November 19 was international men’s day and this is a day to celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. It is a day to highlight positive role models and raise awareness of men’s well-being. Looking at my facebook timeline, I was struck by the fact that there were hardly any posts about International Men’s Day on my timeline on that day. In contrast, my timeline is filled with posts celebrating women every year on March 8. That got me thinking – in our fight for women’s rights and acknowledging women have we forgotten to appreciate the men in our lives and take all they do for granted?
But what about myself? It has been a crazy week where I have been working pretty late in the evenings……but no matter how busy I am, I would probably have sacrificed a couple of hours of sleep to write a post on International women’s day even if it had been just a few lines. But I didn’t even mention anything on social media on November 19, although I read a number of interesting posts on LinkedIn that day.
So this post is long overdue!!! It does not have pictures in it because the post would be way too long with them. This post also has no names because there are too many to name here.
I was born in a country where there were (and still are) traditional gender roles. I currently live in a country where men and women who do not fit in these traditional gender roles are still very often made fun of, not taken seriously or even mocked.
I am married to a man who is often made fun or criticised, to put it mildly, for not being “manly” enough (e.g. he enjoys going shopping, his idea of a great evening is not settling down with a beer and watching football…)
I am thankful for the many men in my life who do not fit traditional gender roles.
I am thankful for the numerous father figures in my life who helped heal, encouraged, supported, helped me become who I am today. I am thankful that I still have some of them around me and “discover” new ones who continue to encourage me in my life.
I am especially thankful to the man who taught me cooking and so much more, who broke many gender roles and who I miss even today.
I am thankful for the numerous spiritual father figures I have been blessed with whose lives show me a glimpse of the person God is as a Father.
I am thankful for the men who were there when I needed a “brother” to stand by me, protect or defend me. I am thankful for the “brothers” I have with whom I can laugh or joke around with without them joking and laughing at my expense.
I am thankful to the young men who see me as a wonderful mother figure and are to me the sons I never had.
I am thankful for the many male managers I learnt so much from, who believed in me, inspired me with their unique leadership styles, supported me in my personal and professional life, helped me discover talents within me that I did not know existed, had confidence in me when I had none and who healed the wounds that misogynistic managers had inflicted. I am thankful that I have so many male leaders around me even today who continue to inspire, support and encourage me.
I am thankful for the male doctors and surgeons who do not put me in a box but support me on a healing journey that has been unique and tailor-made for me. I had written about one of them here and I am so glad that my male gynaecologist, who knows me since years, sent me to him.
For the many #metoo experiences that marred my life and left ugly scars – I am especially thankful for all the men I know who, in ways known and unknown, have helped heal deep wounds, restore confidence and trust.
November is also called Movember, a month to focus on mens health and well being. It is a good reminder for me to have deep and real conversations with men, to give them the feeling that they are “safe” and can talk to me about their insecurities, worries and fears.
To quote Matt Haig “But know this. Men are not from Mars. Women are not from Venus. Do not fall for categories. Everyone is everything. Every ingredient inside a star is inside you, and every personality that ever existed competes in the theatre of your mind for the main role.”
Thank you again to the men in my life who have been such a positive influence, source of encouragement, healing, support and joy! Thank you to the men who have helped heal the hurt and damage caused by other men. Thank you to the father and brother figures, the wonderful male friends, the male colleagues, the male acquaintances, the male pastors, the male mentors – men who inspire and have the courage to be authentic, real and vulnerable. Thank you for being a blessing in my life and for the beautiful colours you bring to it.