One of Toronto’s most entertaining political battles over the past few months has been between radical feminists and ‘men’s rights’ campaigners. Both sides are saddled with angry extremists, so their intolerance for each other has made for some spectacular viewing. The situation leaves many people wondering how far each side is willing to go to take down the other- does their conflict have the potential to get dangerous?
The most recent chapter in their conflict came at the end of May, shortly before the Canadian Association For Equality’s (CAFE) planned fundraising concert on June 1st. This obviously left the feminists displeased, they reacted as expected, pooling their efforts for a slacktivist hate-fest aimed at shutting down CAFE’s concert before it even got started. Their approach was to compare the men’s activists to the horrors of Elliott Rodger’s shooting spree in California. Ultimately the concert was shut-down after venue operators made the (dodgy) claim that it’s against their policy to host political events.
But who’s really dangerous here- the men’s rights activists, or the feminists?
A Brief History Of Hate:
CAFE’s first notable meeting was back in November 2012 when they invited controversial writer Warren Farrell to speak at a meeting at the University of Toronto. Their guests were surprised the night of the event when a group of feminist supporters came with the intention of blocking them from entering. The feminists clashed with police- yelling, swearing, and trying to break through their lines. A video from that night shows the level of vitriol:
It’s important to note that there was no misogyny, no hate, and no calls to violence from the men’s rights activists. Those who were being blocked from entering simply stood there and politely asked questions. Meanwhile, the feminists were yelling at the ‘pigs’. The UofT’s provost later wrote that the feminist’s actions were ‘a threat to free speech’.
The next big clash came in March of 2013 when CAFE organized another event, this time featuring University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo. Once again, feminists and anarchists gathered masked-up at the entrance expressing their anger and hate. One of the protesters pulled the fire alarm half-way through the event, endangering people’s safety with an unnecessary visit by several fire trucks. Once again, the men’s rights activists showed no signs of aggression.
CAFE organized another event at the UofT in April 2013. And, once again, feminist protesters came with the intention to bully and intimidate- the crowd included a prominent organizer of “f##k the police” marches, and a man who is currently being prosecuted for aggravated assault on a journalist. Not being too creative, they pulled the fire alarm.
The most interesting part of that evening’s interaction were the conversations that happened outside while waiting for the firemen to give the all clear- as much as there are extremists, there are also people who are open to dialogue:
The one commonality in all of these incidents is that the men’s rights groups came to have a discussion, and the feminists came feeling they had the privilege to use force shut down their conversation. Despite the feminist’s accusations, they were the only people expressing violence and hate.
Which Side Is Most Likely To Shoot From The Bell Tower?
In a post-cancellation slacktivist victory dance in the Toronto Star, Women In Politics co-founder Stephanie Guthrie tried to smear CAFE by comparing their members to California murderer Elliott Roger:
“When an alienated and upset, impressionable person spends a lot of time in an online forum where a lot of people shared his hateful views and validate his hateful views, sometimes bad things happen,”
It’s an interesting comment from a couple of perspectives. First, the event was about bringing people together in real-life- if it’s dangerous for people to spend too much time isolated in online forums, it could be helpful to bring them together at a group event. Perhaps, if Elliott Roger had a real-life outlet to express his problems, six people wouldn’t have had to die.
More interesting, of course, is the source of the accusation. Guthrie is a feminist warrior who’s not unknown to speak before she thinks things through- particularly when there’s media coverage to be gained. In 2012 she took-on the creator of a game a misguided young man created where the goal was to punch a controversial feminist. Also that year, Guthrie was the alleged victim of criminal harassment in the ongoing case against Gregory Allan Elliott.
When she appeared on the witness stand in the Elliott case, his lawyer questioned Guthrie about her behaviour during the video game incident. The man who created the video game had his personal details ‘doxxed’ (published online). Elliott’s lawyer asked her if she thought it was okay that her actions may have exposed the game’s author to the danger of being attacked (what she described as “extra-judicial action”). She responded saying that she was perfectly okay with that happening; Elliott’s lawyer then re-asked (and re-asked) to be sure that she knew what she was saying- she made it very clear her conscience would be clear if he had got hurt.
Bigots On Both Sides, But One Is More Dangerous:
Having observed both the radfems and men’s rights activists at their events, it’s impossible to say anything but that there are bigots on both sides. In some ways what Guthrie says about the men’s groups is true, their movement is a magnet for people with extremist views. That said, her argument that CAFE is a danger to Canadian society has absolutely zero backing- without that, they’re nothing more than ad-hominem attacks.
The feminist side, however, is increasingly becoming a serious threat. First there’s the obvious, some people’s willingness to use physical force (while swearing at the ‘pigs’) is highly problematic- one day someone is going to get hurt. But, the more serious threat is to people’s right to exercise free speech without external hindrance. The radfem’s insistence on their right to “shut them down” trough “extra-judicial action” is nothing more than mob rule. We cannot accept this in Canadian society- no matter how repulsive we feel the other’s speech may be.
ArtScape’s Dodgy Excuse For The Cancellation:
CAFE had planned to hold their event at a venue run by a Toronto non-profit called Artscape. But, when the slacktivists started attacking, Artscape quickly pulled the plug explaining on their Facebook page that “the event was political in nature, which contravenes our policy”. They later refined this message adding to their explanation how the risk of the feminist thugs invading the event could “have health and safety concerns”.
Their statement about their policy is rather curious, as they appear to have hosted many past political events. Exactly one month before CAFE’s event was scheduled, they hosted the MayWorks “Festival of Working People And the Arts”, an event that’s political to its core. They’ve also hosted political rallies for the NDP- it’s great to see those Trillium grants being used for ‘non-partisan’ purposes…