My response to… myself? (Toronto Star)

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I was interviewed recently by the Toronto Star for an article on CAFE’s attempts to start up the Canadian Centre for Men and Families.  It can be viewed in it’s entirety at The Toronto Star.

Adam McPhee is a man. In his eyes, that puts him at a great disadvantage.

This is inaccurate, as I do not feel that being a man places me at a great disadvantage.  I do, however, feel that men often get the short end of the stick.  Men are disadvantaged in ways that women are not, and these are not readily acknowledged or discussed.  If we do not acknowledge or discuss these issues, how will they ever be remedied?

There are certain disadvantages identified by women which actually affect and impact men as well.  However, all the attention for these issues is often focused solely on the disadvantaged women, while the men who are equally disadvantaged are ignored.  The experiences of men are swept under the rug and society pretends that it is a one-sided issue.

This one-sided perspective, in refusing to recognize that some men also suffer the same issues, actually exacerbates their suffering.  This is further compounded by the relentless tendency of many feminists to paint all men as solely responsible for the disadvantages that women endure.  This accusation is not only inaccurate, it is unfair to men in general and, more so, to those men who suffer from the same issues which these feminists are addressing for women.

That being said, women also have issues which men do not.  However, women receive far more attention for the issues that they alone suffer than men do for the ones that they suffer alone, or those that they share with women.

McPhee is one of a small but swelling group who believe men have become the new underclass. He hopes to open a mancave that will serve as a refuge for his downtrodden brethren. The Canadian Association for Equality, a men’s rights group of which he is a board member, has launched a campaign to establish the first “Centre for Men and Families” in Toronto.

A “mancave”, really?  My mother read that and remarked that it was akin to calling “Nellie’s” a “cat den.”

Again, I don’t feel men are an underclass, nor do I feel women are an underclass.  I believe that both men and women have issues, but society pays more attention to women’s issues or focuses solely on the impact on women when an issue actually affects people of both genders.  Men should not be ignored as heavily as they are, nor should they be scapegoated for that with which they must also contend, such as rape and intimate partner violence.

But some gender equity advocates oppose the opening of the venue, fearing it will help CAFE propagate what they view as a misogynist and anti-feminist agenda.

Some in the Men’s Human Rights Movement (MHRM) challenge feminist views when they feel they are inaccurate or distort a social issue.  Although it can easily be viewed this way, it is not often anti-feminist.  I myself would not call myself “anti-feminist”, but I do challenge some staunchly held views that are expressed by feminists when I feel they are off-base.  Some obviously feel that to challenge and criticize any aspect of feminist ideology at all is to be “anti-feminist”.  From here, their logic of semantics takes a downward spiral by taking “anti-feminist” and turning it into anti-woman; anti-woman is then naturally turned into misogyny.

“Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.”

-Andrea Dworkin, Right-Wing Women

McPhee, who was sexually abused by a girl when he was a teenager, adds there is a lack of support systems for male victims of domestic abuse.

I wouldn’t say sexually abused, as “abuse” gives the impression of an ongoing occurrence.  For more on that incident, see the end of my article on the Ryerson Student Union.

Local women’s rights advocates agree today’s males face many hardships, but disagree with CAFÉ’s methods of solving them.

And the viable alternative they offer is…?  Do they agree with violent protests by feminists attempting to shut down events which are organized to provide a forum in which men and women can openly discuss these hardships that these same WRAs agree exist in society?

“They tend to be more frustrated about women’s rights being protected and women’s equality being promoted, rather than men’s rights being violated,” says Sarah Blackstock, director of advocacy and communications at YWCA Toronto. “If we’re trying to build a society marked by compassion and equality, this centre won’t help us do that.”

According to the Canadian Charter, rights are sex-neutral.  As such, there should be no “women’s rights” to protect, just people’s rights.  These rights should be protected as equally as they can.  Highlighting the lack of support for men, where there is support for women, does not try to undermine the protections that women have, it simply attempts to achieve them for men.  See the difference?

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

CAFE has attempted to open chapters at several campuses across Canada in the past year, only to be met with heated protests. In June, the Canadian Federation of Students put forth a motion to oppose “men’s rights awareness groups” like CAFE, alleging they “provide environments of sexism, patriarchy and misogyny to manifest and be perpetuated on campus.”

I suppose being attacked for promoting awareness of the issues men face does constitute an environment of sexism, just not the way they are implying.  The Canadian Federation of Students is obviously not above victim-blaming.

Last November, CAFE came under fire when several women who protested at one of their University of Toronto events, featuring guest lecturer Dr. Warren Farrell, were later profiled on the website register-her.com. The site is run by U.S.-based men’s rights website A Voice for Men and is dedicated to exposing females they allege are “false rape accusers” and bigots.

McPhee denies CAFE is affiliated with the website, denouncing its actions as “completely wrong.” The organization insists it is not launching a war on womankind.

I rarely “completely” take any side, as I see truths from multiple perspectives (and I feel a lot of truth is based on perspective).

CAFÉ is definitely not affiliated with AVFM.  The reporter, Alex, asked me about any affiliation with AVFM.  He said that AVFM did a lot of promotion of CAFÉ’s events, and people may infer an affiliation because of that.  I pointed out that AVFM is interested in men’s issues.  As such, obviously they are going to promote events that are designed to bring attention to men’s issues.  This does not mean there is an affiliation, simply a mutual interest in the issues that affect men and boys.

As for the protesters from one of our events that AVFM posted on their website, I said that I did not believe they posted anything other than their names that wasn’t already public.  I said if I disagreed with anything, it would have been the posting of their names, as information is all too easily accessible in this day and age.  However, that being said, if these protesters really believed in the things they posted on their already public twitter accounts, why would it be a problem to have it posted?

I do not hide behind a pseudonym for my musings on gender issues, and I am more than open to discussion on anything I have written about.  Arguing for your privacy against someone showing what you have written on the internet is akin to complaining about someone reading your writing had it been done with chalk on the sidewalk.  Releasing their names may be going a step further than I would, but I don’t see an issue with showing the hatred they also espoused on their social media feeds.

SlutWalk organizer Colleen Westendorf agrees spaces are needed to discuss men’s issues, but questions CAFE’s motives.

“Their approach seems to blame feminism for the suffering of men,” she says. “They say they’re interested in gender equality, yet they deny the ways women are still hugely over-represented in experiencing violence and highly under-represented in positions of power.”

I would like an example where CAFÉ has done this?  Anyone reading this can feel free to find me such examples, since Westendorf didn’t provide any documentation or corroborating evidence.  With no examples of CAFÉ doing this, how can someone dispute her claims?

I admit that I think men are more over-represented in experiencing violence, especially outside of the home, but this does not mean that I deny women’s experience of violence.  I could just as easily say that Westendorf denies the ways in which men are under-recognized in experiencing violence and are over-represented in positions of subjugation.

But McPhee argues feminists have swung the gender pendulum too far in their own direction.

“Feminists talk about raising women’s equality to that of men,” he says. “Meanwhile, they’re not raising anything for the men who were already below the women.”

This article discusses how Women’s Rights Advocates acknowledge that men have issues and need their own space, while at the same time trying to impede a group that is attempting to provide them with such a space.  This is like offering your hand to someone to help them, but then using that same open hand to slap them across the face.

My cousin Nick said it best, “the way the article was written, down to its title and some of the comments afterwards, just show why we need movements like this.”

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6 Responses to My response to… myself? (Toronto Star)

  1. zulu127 says:

    Thank you for all your hard work.

  2. reyeko says:

    So I guess Toronto Star is affiliated with CAFE then? No? What do you mean reporting on something doesn’t count as affiliation?
    Also how many times have these papers that these reporters work for reported on criminals, giving out names and information? What’s the difference with what AVfM did? Not much other than the fact that people will always look for a way to undermine men’s rights groups, like that woman from the YWCA, AVfM could have posted pictures of kitten and denounced those protests and protesters without posting any information about them and people would still have called it misogyny.
    Also according to police statistics for Canada men and women suffer about equal rates of violence but men suffer extreme violent far more than women while women suffer less extreme violence far more than men. If you talk only about domestic violence the GSS2009 found 585,000 male victims and 601,000 female victims making men 49.3% of victims of domestic violence.

    • eyeofwoden says:

      In regards to AVFM, my way of looking at things is often to remove the person (AVFM in this case) from the equation and to instead focus on the act. Instead of asking “do you think AVFM was right to post the protesters public feeds”, instead ask “do you think hateful messages on twitter should be highlighted or deleted?” It is not that different from the feminists who decry misogynistic or threatening comments on twitter. I’ve seen feminists on both side of the debate. Some want a report abuse button while others, such as Steph Guthrie, think that this is not the route to go (Read more here: http://stephguthrie.com/2013/08/06/twitter-rape-threats-and-garden-variety-misogyny/). Jezebel certainly thought posting hateful twitter messages on their site was a better alternative to “reporting abuse” and making them disappear forever (http://jezebel.com/5958993/racist-teens-forced-to-answer-for-tweets-about-the-nigger-president). They certainly didn’t mind posting their names, schools, etc. as well as contacting those institutions in order to get them in actual trouble (expulsion, disciplinary action, etc.).

      In short, I read feminist writings as well, and I don’t completely disagree with them either. However, no one is calling them out on just about the exact same behaviour. In the case of Jezebel, they even went so far as to contact their schools to try and get them in academic trouble, thus directly affecting their lives under the notion of holding them accountable to their behaviour. However, they also had semi-noble intentions, as the closing sentence said “Whatever the case, they surely will have learned the lesson about how their conversations on social media are not private and that their words do, indeed, have an impact.”

  3. Baldwin bravo says:

    I really dislike the ‘pendulum’ analogy. To anyone who is genuinely concerned with actual gender equity, it should seem like a rather defeatist mindset.
    If gender equity is a pendulum, then it is only a matter of time before it swings too far in one direction or the other… that’s what pendulums do, the swing from one side to the other, never stopping. the pendulum will only stop at dead center when the clock is broken; at which point nobody knows what time it is

    • eyeofwoden says:

      I don’t like it either, but I acknowledge it for what it is. If we acknowledge something as a pendulum, then we can be more conscience of it in advance of it swinging as far the next time. I can’t picture it ever standing still (and if that means not knowing what time it is, I’d rather it not :P), but at least we can try to minimize it, or alter the causes that are making it swing so much (like making gendered laws and policies, i.e. VAWA in the states).

  4. Anything that contravenes the feminist narrative will be given the tarbrush treatment by the mainstream media. Ditto anything that speaks up in a political voice that is unapologetically male. Feminism is without a doubt the ruling paradigm of the Western world today – and MOST of the world, for that matter. No surprises here.

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