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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 focus 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 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.

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.”