing that a day to celebrate men's issues "does not combat inequality but merely amplifies existing, structurally imposed, inequalities."

With the gender pay gap barely narrowing, the number of women in high-powered positions flatlining, a lack of female political representation and the persistent problems of rape and domestic abuse, many argue that setting aside a day for men is both irrelevant and offensive.

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Labour MP Jess Phillips was one of several people to oppose holding a debate on men's issues in parliament last month, arguing simply: "it seems like every day to me is International Men's Day".

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Journalist Rachel Argyle agrees. "This is a man's world," she wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "Men are still running politics, law, sport, the media, entertainment and business. Men don't need their own 'day' – let alone a Parliamentary debate."

But Tory MP Phillip Davis won his battle to hold the debate today, with ministers discussing higher rates of suicide – the biggest killer of men under 45 – and lower life expectancy among men – who live for an average of four years less than women – as well as male victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

International Men's Day supporters argue that it's crucial to have a day to raise awareness of these issues, many of which are still seen as taboo in society and need wider recognition.

"When 13 a men a day in the UK are dying from suicide, it is essential that everyone in positions of power, trust and influence does everything they can to help men talk about the issues that affect them," the UK coordinator of International Men's Day told York Press.

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