Books Read in 2021 – 12. The Problem with Men: When is International Men’s Day? (And Why It Matters)

Genre: Comedy, Cultural comment

Narrative Style: Essay interspersed with personal anecdotes

Rating: 4/5

Format: Kindle

Published: 2021

Synopsis: On International Women’s Day, for the last few years, Richard Herring has taken it upon himself to deal with all the men on Twitter who want to know why there is no International Men’s Day. This book is the result of those interactions. He discusses why International Men’s Day is important, why men choose to ask about it on March 8th and what the wider political ramifications might be. In a humorous way, of course.

Time on Shelf: Not very long. I bought this earlier this year when it was on sale on Kindle for 0.99.

I like Richard Herring. He’s funny. I went to see his show, Talking Cock, in 2003 and it is one of the best comedy shows I’ve seen. I’ve always appreciated his efforts on International Women’s Day with all the annoying men who are only concerned with making the day about them. This book takes that one step further – looking at the reasons why these men insist on inserting themselves into International Women’s Day and what the wider ramifications are.

This is a simple book. It has one line of argument and it sounds very much like Richard Herring’s comedy style. And that is fine. It analyses the reasons why some men only want to know about International Men’s Day on International Women’s Day something which has always irritated me.

There are a number of levels at which this behaviour is problematic. First of all, there is the sheer arrogance of it. I don’t need to Google it, I know I’m right. Then there is the fact that these men are not interested enough in the answer to actually take on board when it is. The google statistics show that searches of this question peak on March 8th. It is some perceived injustice that drives them, a need to insert themselves into the narrative. Herring shares a story of himself as a young child having meltdown at another child’s birthday basically because it was not his birthday which sums these men up pretty well, I think.

Of course, as Herring points out, there is a more serious point to be made. These men are representative of a larger political movement that has gained ground over the last few years. When Herring first started advising the men who can’t use Google as to when International Men’s Day was we were yet to witness All Lives Matter and Straight Pride to name but two idiotic and dangerous responses to genuine abuse and injustice. It’s a symptom of the idea that if it’s not about me, it’s not important mindset. Cleverly, the right wing press has pointed white male anger towards oppressed groups rather than towards the oppressors who look so much like them. Herring has one chapter which asks is female equality the same as male equality and the answer is a single word. Yes. This is what these men need to learn.

This was worth reading, definitely as it’s very funny. It’s not very deep but it is successful in getting it’s message across.

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