AS REGULAR readers of AVfM are no doubt aware, the “Don’t be that Guy” poster campaign has once again raised its bigoted head. This time the campaign has made an appearance in Canada’s capital – Ottawa. However, while the posters did attract some media attention, it wasn’t nearly as much as previous occasions. What’s also of note is that for the first time the posters were torn down. It seems that someone at the University of Ottawa had had enough. While AVfM does not condone censorship, we certainly do understand the anger that motivates such action. Labeling an entire gender as potential rapists while simultaneously ignoring the realities of sexual assault and rape is clearly morally bankrupt. That is why we sent our tireless Director of Activism Attila Vinczer to Ottawa armed with glue, some “Don’t be that Girl” posters, and a gutful of FTSU attitude. AVfM spoke with Vinczer upon his return from Ottawa. Below are some excerpts from the conversation:
Hi Attila – so first off – how did you get to Ottawa?
Well, I drove to Ottawa. It took about four-and-half hours – got a nice present from the OPP on the way – a speeding ticket. I told the officer that I couldn’t accept his kind gift but, you know, he insisted.
What’s your take on the Don’t be that Guy campaign?
The Don’t be That Guy campaign is absolutely ridiculous. The message of that poster, of that campaign, is completely wrong. It paints guys in a way that men are like that – and they’re not. It goes hand-in-hand with the one-in-four nonsense. It’s a misleading campaign and stigmatizes men.
What happened when you got to Ottawa?
I met with William Mullins-Johnson, Janice Fiamengo, and Stephen Bindman. I have worked with Bill for years, who talks about wrongful conviction stuff – Stephen teaches a class to law students about wrongful convictions. We had lunch and talked about Elizabeth Sheehy and agreed that her proposals are just ludicrous. Bill helped me poster – we put out fifty Don’t Be That Girl posters – one of them was the one about the woman hitting her child and the glass ceiling poster. We walked about for about an hour-and-a-half – and went into the faculty of law where we put up about five or six posters.
Was there any reaction?
The posters instantly drew attention. We got a few snarky looks from students – particularly women – but it was pretty peaceful. We got a few, what I’d call condescending stares. There was a sense of passive hostility although nobody bugged us or bothered us – even inside the university. That was probably because Bill is a huge guy – he’s 6’6, 200lbs. We got a lot of posters up really high thanks to him. But what we noticed is that people actually stopped and read the posters – the creators (Men’s Rights Edmonton) did a good job in that regard.
Did you see any Don’t be that Guy posters?
We didn’t see any – I heard that they were being torn down, so they were long gone by the time we got there.
How did it feel to put up the Don’t be that Girl posters?
It felt very good to put up those posters – I felt we were balancing it out so that people were seeing both ends of the spectrum and we need to be persistent – someone needs to put these posters up consistently. Every time I go to Ottawa from now on I am going to put posters up. Although I’m going to use rubber gloves – the glue is very sticky. The guys from Men’s Rights Edmonton gave me advice on that one – they’re professionals.
IT WOULD be funny if it wasn’t true. It would be funny if so much wasn’t at stake. It would be funny if the Canadian justice system wasn’t mollycoddling and indulging the childish, whiny, bullying behaviour of feminists. However, unfortunately, it is true – the trial of Toronto artist and father-of-four Gregory Alan Elliott really is happening.
And it is a disgrace.
If you’re a Torontonian, it’s likely you’ve come across Gregory Alan Elliott’s work at some point. Elliot’s art is featured all over the city – from Kensington market to Bloor and Landsdowne. It’s also just as likely that you don’t know who the guy is – but he’s a prolific and talented street artist with a clear artistic philosophy of self-individuation, truth, and love. But what really sets Elliott apart is that unlike other graffiti artists – he actually signs his work – with his real name. ‘I wanted to challenge graffiti artists around the world; the concept was to tell them and challenge them by signing my full legal name all in caps. If you sign it you take responsibility for it.’
Taking responsibility is a concept that means a lot to the father-of-four.
Elliott is facing charges of criminal harassment for the supposed ‘crime’ of sending some tweets to Toronto feminists Stephanie Guthrie, Paisley Rae, and Heather Reilly. If found guilty, Elliott faces up to six months in prison – with the verdict having far-reaching implications for freedom of speech in Canada. This is the first trial of its kind in Canada and is a test case for setting precedent in this area. If Guthrie et al are successful then the interpretation of the criminal code is expanded to include online activity. This in-itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If people receive legitimate threats, and feel threatened as a result – it is a criminal act, regardless of the medium. The problem arises however, when one examines the facts of this case and the specific criminal code in question.
Canadian criminal code 264 defines criminal harassment. Its definition describes a number of potentially criminal behaviours, such as stalking, repeated communication, and threatening behaviour. In order for these behaviours to be considered criminal – they must cause the complainant to ‘reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.’ In this particular case then, the prosecution faces two burdens of proof – the first that there was a form of behaviour that matches any one of the criteria laid out in the code, and that that behaviour was sufficient to cause the complainant to reasonably fear for their safety.
The Crown’s case, in both instances, is thinner than paper thin; indeed it is barely a wisp – and this is the reason why this case is so dangerous.
Should the Crown succeed in this reckless prosecution then not only is the interpretation of the criminal code expanded to include online harassment, but it is also expanded in terms of how personal safety is understood. It is important to note that not one of Elliott’s tweets or virtual communications is threatening – even by the most liberal interpretation of the word. Indeed, so unthreatening is Elliott that the officer in charge of the case, Toronto Police Detective Jeff Bangild, said in testimony last week that he found no tweets from Elliott that were threatening – none – among thousands. Just to be clear – this is from the officer in charge of the case.
If Banglid’s interpretation of the evidence is accurate then the prosecution’s case rests on selling the idea that this repeated communication, by itself, caused fear. This is almost impossible because the internet does not operate according to the rules of more traditional communication. It is extremely easy to block, or ignore people online. It is not like receiving multiple letters through the post or constant phone calls at three in the morning. It’s nothing like that. Consequently, the prosecution will have to demonstrate that Guthrie and her pals were genuinely frightened despite the fact that nothing Elliott did was actually threatening and that they could easily block him and ignore his tweets. They’re going to have a particularly difficult time with Guthrie given her constant boasting of having a folder on her computer full of death threats. Guthrie has made this claim on a number of occasions – one such occasion being the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) meeting held at the Onatrio Institute for Secondary Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto last year. Guthrie made the claim to a room full of freshman and feminist activists at a meeting whose purpose was to spread lies about the MHRM and to call for militant action against those that support men’s human rights. One has to wonder if death threats don’t frighten her – then why would the non-threatening, repeated communication from a man she dismisses as a ‘troll?’
It may surprise some to learn that Elliott and Guthrie were at one time friendly. Elliott was sympathetic to some of Guthrie’s causes and at one point offered his considerable talents as a graphic artist to help with one of her campaigns. Things changed though, when con artist Anita Sarkeesian was the target of an online game that encouraged players to virtually beat the crap out of her. Guthrie and her pals, unfazed by Sarkeesian’s shady past (and the anger within the gaming community at her questionable exploits,) doxxed the game’s developer Bendilin Spurr, and openly attempted to destroy his reputation, employment prospects, and even his romantic life in his hometown in Ontario. Elliott spoke out against Guthrie – labelling her behaviour as bullying and dangerous. What followed was a barrage of abuse between Guthrie, her feminist cohorts, and Elliott.
There was abuse on both sides but as the tweets make clear – Elliott was the victim of a concerted effort by Guthrie and her friends to bully the artist. Indeed, when one looks closely at the date stamps on the tweets – one can clearly see that Guthrie, Rae, and Reilly appear to adapt the same ‘communication strategy’ with Elliott on certain dates. For example, on September 9 2012, all three switch their message from open communication to attempting to create the appearance of actively ignoring Elliott. It is, however, extremely transparent from the tweets that this is a deliberate strategy – likely in anticipation of an action on their behalf (Elliott was arrested just two months later.) It is a pattern that marries well with defence attorney Chris Murphy’s assertion this week in court that Guthrie and her feminist stooges are guilty of deliberately manufacturing the entire debacle in an attempt to harass and discredit Elliott. Murphy alleged that in a meeting in Summer 2012 a group of feminists, including the three complainants got together to hatch a plan in which they would target Elliott’s followers and set up a parody account – both of which they did. (They created the parody twitter hashtag #GAEhole to refer to Elliot and openly called for people to shun him online.)
The internet has become an ideological battleground with feminists imposing their agenda on the unwilling and censoring dissent wherever it arises. Feminists, with Rebecca Watson as the figurehead, have ruined the atheist community. Feminists, with Anita Sarkeesian as the figurehead, have ruined the gaming community. Feminists, with Adria Richards as the figurehead, have ruined the coding community. Feminists, now with Stephanie Guthrie as the figurehead, are looking to do even more damage to the social media community. (Feminists have also ruined the wikipedia community and are currently trying to ruin the WordPress community.)
Their modus operandi is becoming increasingly transparent – group together, time an ‘action’ and hurl as much mud as possible. The truth doesn’t matter to them. The idea of personal responsibility, of doing what Gregory Alan Elliott is willing to do – to sign one’s name to one’s actions, does not matter to them. It is time for this cowardly, disgusting behaviour to be highlighted – and punished. It is hoped that the criminal court of Ontario finds Gregory Alan Elliott not guilty. It is overwhelmingly likely that they will, and it is further hoped that this will see an end to the public whining and private scheming of over-privileged feminists like Stephanie Guthrie, Heather Reilly, and Paisley Rae.
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.