PODCAST: Street harassment, men's rights activists, & hate speech: An interview with Michael Laxer

In this episode, Sarah Luca interviews Michael Laxer about street harassment, men’s rights activists, and how men can act as feminist allies and fight misogyny.

Michael is a political activist and the chairperson of the Socialist Party of Ontario. He writes for rabble.ca and published an article entitled: “Sexual harassment on the street: Taking misogynist hate speech seriously.”

Sarah Luca is the host of Womyn’s Word, a weekly show airing out of CHRY 105.5FM. This interview originally aired on August 7th 2013.

 

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • http://jeffblackman2001.wordpress.com Jeff Blackman

    Good interview. I strongly agree with your ideas surrounding “entitlement” and street harassment.

    I do take some exception to the suggestion that the men’s rights movement is an overlap of the pick-up artist community. I met a CAFE Ottawa rep recently, and his motivation is bringing to the forefront issues affecting men that don’t often get a fair shake (e.g., body image issues, mental health, double standards re: violence in media). From a shallow survey of online content, I do concede that much of the MRA movement is in bed with some antiquated & harmful ideas – but there are good people out there just trying to accomplish small things like opening men’s shelters. Dismissing anyone fighting for men’s rights as sexist/a PUA/etc only marginalizes people who just want everyone to be safe & respected. That they don’t see themselves under the same banner as the feminist movement is more an issue of organization than ideology I think.

  • Laur

    Jeff,

    “From a shallow survey of online content, I do concede that much of the MRA movement is in bed with some antiquated & harmful ideas – but there are good people out there just trying to accomplish small things like opening men’s shelters.”

    If these are really “good people”, why are they aligning themselves with MRAs? The writings and actions of MRAs aren’t merely “antiguated,” they openly support rapists and batterers. Indeed, the majority of men in their movement have been brought to court for battery and/or rape. Do you have any idea how much a woman goes through before deciding to bring a man in her life to the legal system??? (And put herself through the legal system).

    Some men do suffer from body image issues, especially ) gay men. Guess what?? They’re trying to please OTHER men.

    Women did set up, or do we control, the media, psychiatry, or legal system.

    Feminists do not want to oppress men. But men are not systematically oppressed in the way we are. They are not raped and battered by **women** in the way women are systematically assaulted by men. If they are assaulted by anyone, it is other men, for not living up to the standards men have met.

    If these are really well-meaning men, there are plenty of feminist women who would be willing to work with them.

    • http://jeffblackman2001.wordpress.com Jeff Blackman

      “Indeed, the majority of men in their movement have been brought to court for battery and/or rape.”

      That’s a very, very grave charge. What evidence do you have to support that?

  • Laur

    The men on these sites are up front about their experiences. They feel they’ve been wrongly accused of assault and/or rape. I got this from reading their sites; any women is free to read them, though I don’t necessarily recommend it.

  • http://jeffblackman2001@gmail.com Jeff

    Again, I ask for a hard source. There are assholes out there using the men’s rights / men’s issues banner to excuse loathsome behaviour. What of groups like Canadian Association For Equality which focuses their efforts on men’s health, media narratives surrounding men, the need for men’s centres & shelters, etc? They are currently planning on hosting a lecture at U of T this month on men’s diminishing academic performance, and they are the threat of protest is forcing the group to hire police protection, while the university’s student association is actively campaigning to shut the event down entirely.

    I feel you are using a convenience sample to base your judgements. This is a strange new movement that has some real issues at the heart of it. Just as LGBTQ activists/thinkers/allies felt they needed their own queer movement/studies outside of the feminist movement so as to get their issues heard, I believe the same is happening here. The outright hostility towards anyone who dare discuss men’s issues is only enabling the assholes and silencing the good.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Are you stupid? CAFE IS the “loathsome behaviour.” MRAs are NOT feminist allies. And I think you know that. We aren’t buying your fuckery here, k?

      • http://jeffblackman2001@gmail.com Jeff

        listen, I’ve only met one person from CAFE ever, and they do not seem like the folk you’re describing. I know groups like Men’s Rights Edmonton do & say awful things. This is CAFE’s FB page and I don’t see the loathsome behaviour there. (https://www.facebook.com/equalitycanada?fref=ts). Please, give me a link of CAFE committing / saying awful things. I’m trying to come at all this with an open-mind and there’s a lot of flame-war style conversation happening instead.

        • Meghan Murphy
          • http://jeffblackman2001@gmail.com Jeff

            btw I’m not trying to peddle any fuckery. I’m highly suspicious of MRA and men’s issues groups and have been trolling the heck out of their Facebook page. I think much of these issues that groups like CAFE are focussed on are largely covered, so to speak, by other movements like anti-war, labour, etc.

            However, I’m just trying find a bridge between two very disparate movements – the feminist and this new men’s issues thing. I think the feminist movement is big enough for most of them, because it seems most of these folk – excluding the crazies with AVFM & or surfing Reddit’s jailbait channel – just want to see an end to gender stereotypes. I’m not trying to deceive anyone, I’m not a misogynist sleeper agent, and I don’t appreciate being called stupid when I challenge someone who flippantly suggests a whole segment of the population is guilty of rape.

          • Meghan Murphy

            There is no bridge. The MRM is not a “movement” so much as it is a joke. It exists based on myths and ideas that are contradictory to feminism. MRAs don’t understand systems of oppression. Period.

            NO ONE has “flippantly suggest[ed] a whole segment of the population is guilty of rape” — statements like these are going to, I’m afraid, make people question your intentions and credibility.

          • http://jeffblackman2001@gmail.com Jeff

            Laur said on September 20th that, quote, “Indeed, the majority of men in their movement have been brought to court for battery and/or rape.” That is a flippant suggestion that a segment of the population is guilty.

            to suggest that each & every MRA is the same in belief & behaviour is to suggest that each & every feminist is the same when, from your very own blog posts I know there are feminists who think burlesque is great and feminists who think burlesque is evil, and a whole bunch of people in between. I believe that right now the extremists int the MRM are being enabled because moderates, who want to talk about things like violent depictions of men in media, or the underperformance of men in the education system, are being told that they are bigots.

            I want people to get along. I want a world with less violence and less judgement. Please consider I might be genuine in that belief.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well it sure does seem like many of them have — the leaders in particular. That isn’t the same as saying an entire segment of the population is guilty of rape ffs.

            MRAs are a bunch of angry, entitled men who don’t understand feminism and think that having to pay child support equals oppression.

          • http://jeffblackman2001.wordpress.com Jeff Blackman

            do you see a distinction between men’s rights activists (MRAs) and men’s issues groups? or perhaps, would a distinct movement that focuses on patriarchy’s toxic role on men, as something you’d be cool with?

          • Meghan Murphy

            A distinct movement that looks at patriarchy’s toxic impact on men would not be a “distinct” movement, but would rather be one based in feminism. There are many men doing this work (Jackson Katz is a good example) — but they would never align themselves with the MRM, nor, actually, do they take on the “feminist” label.

          • Me

            “I believe that right now the extremists int the MRM are being enabled because moderates, who want to talk about things like violent depictions of men in media, or the underperformance of men in the education system, are being told that they are bigots.”

            Well, the way the MRM works seems to be by keeping MRAs as angry as possible. If you take a look at what groups like AVFM do, that is what they do. I mean, if you really want everyone to get along and for males too to be freed from being socialized into unfeeling, angry and pent-up men etc., then isn’t it simply a real deep breath time for you to realize fronts like AVFM work by keeping men as angry as possible at women? Go all fuck, shit, facepalm, this is the core of their power and organizing, wtf am I going to do about it?

          • http://jeffblackman2001.wordpress.com Jeff Blackman

            I wholly agree that AVFM is an antagonist organization that isn’t making anyone’s life better. What I’m interested in learning is whether moderate groups like CAFE are any different.

            If anyone on this thread lives in Toronto, I would be very interested to hear reporting back on CAFE’s vent this week at U of T. If there is grounded belief that their speaker Miles Groth is going to speaking falsehoods, then I think it’s best for feminists to be in line for the Q&A afterwards instead of outside chanting and, heaven help us, pulling fire alarms. Dialogue can change minds, even of the angry folk you describe.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Your “moderate”/”extremist” labels are irrelevant because the MRM is irrelevant. Stop trying to force this conversation.

      • Laur

        Thank you, Meghan.

  • http://jeffblackman2001@gmail.com Jeff

    thank you for the link Meghan. I’ll give its links a look, and will be likely following up with the fellow I met from CAFE.

  • Merrick

    I really do not see the point of a men’s “RIGHTS” movement. Where do men specifically need more rights? Sure men face biases and stereotypes that men face, such as frequent violent depiction in the media (which continue to be propagated by most men). If there needs be a movement, it should be a movement about taking responsibility for our part in the problem.

    • Me

      “If there needs be a movement, it should be a movement about taking responsibility for our part in the problem.”

      Yes! Thank you.