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The Varsity

The University of Toronto's
Student Newspaper Since 1880

Men’s rights activists call for creation of “Men’s Centre”

Few protestors compared to large-scale confrontation last year

By Jerico Espinas
Published: 2:45 am, 30 September 2013
Vol CXXXIV, No. 05 under
Participants at the Rally for Men and Boys in Crisis. MICHAEL CHAHLEY/THE VARSITY

On September 27, the University of Toronto’s Men’s Issues Awareness Society (UTMIA) and the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) hosted an event called “Why We Need Campus Men’s Centres.” Dr. Miles Groth, who published a book called Engaging College Men: Discovering What Works, was the keynote speaker for the event.

Groth’s lecture focused on the difficulties facing young men in today’s universitys and professional programs, as well as his experience hosting a men’s centre at Wagner College. He believes that a men’s centre has become necessary for men to flourish in the “noxious sociocultural environment” that is present in today’s universities.

At the event, CAFE announced that they had reached $35,000 out of their $50,000 goal to establish a Canadian Centre for Men and Families in Toronto. The group hoped to see the arrival of not only men’s centres in universities, but also support centres for men in the general community. Several prominent members of the Men’s Rights Movement visited the lecture, including Paul Elam from A Voice for Men (AVfM) and Karen Straughan from A Girl Writes What. Nick Reading from Men’s Rights Edmonton was also at the event. They came to give CAFE their support and to promote a follow-up rally the next day.

Attendees wait to enter the lecture hall for Dr. Miles Groth's talk. CAROLYN LEVETT/THE VARSITY

Attendees wait to enter the lecture hall for Dr. Miles Groth’s talk. CAROLYN LEVETT/THE VARSITY

A lecture on campus by Dr. Warren Farrell last November was met with almost 100 protesters, some of whom barricaded doors and shouted at attendees. The incident prompted a highly publicized debate between the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and senior administrators over the acceptable limits of free speech on campus.

In the hour prior to the event, there was a sense of unease. “I expected protesters to be here like last year,” said Ethan Hu, a second-year student.  “I was a bit nervous that I’d be yelled at.” After the event, Hu said that he was “pleasantly surprised” that the event was held without difficulties. No protesters were ultimately present.

U of T administration charged UTMIA a mandatory fee of $964 to cover the security costs in the event of another large-scale protest. Almost a half-dozen police officers were stationed at the entrance of the lecture hall. Organizers managed to pay the fee using donations from CAFE supporters, but sources say AVfM is considering legal action to get the fee refunded.

“I can’t believe [CAFE] had to be charged,” said Jonathan Turner, a “curious” observer who wanted to know more about men’s issues. “It should be the protesters who get stuck with the bill.” He was not aware that this was a large, contentious issue in the past because of the lecture hall’s “peaceful and open” atmosphere.

Members of Bash Back, a radical anarchist queer organization, assembled to counter the Rally for Men and Boys in Crisis. MICHAEL CHAHLEY/THE VARSITY

Members of Bash Back, a radical anarchist queer organization, assembled to counter the Rally for Men and Boys in Crisis. MICHAEL CHAHLEY/THE VARSITY

A follow-up event called A Rally for Men and Boys in Crisis occurred the next day at Queen’s Park. Hosted by AVfM and other partners concerned with men’s rights, the event was an opportunity for supporters to share their stories. Many of the guests from Groth’s lecture returned for the rally and were also given a chance to speak. Half an hour into the rally, a group of around 20 protesters from Bash Back!, a radical anarchist queer organization, arrived in front of Queen’s Park. The group was not affiliated with the university. The protesters attempted to march up to the rally attendees, but were quickly stopped by three police officers. A clear boundary was created between Bash Back! and the activists.

The group proceeded to make a non-violent protest against the rally. They chanted that the supporters were sexist and homophobic, and waved signs that read “Listen to Women” and “Sexism is not a Right.” In the middle of their protest, a few members of the group climbed the Ontario Veterans Memorial and shouted slogans such as “MRA, go away!” They were eventually convinced by police to step down and return to their previous location.

Members of Bash Back! declined to comment.

“It’s so critical that we don’t shut up,” said Paul Elam, using the microphone to address the protesters. “If I shut up, I’m going to contribute to the suicide of men and boys. If I don’t want to talk about these problems, who’s going to?” Other speakers talked over the chants to give their personal stories about the injustices that men still face today.

A few students were more open about the presence of the demonstrators. “They are not so bad,” said Dennis Najm, a student from York University. “They are a bit rude, but at least they are obeying the cops. At least they are not doing anything illegal.” Najm admitted that he was curious to hear from different sides of the issue, but was disappointed that only a “fringe radical group” came to protest.

“I’m glad to see that these groups are still around,” said John MacTaggart, a Life Sciences student at U of T. He was afraid that students had “scared these groups off campus” after last year’s events. “What sort of university are we if we can’t handle a bit of noisy discourse?”

  • Anonymous

    Re: “U of T administration charged UTMIA a mandatory fee of $964 to cover the security costs”

    What if, back in the 1960s, the U of T admin had charged peacefully marching blacks a fee to cover the security costs in the event of a large-scale protest?

    The fee is the U of T’s own personal, cowardly statement against the freedom of speech of men who don’t go along with the university’s virtually mandated feminist ideology.

    In case you don’t think men have gender issues worthy of debate, I offer:

    “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality”
    http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/the-doctrinaire-institute-for-womens-policy-research/

    Ideological feminists should be sitting down when they read it.

    • LOL

      I’m actually laughing out loud at your insinuation that a few lonely guys making rape jokes at women and literally shouting about how “awesome” being racist and sexist is, is somehow equivalent to the Civil Rights Movement. Angry men’s struggles = black rights to citizenship.

      • Bahram Farzady

        Why does that matter? The freedom blacks had to advocate for a good cause is the same freedom this retard should have to advocate for his.

        If there were a litmus test, both would not pass (that is, the black thing back in the day, of course, it would pass today).

        • Nham Thien Duong

          You’re the retard for claiming that men have no issues.

      • Nham Thien Duong

        ¿What? ¿do you even know what M.R.A.’s stand for? Father’s rights, the right for neo-nate boys to have intact penus (yes, that’s the plural of penis) and the right to have an open discussion about gender issues that also affect men & boys. ¿how does this endorse rape? if you think, less boys committing suicide equate to raping? ¿how does asking false rape accusers to actually be punished for misusing the law encourage more men to rape as we’re still against rapists? ¿how is defending the right of all MEN disadvantage homosexual MEN? Seriously, most of those boys committing suicide are driven to that by homophobes, and they can’t get out, giving them a place where they can freely talk without getting judged makes them better.

        If you think that only flamboyant homosexuals have the right to be gay, and non-noticable gay men should die, then you’re the Homophobe, if you want to let false rape accusers walk free, which encourages more women who have really been raped to be afraid that their cased won’t be taken serious, then you are the one who’s pro-rape, not the M.R.A.’s, you clearly have absolutely no idea what the M.R.M. is.

    • Emilie

      I can read things while standing up. It’s a pretty cool skill. Chairs are nice too, though. People use them a lot.

  • Brad Evoy

    It’s about time the MRAs were charged fees for their events. I mean, its only fair — heck, UTGSU almost had to pay more than they did for their Orientation (averted only due to the fact Campus Police didn’t stick around).

    That’s a pretty standard fee under the current policy regime, that’s just fact of life for everybody hosting known campus events.

    • Bahram Farzady

      It’s ridiculous in both cases. Unless you ask for extra security (which UofT has no monopoly on–you can hire security guards at a much cheaper rate I imagine), there should be no pre-emptive security and they certainly shouldn’t charge the people hosting the event with the fee.

      We pay for security and police for exactly these instances (although in this case they were not needed, so… what exactly did they pay for?). I’m fine with paying for them in these cases if they will work for free the 99% of their job they just sit/stand/walk/drive and do nothing.

      To answer MaleMatters down there, they aren’t being bias here. They’re equal opportunity money-gougers.

  • Baby Boomer

    Back in my day, do you know what we called the Men’s Centre? The bar. For some of us, it was the strip joint. During the summer, it was the Skydome to catch some of America’s pastime and sip a couple brews. Maybe smoke indoors. These millenial boys are just that – BOYS! This is the product of too many little Tommies and Johnnies being told they’re worth something. The self-esteem generation is full of hot air and I’m about to burst their bubble. Don’t believe me, just watch.

    • Bahram Farzady

      You called the bar, the strip joint and the Skydome ‘the Men’s Centre’? That seems pretty confusing.

      Isn’t the Men’s Centre already a gay bar?

      • Nham Thien Duong

        ¿Why aren’t the homosexuals supporting the M.R.M.? if anyone is discriminated most by positive discrimination policies, it’ll be them (a household of 2 men has twice the chance of getting rejected).

    • Nham Thien Duong

      Hmmm, so if a man gets abused by his wife and he has no place to go, he should just go to a bar and drink all of his problems away, yes, let’s do that [sarcastically].