Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This Is Not How You Get Rid Of Misandry...

(This post originally appeared at Good Men Project last week. Yes there are differences between what you see here and what is at GMP. I'll explain those in a later post because honestly its enough for its own small post.)

Last year Warren Farrell hosted a Men's Issues Awareness Event in a University of Toronto lecture hall. People came out to protest his efforts.

Sarah Santhosh, student at Ryerson University, set out to create a group that would offer a forum for men to speak up about mental health, suicide, violence, and other gender inequalities and issues. Sounds like a good idea right? I would think that for male students to have a place where they can gather and work on the things that are harming them would be a positive thing.

It seems that there are those that think otherwise.

Much like the protesters that tried to shut Farrell out from holding his forum, Ryerson Students’ Union seems to have taken the low road.
An effort to guard the empowerment of women’s voices on campus took form Monday when the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) swiftly adopted a bold new policy rejecting the concept of misandry – the hatred or fear of men.
Two days before Santhosh was set to have her meeting with the Students' Group Committee, the Students' Union has passed a policy that rejects the concept of misandry*. Denying the ways in which men are harmed is an act of guarding the empowerment of women's voices?

Men must be silenced in order to protect women?

Rather than talking about the issues Santhosh and her group were bringing up, or at least showing how these issues are being discussed in other ways and thus there being no need for forums that focus on male voices (which is common assertion among women's advocates) they have decided to use official policy as a shovel to bury them.

Neda Hamzavi, a faculty of community services representative on the RSU Board of Directors (BOD), had a few choice words to say when she brought up the policy on women's issues.
There’s been a lot of work across campuses not only in Ontario but also across the country that have been working sort of [as] anti-women’s rights groups.
I can't help but notice that there seems to be no mention of how Santhosh's efforts to create a space for men is tied to these anti-woman efforts.

But what I find real interesting are the three things that are being specifically rejected by this policy:
4. Groups, Meetings or events [that] promote misogynist views towards women and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right to bodily autonomy, or justifies sexual assault
Again where is the proof that Santhosh's group promotes these things? Surely if her and her group are promoting misogyny there is evidence of it right. A blog? An email? A nasty reddit post? In the constitution or other defining documents of her group?
5. The concept of misandry as it ignores structural inequity that exist between men and women
Most people that actually understand what misandry is about know know full well that it doesn't exist in the place of misogyny. It exists in conjunction with misogyny. They are both happening at the same time. Hatred and fear of women is misogyny. Hatred and fear of men is misandry. One does not negate the existence of the other.
6. Groups, meetings events or initiatives [that] negate the need to centre women’s voices in the struggle for gender equity.
How many times have we heard the line that equality is not a zero sum game? Well if its not a zero sum game then how exactly does the existence of male voices in the struggle for gender equality negate the need for women's voices to be the center of that struggle?

The irony the situation is not lost on Santhosh, "The ironic thing is my voice is being silenced right now because I can’t even form a group without having to face this really back-handed deal that’s really attacking our group."

Marwa Hamad, vice-president equity at the RSU commented, "I think it’s important to remember that when we’re talking about dismantling patriarchy, we’re talking about supporting men, we’re talking about supporting women [and] we’re talking about supporting the entire gender spectrum."

How exactly does one simultaneously support men and shut out attempts at supporting men?

What do you think? Is there room for voices that are supportive of men and women? Or must support for one be pushed to the side for the sake of the other?

Simply put Ryerson Students' Union you blew it. More specifically Neda Hamzavi, you blew it.

You had a golden opportunity to work with men that are trying to help themselves (which also helps women, in case you forgot) and form a united front against issues and problems that harm EVERYONE. And you blew it. So the next time you are frustrated over men that refuse to listen to you because you're a woman I want you to think about your actions here.

Think about how instead of taking this chance to connect with men on some level other than limited allies you pushed them away.

Think about how instead of encouraging others to speak up for themselves you chose to silence them.

Think about how instead of forming a united front you dug the dividing lines even deeper.

On a lesser note this is the kind of behavior that causes such polarization between the different sides of the gender discourse. Instead of trying to meet part way and get things going these women's advocates choose to double down in their own ignorance (and probably hatred) in the belief that speaking up about men's issues inherently harms women. They would rather keep those voices silent, just to then turn around and complain about how those issues going unresolved hurts women and how more men are not speaking up.

Painful. Simply painful.

(* - Just so we are on the same page here let me say real quick what I mean by that. What I'm talking about is the fear, hatred, and distrust of men. That's it no more no less. There is no "...by women.". It can come from men as well as women. There is no "...that happens in the place of misogyny.". They are both happening at the same time. There is no "....that happens in the same ways that misogyny occurs.". Even though they are both happening they are not exactly the same.

Fear, hatred, and distrust of men and women happens in different ways with different causes and effects. There is no reason, or point, to try to make one out to be worse than the other or trying to pretend that one does not exist or that one is only happening because of the other. They are both bad and they both hurting everyone.)