The Men’s Rights Movement, CAFE & the University of Toronto

This article was originally published at and was reposted with permission from the author.

The Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) and one of its spawns in the campus based Men’s Issues Awareness Group movement have arrived at the University of Toronto with  a bang; and a seeming campaign of overt intimidation against those who oppose them.

CAFE, as I have previously written about at some length, is the front group that presents the public and ostensibly less extreme face of the Men’s Rights Movement (also known as the Men’s Rights Advocacy or MRA) in Canada. As I noted in the article they have made on-campus recruitment a major thrust of their overall strategy.

In furtherance of this aim, they have set up a number of campus clubs including one at the University of Toronto. The Men’s Issues Awareness group held a public event on campus that featured Warren Farrell on November 16, 2012.

Farell is a men’s rights apologist who touts his former “feminist” credentials to act as the intellectual spokesperson of the MRA. He is the point person they trot out to to make Charles Murray, Bell Curve style arguments that obviously distort and misuse statistics, anecdotal evidence  and historical record in defense of what are transparently specious and ahistorical notions that patriarchy is a myth not only now, but even in the past.

This event was protested by a group of University of Toronto activists and feminists who objected to Farrell’s and the MRA’s presence on campus. This resulted in the campus police and the Toronto police ultimately breaking up the protest, as protesters attempted to block access to the event. This protest, which has not lead to any actual charges, has lead to accusations of police brutality. It has also led, in part,  to a statement by the Provost of U of T stating, rather disingenuously, that “the disruption of this event by protesters was a threat to free speech”. While obviously, one might note, disrupting events and civil disobedience are also a fundamental part of free speech and of the historic fight against injustice, a fact the administrations of universities seem to regularly disregard, it should additionally be noted that this is a statement issued by a university administration whose alleged devotion to “free speech” was so great that, during the G20 protests they hired a private investigator whose reports of “people outside of the GSU building wearing “Black Bloc attire”” led to what is now known to be one of the worst unlawful episodes of mass false arrest and detention during the entire G20 weekend.

After this action by U of T students, a number of activists within the U of T community have described to me another incident on December 6th, as students gathered on campus to honour the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and Children; a date chosen as it is the anniversary of Canada’s most notorious case of misogynist and anti-feminist hate violence, the Montreal Massacre. As this remembrance event drew to a close an MRA member aggressively demanded to be allowed to make a statement, while another was seen photographing participants.

In the days since this, matters have gotten significantly worse, in a way that deserves notice and that exposes the fraudulent claims by CAFE, and their on campus offspring,  that they are only interested in discussing “gender issues” and “fairness” and that they are not an anti-feminist or misogynist group.

An American based website, A Voice for Men, notorious for its vitriolic attacks on feminists and its extreme language and rhetoric, has begun to target individual women and activists in the U of T community with appalling and aggressive web posts singling them out for “discipline”.

These posts now have broadened to include at least four students and can all be found on their main page. They include derogatory personal comments, photographs of the women in question, and threatening language. They seem to be adding female U of T activists to this front page almost daily.

In addition they have added some of the activist’s names to the reprehensibly misogynist website,  This is a website supposedly devoted to “exposing” alleged female rapists and women who have allegedly  laid charges of rape which turned out to be false. The minuscule number of alleged women offenders actually listed on the site simply reconfirms that neither of these notions are a significant social issue. In fact, 97% of sex offenders are male, and a similar site devoted to listing the names of North American men who had either committed rape or had falsely stated that a woman was lying about rape would include millions of names and be inconceivably larger in scope. That the website is now primarily a vehicle for heaping scorn and humiliation on its female opponents shows just how specious the website’s claims are and what its real purpose is.

CAFE, in a ridiculously self-contradictory and disingenuous article has attempted to both distance itself from the A Voice for Men website and state that its critics are “quote mining”. This is almost a humorous accusation given that the article itself links to the A Voice for Men website, and clearly, thereby, brings these posts naming and attacking specific activists to the attention of CAFE members and followers.

Given that the A Voice for Men website is in the United States, and given the details that they know about and prominence that they are giving to the U of T feminist activists, it seems rather difficult to believe that they are not being, at the very least, fed information by U of T’s men’s rights activists. In addition, one of the posts is co-written by “Agent Mauve” and Paul Elam. Paul Elam is a well established leader within the far right American Men’s Rights extremist and hate wing. As he lives in Houston, Texas, however, it is clear that “Agent Mauve” is likely the real author. One can only point out the irony that someone so dedicated to “exposing” individuals is too much of a coward to say who they really are, as obviously they wish to avoid any legal or personal ramifications in Canada.

CAFE has good reason to worry about “quote mining”. Even a cursory examination of MRA websites, their rhetoric and their statements, rapidly exposes outright misogyny.

A Voice for Men has very recently published articles like “Marc Lepine is a feminist hero”, “Manufacturing female victims, marginalizing vulnerable men”, “Child abuse in the name of feminism” , and many, many more. You need not even get to the comments or discussion boards, or “mine” their archives, to find countless and clear examples of how misogynist this website is. When you do get to them the vitriol and violent hate speech are only amplified.

Once one delves into the discussion boards of various Men’s Rights groups, forums that they likely think are out-of-sight, the “front” comes down”, an issue that I will return to in a later article.

Anyone can look through the A Voice for Men discussion boards to see palpable anger and hatred towards women and feminists.

As just one other example, one need only see this forum regarding my article in October, on the website  Men’s Rights Online, to get an immediate idea of what the MRA is about when it thinks no one is looking (and a warning, the imagery and content of this page is extremely offensive). The irony is, they are far more abusive than this when discussing their female opponents. This is not, by any stretch, the worst of their comment boards.

As CAFE not only does not disavow these sites, but links to A Voice for Men, among others, they cannot honestly claim not to endorse them.

The U of T Provost states “We will continue to monitor and review this situation.  It is important that all members of our community can express their views in a civil and respectful manner, without fear, regardless of which position they take on this or other divides.” But this is a wrongheaded response.

As with so many liberal, seemingly “free speech” oriented statements, it gives equivalency to both sides as if this were a “debate”. By doing so, the statement, in fact, legitimizes the Men’s Rights Movement, in the same way that the American media legitimizes creationists by giving them air time.

The Men’s Rights Movement is an organized, dedicated and growing hate movement that constitutes an explicit and violently oriented backlash against women and feminism. It is not akin, in anyway to the feminist movement and is not, somehow, a legitimate counterpoint to it in an academic environment. Faculty, administrators and staff had best wake up to this reality before it is too late.

Update 12/14/12: In the hours since this article was first posted, one of the articles linked to above, has been altered by A Voice for Men and they have deleted Paul Elam as the co-author with “Agent Mauve”. A screenshot verifying that this article was originally stated as having been co-authored can be found here.

Update 12/26/12: In the days since this article was first published, Men’s Rights Online in an obvious attempt to cover up its own language and imagery, has locked out the forum I linked to above in the article. To get a small taste of the ugliness that was in this forum, and again I caution that the imagery and content is very offensive, screenshots can be found here.

Michael Laxer lives in Toronto where he runs a bookstore with his partner Natalie. Michael has a Degree in History from Glendon College of York University. He is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the newly formed Socialist Party of Ontario.
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