The Canadian Association for Equality hosted a press conference on January 31, 2013 to respond to its supporters and critics, explain its mandate and goals, provide announcements of upcoming activities and events, and share our vision for promoting gender equality.
Breaking: New Warren Farrell protest footage shows protesters engaging in violence, harassment, and intimidation, bullying an individual who attended to better understand why his two friends committed suicide and another individual being followed by a protester shouting “you are fucking scum, rape apologist, incest supporting women hating fucking scum.“
Breaking: Canadian Union of Public Employees supports efforts to ban men’s issues groups on campus
Breaking: University of Toronto Student Union and Canadian Federation of Students officially condemn “men’s rights” groups
University of Toronto Student Union Message
On November 16, 2012 the Canadian Association for Equality hosted an educational event with award-winning author Dr. Warren Farrell
The backlash against the event and our educational non-profit, which has unfortunately come to dominate much of the conversation, has been manifested in a number of ways:
- Technical: Our website has been blacklisted by the Web of Trust (WOT) and there is evidence of a coordinated effort to give our website poor ratings by flagging our site as having malware and viruses despite there being none. Our ability to send email has also been compromised by similar efforts.
- Logistical: Complaints were lodged to the University of Toronto in an attempt to impede our ability to book future venues. Complaints allege we referred to the event as taking place at the “University of Toronto” in violation of university policy, though promotions for most campus events routinely indicate the name of the university where they take place
- Physical: A protest was staged that blocked paid ticket holders from entering the event and impeded dozens of people who had planned to buy tickets from doing so. The protesters blocked the venue doors, violating fire and safety protocols by making it impossible at times to exit the building. They engaged in bullying, intimidation, shoving, assault and violence against police that necessitated the arrest and detainment in handcuffs of protesters. Full details are below.
-Existential: A petition is now circulating to have our group deratified by the University of Toronto administration, the Student Life. Meanwhile, events are being coordinated “Why Men’s Rights Groups are Wrong“, a massive superficial generalization based on our critics fabrication of what they imagine we stand for, and an attempt to avoid entering into a real dialogue by demonizing at once the entire movement to add men’s issues into the gender dialogue.
Now the big question for you is whether this level of response is justified by the actual messages Dr. Warren Farrell and our organization were there to share. We would invite each of you to read the promotional material of our event (in case our opponents made that difficult for you) and then watch the following videos. We’re open to debate, and our goal remains to foster dialogue and interaction, but that’s not possible when some people resort to violence and intimidation even before hearing what we’re saying.
Full length video of Dr. Warren Farrell speaking at the University of Toronto, Friday, November 16, 2012
A more professional video will be posted shortly by the Canadian Association for Equality Multimedia team, to include interviews with Dr. Farrell and coverage of his activities while he was in Toronto. Please check back later.
Read Warren’s reaction to the event, and watch Warren Farrell and Canadian Association for Equality Board Member Iain Dwyer Respond to Critics, Discuss Aftermath of Event
The Men’s Centre Campaign PSA Video gives some idea of the kinds of issues we believe men and women care about (full Campaign info and video transcript available here):
The Canadian Association for Equality invited Dr. Warren Farrell, an eminent thinker featured on Oprah, the Today Show and 1000 other TV appearances, a best-selling author on gender and equality, a Financial times top 100 thought leaders, and a regular speaker to parent, teacher and psychology groups, to share timely advice on what can be done to transform the boys crisis into an opportunity to better the lives of both boys and girls.
Our large scale promotional efforts attracted some attention.
And then a lot more attention following this post by Socialist Worker, which launched a concerted initiative to vandalize or remove posters, setup a group focused solely on the demonization of the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society, and to plan a protest at the Warren Farrell event. That protest was orchestrated via this facebook event and then through the e-mail list of the Ryerson University School of Social Work.
The sad story of the Sidney Smith (University of Toronto) banner
First the banner was vandalized:
Then this unapproved second banner was added along side
The following day both banners were removed, though ours was authorized to be left up until after our event. We went ahead and purchased and approved another banner to have hung. A few days later it was also removed, though left dangling on the floor.
At the Warren Farrell Event – Inside versus Outside
Inside the Auditorium a peaceful conversation took place about fatherlessness, video game addiction, boys’ declining academic performance and university enrolment, and how gender roles hurt everyone, limiting women’s economic options and leading to the “disposable” men in which men are far more likely to end up in the most dangerous kinds of employment
Meanwhile outside the auditorium a peace-invoking while violence-engaging protest prevented over 100 people from hearing any of this
An interesting blog post – Part I: Warren Farrell Comes To Toronto (Or Why I’m A Dickhead)
One of the protesters decided to help me out. She approached me aggressively, swearing in my face, calling me a scumbag for no other reason than that I appeared to be asking to go inside.
I adapted as peaceful a tone as I could and answered her, “I’m just here to learn. I’m not interested in choosing sides at the present. I just want to hear the guy out.”
“You’ll pay ten dollars just to hear him out?” she sneered, her spittle still flying in my direction.
“Yes, I said. I consider knowledge and learning valuable. I don’t mind spending a little pocket money to acquire some,” I responded, hoping to diffuse her attack by being as reasonable as possible.
Canadian Association for Equality Response
We had hoped our critics would have added their perspectives to this debate, but instead they not only opted to stay outside, they also set themselves up as arbiters of what others should be allowed to hear. A great number of people came with open minds to hear both sides. Our critics thought it their privilege to rob these individuals – men and women – of their right to decide for themselves the merit of our message.
In assuming male attendees would unthinkingly be turned to hate or in attempting to “protect” women from the seeming offensiveness of our message because they feel they know better, these protesters have exposed their own sexism.
In their calls of “hate speech,” they have made claims against our group – the promotion of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, incest, rape and violence against children, all without a shred of evidence – that itself constitutes actionable hate speech (eg. Danielle Sandhu, former President of the U of T Student Union: “this is a group looks at.. which marginalizes the experiences of women in our cities and our communities. The violence that our family members experience, that our children experience. Particularly, they defend rape, they defend incest, they defend violence against children and we do not want any of this on campus”)
Furthermore, both the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education recognize the problem with boys’ education. The TDSB has even setup a “Boys Strategy” and Chris Spence, renowned Director of Education for the TDSB, launched a boys focused school and statses on his TDSB webpage:
A boy without a father is like an explorer without a map: Today, one of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school, rests on a single question: Does he have a man in his life to look up to?
We don’t believe the government or the school boards are promoting misogyny when they point out the very real problems boys are facing. The modern world is starting to understand it is not only possible to balance an interest in girls issues with an interest in boys issues, but that marginalizing either area, or pitting one against the other, works to the detriment of everyone.
The Canadian Association for Equality maintains its commitment to fostering dialogue that attempts to broaden both the depth and breadth of the gender discourse. We hope you will give the above videos some serious consideration and ponder some of the issues raised about the status of boys. We expect and respect debate and disagreement, but to refer to our earlier question, once you watch the videos and understand the messages we are putting forward, ask yourself if any of it justifies censorship, hate, intimidation and violence? Now in an ironic way the controversy generated a huge amount of benefit to the Canadian Association for Equality. Our membership has grown exponentially, we are now on the radar of the nation’s mainstream media, and we have much greater public interest and awareness. With a heightened profile, and having learned a good deal of lessons, we continue with our educational programs and as always we invite you to learn more and to get involved. Whatever your point of view, clearly we agree these issues need further attention.