The mission to end violence against women received another boost last week with the news that White Ribbon Canada is to receive $300,000 in funding from the Canadian government. The money, donated by the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, Dr. Kellie Leitch, is to be used to fund the development of an “online toolkit” that will help men end violence against women. Todd Minerson of White Ribbon Canada and Minister Leitch made the announcement in front of assembled press in Ottawa.
The news comes as something of a fillip for the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) amid increased scrutiny regarding its financial affairs, the accuracy of its claims surrounding domestic violence and rape, and the methods used to draw attention to its mission. Both White Ribbon Australia and White Ribbon Canada have recently had their financial records investigated, with the findings showing that the overwhelming majority of the WRC’s funding goes directly to staff salaries. In the case of White Ribbon Canada, this amounts to $528,101 from a total of $1,108,850, paid out to just 11 staff.
The next-largest tranche of funding is used for further fund-raising efforts, the net effect of which is that most of the money that the WRC makes goes into staffers’ pockets and most of what is left over is used to make sure that it keeps going there. Neither set of records shows how, or where, funding is spent on serious anti-violence efforts. For now, the WRC has two main campaigns—the most visible being “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” the purpose of which is to raise awareness through symbolic gestures of solidarity for women who suffer domestic violence. Yet, despite significant fund-raising, White Ribbon does not operate or offer any counseling services, helplines, or legal advice to those who are victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. According to White Ribbon organizers, their job is simply one of “awareness raising,” but if recent efforts in the Republic of Ireland are anything to go by, they’re failing.
White Ribbon Ireland is also taking fire for making grossly exaggerated claims on the prevalence of rape in Irish society. The Irish arm of the advocacy group has apologized for a recent “error” that inflated the Irish government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) rate of 451 reported instances of rape in 2013 to a massive 3,500. White Ribbon Ireland made the claim in a press release prior to its official launch, stating that “[a]ccording to CSO statistics, there were 3,500 reported rapes in Ireland in 2013.” It is difficult to see how such an “error” could take place within a group whose expertise is supposed to be on these very issues. White Ribbon has not as yet fully explained how the number found its way into print or what it’s doing to ensure that such obvious falsehoods aren’t repeated—a worrying sign indeed. If White Ribbon’s mission is truly to raise awareness on issues such as rape and domestic violence, then it behooves them to ensure that data is accurate. Exaggerating data on crimes such as rape will only have one result—spreading fear.
But perhaps worst of all is White Ribbon’s insistence that domestic violence is an issue that only affects women. It is a well-established fact that men are just as likely to be victims of domestic violence. However, White Ribbon’s framing of the issue is one that ignores the male reality of suffering. This is completely unacceptable, especially so in an environment where the overwhelming majority of men do not feel able to speak out regarding their abuse. Police authorities are not trained to deal with male victims of abuse, and there are practically zero resources from which men can seek help. Tonight across Canada, and Australia, and Ireland, men will suffer their abuse alone, behind closed doors.
If White Ribbon is serious about its mission, then it’s time to acknowledge ALL victims of abuse.
It’s time to put all money into the direct provision of services. It’s time to stop manipulating figures. It’s time for honesty and transparency.
Unfortunately, Minister Leitch’s announcement may not prove to be as helpful as we’d hope, despite all of the fanfare. As long as Canadian taxpayer money goes to groups like White Ribbon, we will never be free of domestic violence and we will never, ever have a fair and equitable approach to these issues. The men, women, and children in our lives deserve so much better.
IT IS UNDENIABLE that the MHRM has gained traction in the past few years. Men’s advocacy websites and interest groups have seen massive upsurges in membership and participation. Real world activism is taking discernible shape. Men’s rights, often seen as a fringe, obscure movement is now shifting towards the centre of public consciousness with distinct groups now clearly apparent. Some (albeit tiny minorities) are characterized by their strongly political viewpoints – while others are apolitical. Some, such as the Japanese grass eating men and the North American MGTOWs eschew societal rules, inparticular – romantic or committed involvement with the opposite sex; others welcome involvement with women and see male-female cooperation as vital to the success of the MHRM.
Some label themselves as Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs,) others Men’s Human Rights Activists (MHRAs) and some, while advocating for men and families only recognize the existence of humanrights as a whole, rather than the existence of rights specific, or more applicable to men, than to women. Put bluntly, it’s a global, complex movement that for the most part operates with a surprising degree of mutual respect and harmony.
The mainstream media, hitherto oblivious to the growth of the MHRM is taking notice. Major news outlets are asking questions about what the MHRM is, who’s involved, and what the issues are. While the media is yet to undertake a substantial survey of the myriad groups, divisions, politics, and realities of the wider MHRM, they are learning – albeit slowly. Results so far have been mixed. Balanced stories and accurate depictions of the MHRM are so far the exception. Reporting is too often misleading, misinformed, and relies far too heavily on the input of those diametrically opposed to the MHRM.
And sometimes, the results are just downright disastrous.
Earlier this year ABC’s investigative documentary program 20/20 was forced to pull a piece purporting to profile the rise of the MHRM and the online ‘Manosphere.’ Prior to air, 20/20 ran a teaser trailer, with snippets from an interview with A Voice For Men’s founder Paul Elam, and an accompanying article featuring Anita Sarkeesian – a woman universally despised within not only the MHRM but also the gaming community.
Sarkeesian’s shady and questionable past as well as her opportunistic foray into gender-based criticism of the video game industry infuriated gamers and MHRAs alike (indeed both communities have a substantial demographical overlap.)
Sarkeesian’s inclusion in the documentary was sufficient by itself to enrage the MHRM but there was more. It was evident from the trailer and the look of barely disguised contempt on the face of veteran journalist Elizabeth Vargas that the fix was in – and that objectivity was not high on either 20/20’s, or Vargas’ agenda.
Paul Elam, himself an unwilling ‘veteran’ of the media hit piece, saw the signs early. While happy of the coverage, Elam understood ABC’s intentions and immediately made his feelings public. The wider MHRM, already skeptical of the mainstream media’s agenda and poor track record, unleashed a maelstrom of ridicule and criticism at 20/20 and its producers – deconstructing their agenda in ABC’s comment sections, social media sites , and creating online petitions to demand higher standards of journalistic integrity. So taken aback were ABC at the weight of public opinion against them, they pulled the piece, a move that only served to further anger many MHRAs.
As the ABC debacle demonstrated – the MHRM is not without power. Its burgeoning membership, predominantly young, educated, and diverse (not only in terms of gender but also sexual orientation and race) – is laying claim to new territory, in a way not considered possible before.
Feminism – traditionally perceived as the outsider, as the plucky underdog with a score to settle, is now widely acknowledged as the establishment – an establishment from which its traditional core support – young, impressionable female undergrads, is turning away from in droves. The propagandizing, the belabouring of tired clichés such as the myth of involuntary female domestic servitude or the gender pay gap has had its day. The old idée fixes, are just that – old.
Third wave feminism has only recently recognized that there is a massive conundrum at the centre of its existence – that of its increasing irrelevance. As the MHRM grew in popularity the feminist modus operandi wasn’t to reach out to those involved or to seek acquiescence on issues affecting men and boys. Instead, feminists went on the offensive, hurling insult, lies, and cast the MHRM as well as individual MHRAs as misogynists, racists, homophobes – bigots of every imaginable variety. It was a strategy concocted by and for those with a lot to lose – highly paid university professors whose jobs, research grants, and tenure depended on the continued promulgation of feminist mythology, and low-level politicians, eager to further their careers by appealing to the ideological status quo.
It was a strategy implemented for the most part by naïve, acned undergrads, barely able to tie their own shoelaces, let alone disentangle complex ideology and propaganda from truth. This strategy did achieve a measure of success. The unwillingness on the part of some MHRAs to convene in public due to shaming, intimidation, and doxxing tactics from feminists proved effective.
However, in November 2012, those same tactics backfired in spectacular fashion at what was becoming the epicentre of feminist antagonism towards the MHRM, the University of Toronto.
‘Protestors’ some openly admitting that they were sent to the event by their gender studies professors, harried and physically intimidated attendees, pulled fire alarms, blocked entrances to the venue, were assaultive to police (called in because of violent behavior from feminists) and verbally abused those present. The video of the event, shot by Canadian filmmaker Steve Brulé, went viral. The violence and bullying tactics of feminist agitators were seen around the world.
It was a watershed moment.
The public were aghast and the media, playing catch-up with a movement comprised of mysterious MGTOWs and hermitic herbivores latched onto the story. It was an event that showed the public the true face of feminism, ugly, vicious – feral and it was an event that gave feminists serious pause for thought. The old ways of intimidation, verbal abuse, shaming, violence – would no longer work. That night steeled many within the MHRM who returned to Toronto in September 2013 and faced down the defunct gay activist group ‘Bashback.’ Bashback, reduced to a ragtag bunch of professional protestors tried and failed to shame MHRAs convened at Queen’s Park in Toronto – there to acknowledge the crisis facing men and boys in society. Activists representing A Voice For Men, CAFE, the National Coalition For Men, Men’s Rights Edmonton, Men’s Human Rights Ontario, among others were present and shouted back against the shaming tactics – their voice was clear – ‘we will not be shamed anymore.’
This too, was another watershed.
The increasing awareness of feminism as a special interests group, dedicated to enhancing the circumstances of already over-privileged women at cost to society generally is reaching a critical mass. Attendant to this is the growing recognition of the legitimacy of men’s human rights. Feminists, now aware of their impending extinction and the intensifying acceptance of the MHRM have begun in recent months to change the record, or at least, to attempt to place it in a shinier sleeve.
In a bid to stop the bleeding, feminists have sparked a debate about rebranding. Led by Elle magazine, the campaign has sought to undo the negative connotations around feminism. From Elle journalist, Hannah Swerling: ‘The conversation about feminism, what it means and more importantly, what it means to you, is one that runs continually at ELLE HQ. That’s why in the November issue, we invited three feminist groups to work with three award-winning advertising agencies to re-brand a term that many feel has become burdened with complications and negativity.’
Of course – it is magnificently ironic that a glossy women’s magazine, heavy on aspirational consumerism, should take such a leading role in modern feminism. It speaks volumes as to just how out of touch with reality feminism has become.
Yet this rebranding is not the only change taking place.
Feminists are beginning to begrudgingly accept the existence of men’s issues. Refusing to fully relinquish their victim narrative, however, feminists have attached the caveat that MHRAs should not blame feminism for the existence of issues that affect men and boys. November 19th saw the celebration of International Men’s Day – an event that in previous years was mostly ignored by everybody outside of the MHRM. This year, though, was different. The celebration was covered by the mainstream media – with numerous feminist writers acknowledging the event, but also using the opportunity to issue edicts on discussion related to the role of feminism. They were not to be blamed – for anything. While a lot of the coverage was plainly bigoted and demeaning, some was more even-handed – and some was actually positive.
Feminism is changing. For the most part, those changes are cosmetic but feminism has a long history of coopting popular causes, and this is something that the MHRM needs to protect against. The softening of rhetoric from feminists may indicate a future attempt to appropriate the issues of the MHRM. Feminists have tried, and failed to convince not only the MHRM but the general public that they were addressing issues important to men and boys. Of course, this was a massive lie, predicated on the idea that smashing the ludicrously imagined patriarchy would fix everything. It is likely, that in yet another act of window dressing akin to the Elle rebranding, and previous coopting, that feminism will try to appropriate men’s human rights issues in a bid to obviate the necessity for an MHRM independent of feminism.
It won’t succeed.
Feminism has been exposed and no amount of rebranding, rewording, or special pleading will cover over the truth.
IT’S THE NEW personal security accessory that’s left many commentators scratching their heads – and others – foaming at the mouth. New York-based startup AR wear have a created a line of ‘anti-rape’ apparel. The clothing, which features underwear, shorts, and track pants, is specifically designed to scupper rape attacks.
The clothes are made from a hi-tech material that cannot be cut or ripped and are ‘locked’ in place by the wearer. Once the wearer has secured the garment, it is only released by using a combination latch. It is, in essence, a modern-day chastity belt but allows the wearer complete freedom of movement and has the appearance of regular clothing.
AR Wear is seeking $50,000, using the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to get the products on the shelves and according to the company, is already half-way to achieving that goal.
Their campaign, however, is not without controversy. Feminists have decried the product as a form of rape apology – and have responded with the by-now tired, contemptible line, ‘teach men not to rape.’ Others argue that the product is an endorsement of the view that we live in a rape culture – and that all men are potential rapists – while others see it as a cynical exploitation of women’s fears, whether real, or imagined.
What all of these criticisms have in common, though, is that they all stem from the same source – rape hysteria as perpetuated by the feminist theory of rape culture.
Rape culture, as an idea, came to prominence during the second wave of feminism, at some point in the 1970s. The term’s exact origin is disputed by feminists but was almost universally used to describe then contemporary American society. The idea directly connects sexual assault, rape, and sexual violence to the actual culture of any given society that displays common attitudes that excuses, tolerates, ignores, normalizes or condones rape. Sexual objectification, trivialization of rape, victim blaming, and in recent years ‘slut shaming’ are all examples of behaviours that are indicative of an overarching rape culture.
Countless studies by feminists have presented evidence either directly or indirectly supporting this theory. Notable feminists such as Mary P. Koss have produced studies and reports that describe a horrific picture of widespread sexual assault. The problem with this picture, however, is that the numbers just don’t add up – a fact that Koss herself sheepishly acknowledged when confronted with her at best questionable methodologies by reporters for Toledo Ohio’s Blade newspaper, in 1992.
Yet, for the most part, feminists have gone unchallenged for decades in their increasingly aggressive rape narrative with some groups going as far as to claim that one-in-two women will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Yes – you read that correctly – one-in-two.
Indeed, the Kawartha sexual assault centre makes the bizarre claim that ‘Conservative statistics document that 1 in 2 girls will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives.’ That, to them, is conservative.
The exaggeration of rape ‘statistics’; the unethical methodologies; the rigged questionnaires and surveys; the half-truths; the mendacity – all of the underhand, deceptive behaviour by feminists in relation to rape and sexual assault is the reason why AR Wear exist today.
If these statistics were true, if rape culture was real – then it makes sense that women would want to wear these garments; indeed, if these statistics were even remotely likely to be true – I wouldn’t allow my daughter to leave the house unless she wore AR Wear and carried an AK-47.
But the fact of the matter is that they’re not true. They never were true and never will be true. Feminists, in pushing their narrative of rape culture, in describing a landscape akin to what one would expect to find in some end of days dystopia more resembling a Mad Max movie, are directly responsible for the existence of AR Wear. They are guilty of creating a climate in which charlatans can produce garments such as these under the false guise of helping people.
And let’s be clear be about this – AR Wear are out to make a buck – nothing more. They’re using the artificially generated fears of unknowing women to capitalize.
If feminists are truly outraged by this development they can make a positive contribution by putting an end to their lies. They can stop inflating statistics, stop painting half of the species as rapists, and renounce their hateful theory of ‘rape culture.’ If they don’t we can expect to see more of this in future.