Since 1999, Nov. 19 has been designated as International Men’s Day. The day has been used to celebrate men who are role models to their families, communities, and the world. This year’s theme is better relations between men and women.

Conflict between men and women is as old as mankind itself and has been depicted in Biblical tales, romance novels, movies, and television soap operas as well as real life courtroom dramas and “Me Too” era sexual harassment lawsuits publicized in the media.

Arguably the most consequential conflict between men and women on the national stage earlier this year was the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark legislation that gave women the constitutional right to an abortion. This decision is a legal win for “pro-life” men and women. However, many women argue that this male majority legal decision was driven by men seeking to control women’s reproductive lives. Women are not alone in this analysis, as many men disagree with the Supreme Court decision and support a woman’s right to choose.

Regardless of what side of the argument men find themselves on, there are things men can do to support women during this challenging time in our country’s history.

  • Men can be nonjudgmental when engaging in hot-button discussions that are important to women such as abortion.
  • The U.S. Dept of Health estimates that 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. Men can make a difference by being actively involved in family planning and supporting women with co-parenting.
  • Men can model positive behaviors for their kids through respectful treatment of all women and teaching young boys and adolescents to do the same. The display of healthy relationships between men and women can help counter the impact of aggression and assault against women that is persistent in the media that boys and adolescents consume.

Men need to take the lead in improving relations between men and women. Listening to women in an emotionally intelligent manner, respecting their right to self-manage their own bodies, and providing positive leadership at home, in our communities, and society at large are behaviors we all can celebrate.

About the Author: Frank Johnson, Ph.D., is the Director of Primary Care Behavioral Health at Community Behavioral Health, a division of the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.