International Men’s Day was first established by Thomas Oaster on 7 February 1992, however, there have been initiatives to get this date in the diary since the 1960’s. In 1999, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh successfully reafirmed the annual day of celebration on 19 November. This marked the date of his father’s birthday and served to recognise how, on that date in 1989, the Trinidad and Tobago football team had united the country with their efforts to qualify for the World Cup.
The day gives focus to promoting gender equality, recognising the male role in society and celebrating men’s achievements and contributions to community, family, marriage and childcare. Ultimately, International Men’s day aims to address six themes:
- To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but every day, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
- To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
- To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
- To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
- To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
- To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential
You may ask yourself… Do we really need a day for men? Men have been dominating politics, business, religion, media, sport and even the family unit since forever… Well, yes, in fact we really do. Did you know that as of 2019, in the UK alone:
- As many as 12 men commit suicide every single day and 90% of all homeless persons living on the street are men.
- On average, 95% of the UK prison population are men and 7 out of 10 murder victims are also men.
- At school, girls outdo the boys at every stage of their education and of all the students who leave school and become chronically unemployed, 70% are young men.
- When it comes to money, recession and the pusuit of ‘success’, 84% of all suicides are men.
Dr Jerome Teelucksingh stated: “The observances of International Men’s Day are part of a global love revolution.” And he added that the day “is observed on an annual basis by persons from all walks of life, who support the ongoing effort to improve lives, heal scarred hearts, seek solutions to social problems, mend troubled minds, reform the social outcasts and uplift the dysfunctional,”.
Back in tango world, a culture known for its historical stereotypical gender norms and some might say ‘chauvanistic’ social graces, being a ‘modern man’ presents all kinds of pressures, responsibilities and conflictions. Traditionally, men must ask women to dance. Too bad if you are shy, inconfident or new to tango. Men must lead the dance itself, constantly coming up with ideas for steps and navigating the ‘ronda’ (the line of dance) amongst all the other moving dancers. Too bad if you rather dance the following role, are inexperienced or struggle to constantly think of all the right steps in the right order to please your partner. Too bad if you accidentally crash into another couple or lose your balance.
Indeed, it’s not all single malts and montecristos…
Fear not. Tango men are moving with the times! What it means to be a ‘man’ in tango is changing. Much is being accomplished socially to dissuade chauvanistic behaviours and free men of traditional role-driven responsibilities. There is more and more social recognition and discussion on these subjects within local tango communities with more and more direction and advice given via classes and mentorships to educate, encourage and set good examples.
Equally, the Queer Tango movement, founded in the 90’s, is taking our tango world by storm, making a significant and vital impact on these staunch, age-old traditions about who should lead and who should follow, who should ask and who should be asked to dance. Who is responsible for the ronda and all kinds of knock-on social traditions.
So yes, on the 19th November each year, we tip our hats to the ‘Tango Men’ among us!
The Telegraph – Do we really need an International Men’s Day?
Wikapedia – History of International Men’s Day
Photography – Thibault Cresp Photographie
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Posted by Rita Horne
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