The ongoing efforts of so-called “men’s rights activists” to use Canadian campuses as organizing grounds for their shamelessly reactionary and misogynist crusade against feminism were frustrated once again when a “men’s issues awareness” event scheduled to be held at the University of Toronto was disrupted. The event was hosted by the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), which operates as part of the community of anti-feminists who refer to themselves as “men’s rights activists” (MRAs).
With views characterized by their flagship online publication A Voice for Men—which describes feminism as “an ideology of hatred and violence,” and its advocates as either “insane” or quasi-fascist—MRAs’ supposed struggle for equality tends in reality to be focused on attempts to discredit feminism and on carrying out a vigorous campaign to depict female rape victims as liars. CAFE is no exception: while callously appropriating the language of egalitarianism, it has in previous months organized talks on Canadian campuses aimed at attacking the so-called “double-standards of feminism” and denying the existence of rape culture. MRAs have been known to go so far in their attempts to intimidate opponents (especially women) as to post their photos and personal information to an online registry known as “register-her.com,” in a boldfaced attempt at facilitating vigilante retaliation.
On August 5th, members of the Revolutionary Student Movement—a group which has consistently worked to deny MRAs the ability to organize on campuses across Canada—joined together with Toronto’s Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee and Proletarian Feminist Front, as well as other local activists, in order to shut down an on-campus outreach event organized by CAFE. Disrupting the talk with chants, jeers, and a rendition of The Internationale, the comrades were able to drive the MRAs from the room they had occupied, at which point university authorities, fearing a larger disturbance, cancelled the event. After the would-be audience dispersed, a handful of MRAs reconvened in secret and held a small discussion in an undisclosed location on campus. Hidden behind closed doors, isolated from both the realities and inhabitants of the real world outside, the event organizers had the nerve to declare their outreach event a success! Of course, if this meagre display is what CAFE considers a “success,” then we wish them many more such victories.
CAFE soon took their story to the right-wing press, though, and The National Post and Sun News responded by mocking the protestors’ supposed failure to disrupt the event, while simultaneously reacting in horror to this violation of the “free speech” of CAFE (one must wonder, if the attempts to suppress CAFE were as ineffectual as these press outlets claim, why the event warranted such alarm and fury from national news publications).
Despite their failure at UofT, CAFE will no doubt carry on their campaign of misogyny in Toronto from their new “Centre for Men and Families,” opened September 2nd. With their position at the ear of the right-wing press and their substantial Internet presence, MRAs will continue to propagate their rhetoric, and it is imperative that progressive forces continue to oppose these efforts and prevent this hateful and backwards movement from being able to organize into a potentially dangerous real-world force.