Where my son is concerned, there is a lot of stuff in our world that gives me worry: BPA, pesticide use, whether he will start school this year or next, and how he will deal with being a bi-cultural kid. But nothing concerns me more than the potential impact of Mens’ Power Activists. These groups prefer the collective term: ‘Men’s Rights Activists’, but as Steph Guthrie points out in this primer piece, these hate groups are not in fact seeking rights, but rather a reassigning of power OVER women.
These groups, and their attempts to ‘reach out’ to the general public, including parents of young boys, present serious threats to our children. For this reason, MPAs need to be a phrase on the tip of our tongues, and their polemics something we are ready to dissect. Perhaps most dangerous is the set of tools MPA groups are using to hook people into their flawed logic. Under the guise of serious and emotive topics such as: suicide, a man’s access to his children after a divorce or separation, and the success of our boy-children in eduction these groups are aggressively fighting for their ‘right’ to speak hate against women, rape and feminism in public spaces such as universities and colleges.
Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of the statistics that our boy-children are more likely to commit suicide than girl-children . Specifically, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women (though girls are much more likely to make suicide attempts than men). For all the truth in these figures, there is no absolutely no connection between feminism, and the very real suicide rates of men. As starkly flawed as this argument is, this is not the only example. These groups are ready and waiting to offer a selection of false, weak and viscous arguments (like, rape culture is not real) where they attempt to link fabricated struggles faced by men with the feminist movement. Here are just two examples:
The reality of men’s second-class status within Western society is demonstrated by a number of well known, but ignored facts. This is a short sample for illustrative purposes only.A few examples include that Men die roughly 5 years earlier than women, men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women. In addition, 93% of workplace deaths are male, and while courts enforce financial obligations to women with children, they have no reproductive rights. The point of this summary is not to build an exhaustive case, or to list dozens of examples with cited sources; but to outline, in abbreviated terms the social and political landscape which requires a vigorous activist movement in defence of the human rights of men and boys. – Vancouver Men’s Rights ActivistsThis example from reddit’s Mens’ Rights page is an example of MPAs current interaction with contemporary rape victims:
r/feminism xpost. Title: “Girl could be expelled from college for creating ‘intimidating environment’ for her rapist (help share this!)” Real story is: Girl accuses long time ex-BF of rape. School finds no evidence. Girl goes on to defame man.
For all the straw within these arguments, as a mother I can’t help but acknowledge the fear and concern I have knowing institutions such as the University of Toronto are comfortable hosting these groups on their campus. This past December, University of Toronto’s Mens’ Issues Awareness Society hosted Warren Farrell. Farrell, in addition to being somewhat of a cult figure, also wrote a 1977 text that was pro-rape culture, pro-incest, and continues to speak openly about his misogyny. Despite the vociferous response by human rights groups on the campus and in the city following Farrell’s ‘talk’, the university is permitting the group to host another speaker this coming month. A professor from the University of Ottawa, the upcoming speaker is equally as vicious and inaccurate in her accusations around feminism, and it’s impact on the position of men in our western society. So, if U of T, one of the country’s top institutes of study, is allowing this hate group to spew pro-rape and openly anti-woman rhetoric on their campuses, how can I protect my son from this vile message?
This message of misogyny and hate might not ever be heard directly by our children. Our children may have an awareness of their privilege (if they have it), and will avoid this type of cis-heteronormative rhetoric. Our children will hopefully recognize that being a boy or man is a performative action that they can see as flexible and ever-changing. They may even be brave enough to take part in protests against this type of behaviour, where violence against women is not only accepted, but encouraged.
Despite these possibilities, this type of hate does impact my son’s environment. Because some people will listen -including some parents in the false belief that these groups speak for their male children. Some people will join MPAs. Some people will help them load images of feminists onto a website, labeling the women as ‘violators,’ sharing their personal information on the internet. Some people will join A Voice for Men and start to think that creating a False Rape Society is acceptable. And in many ways, this is going to permeate and poison the atmosphere where I am raising my feminist son. For my son, I feel that this is a fight that needs to be fought. And I will.
- I’m going to write an email to the University of Toronto letting them know my disgust at them allowing this to happen (again) on their campus.
- I am going to write an email to the University of Ottawa’s English Department informing them of my confusion over how they can employ someone with a hate agenda.
- I will go to the March 7th talk and protest against a woman who believes that men are not taking English courses because of feminism.
- I am going to share articles like this one and this one with other parents and acquaint them with these groups.
- I will pull down MPA arguments in public spaces such as Twitter and Facebook. Because they are all false and demonstrate an incredible manipulation of data.
- I will keep sharing with my son the feminist worldview that will help him recognize this hate speech as misogyny.
- I will continue to show my son his privilege and teach him that he can’t use it to intimate other people.
- I will open my mouth when I see misogyny happening around us – pointing out why it is wrong and who it is impacting.
- I will not be intimidated into silence by the aggressive attacks by MPAs in public forums.