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alex beam

To heck with International Men’s Day

I hope you are as excited about Nov. 19, International Men’s Day, as I am. “It is an occasion,” its organizers say, “for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care, while highlighting the discrimination against them.”

Amen! Speaking as a man, let me be the first to say: Finally, somebody appreciates us!

At last an occasion to celebrate our achievements and contributions. Being a man is like being a CIA agent: “Your successes are unheralded, your failures are trumpeted,” to quote president John F. Kennedy. Yes, it’s true that Kennedy was the 34th in an unbroken string of 43 men who have served as president, but as we are all too aware, women are making disturbing inroads into politics, as into other fields.

A visitor to our fair city might think that men are amply memorialized, say, along the gorgeous, amber-leaved Commonwealth Avenue mall that leads from Charlesgate to the Public Garden. It is true, there are many statues to men of notable achievement, such as Leif Erikson, the Viking who discovered Cambridge, and Domingo Sarmiento, a 19th-century Argentine president who, um, once visited Boston. I think.

Yet within our lifetimes, three women — Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone — have been added to the hallowed statuary arrayed along the Back Bay. True, we bunched them together in one little plot, making the point that three women = one man of distinction, e.g., Patrick Andrew Collins (who he?). But the trend is clear: Men are diving headlong into the dustbin of history.


You know the disturbing facts: Women live longer than men. Women outnumber men in the United States. A lot more women attend college than men. Women earn — well, let’s leave the whole wage-earning discussion aside for now. It doesn’t really fit with the Men’s Day aim of “highlighting discrimination against” men.

Now, more than ever, women are running the show.

Take, for instance, corporate America, which very much runs the show. I know what you are thinking: You have seen those glossy portraits of the smug, white male directors that festoon the inside front cover of every annual report in America, and you think, looks like a testosterone sauna to me. It’s hard not to admire those serious, dedicated men who sit around and fire people, while awarding each other huge bonuses for “outsourcing” and “managerial efficiency.”


Here, too, the picture is changing all too rapidly. Women now run over 5 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. Five percent! Men are just a hair’s breadth away from becoming an under-represented minority in Country Club World. Furthermore, according to my scientific tabulation, women rule 14 percent of the 193 member states of the United Nations. True, this number incorporates a toothless (figuratively, not literally) queen or two, but female world domination seems just a moment away.

Maybe you know the famous Cole Porter lyric, “I hate men/I can’t abide them even now and then” from “Kiss Me Kate”? That catches my sentiments precisely.

Throughout my life, women have treated me more fairly, with greater intelligence and compassion than men. I chalk it up to evolution; men want to kill other men, and women seek men for mates. I’m a lover, not a killer. To heck with International Men’s Day, and the rotten gender it purports to champion.

It’s true that International Men’s Day is about where International Women’s Day was 30 years ago: not widely observed. But men are so needy, please help them celebrate. Step up and give a man a hug — he thinks he deserves it.


Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at alexbeam@hotmail.com.