Canadian Association for Equality Statement on Sexual Victimization and the #MeToo Campaign

January 24, 2018

The Canadian Association for Equality wishes to ensure that the conversation around sexual victimization, which has been sparked by claims from women (and some men), leads to justice for all.

We condemn sexual violence unequivocally and recognize that it needs to be discussed. At the same time, we are alarmed that accusing people without supporting evidence amounts to punishing them severely without due process, and undermines the legal system.

It is time to reconcile two fundamental goals: supporting alleged victims and ensuring due process for alleged victimizers (protections that our society has worked hard for centuries to develop and sustain). Here is what we recommend in order to ensure that the #MeToo campaign will lead to real and lasting justice.

We call for a dialogue that requires respect for all voices, rejects vigilante “justice,” and prevents emotional catharsis from overshadowing the measured assessment of fact and opinion.

We suggest that productive discussion crosses the line into unhelpful accusation, when any of the following faulty views are asserted:

1. That all or most men are responsible for the actions of some.

2. That courts and society should “believe” women unconditionally (and disbelieve men).

3. That men or “privileged groups” have no right to speak about #MeToo.

4. That men as a class are uniquely responsible for creating and sustaining the gender system that produces sexual harassment.

5. That major life penalties (firing, resignation, destruction of reputation) are appropriate punishments for accused men, without due process or the presumption of innocence.

6. That the end (“justice” for women) justifies the means (harming or destroying the lives of innocent men).

7. That the #MeToo campaign belongs to female victims only; if the same experiences of sexual violence or misconduct occurred to men, those male victims would not deserve the same attention.

CAFE’s position is that productive dialogue must always recognize that claims of abuse cannot be equated with the fact of abuse. We unequivocally reject any suggestion that men are collectively guilty or should be collectively punished, which is not justice but revenge. We reject the idea that some or all men should be forced to accept or believe women’s characterization of female experience, without the opportunity to assert their own perceptions and experience. In short, we argue above all that productive dialogue must be founded on the premise of men’s and women’s moral equality.

Justin Trottier
National Executive Director
Canadian Association for Equality