In the first week of February 2016, notorious “neo-masculinist” Roosh V’s proposed meetups for his “pick-up artist” (PUA) followers across the world were crushed by the collective anger and power of the masses. Across Canada, the people mobilized protests and militant responses to what was correctly identified as the hate speech of the anti-feminist Roosh V and his misogynist followers. But the battle against the backwards ideas of reactionaries who seek to push back the gains of the feminist struggle over the last decades must not stop there. The PUAs represent only one especially disgusting section of the entire network of websites, organizations, and communities that make up the so-called “manosphere,” a network that has its political expression in the infamous Men’s Rights Activism. We must not hesitate to expose this entire movement, from its militant fringes to its sanitized fronts, for what it is: a reactionary movement of male-supremacists seeking to preserve a status quo of oppression, hierarchy, and inequality. Openly misogynist and backwards “manosphere” groups like the notorious American network A Voice for Men (AVfM) hold extreme right-wing views, including: that male power and structural inequality under patriarchy are a myth, as Warren Farrell claims in a 1990s book often described as the “Bible” or the “red pill” of the Men’s Rights Movement; that the existence of rape culture is a lie perpetuated by feminists to oppress men, so that accusations of rape are nothing more than a tool to keep women in a dominant position in society; and that present-day society is structured to disadvantage and victimize men as a class. All of these ideas are explicitly spelled out in many articles on A Voice for Men’s website.
In Canada, the Revolutionary Student Movement has taken a leading role in organizing against the sanitized MRA front known as CAFE, the Canadian Association for Equality. Knowing that most people will reject the openly misogynist and backwards ideas of groups like Roosh V’s PUAs and AVfM, CAFE uses an elaborate and dishonest branding strategy to keep its political agenda covert. But a closer look reveals that although CAFE is careful to maintain its organizational autonomy, it is politically affiliated with these reactionary groups and exists to give institutional legitimacy to their foundational ideas and causes. At times the connection becomes explicit, as when CAFE promoted an AVfM conference on its website as “important to Canadians,” or when AVfM founder Paul Elam and CAFE board member Adam McPhee held a dialogue on AVfM that ended with Paul Elam happily concluding that he saw “a bright future with both organizations moving forward with their missions enjoying mutual moral support.”
Furthermore, all of CAFE’s events – including a talk by Warren Farrell, who is also one of CAFE’s advisory fellows – have received enthusiastic coverage from A Voice for Men and its extended network of toxic misogynists. CAFE’s practice of recording protesters at its events on video has resulted in female protesters being identified, tracked down, harassed, and threatened, a practice known as “doxing.” In at least one case, AVfM published a full article exposing a CAFE event protester in depth, written by an anonymous MRA referring to himself as a part of a “growing underground army” and comparing himself to the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. The affinity between CAFE, AVfM, and still more underground sections of the “manosphere” make this much more than an empty threat. In March 2014, a Queen’s student publicly involved in planning a protest to a CAFE event, a lecture by University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo, was assaulted and beaten by unidentified attackers the night before the talk. To be sure, CAFE as an organization denounces these individual instances of violence. But these tactics are entirely characteristic of the broader Men’s Rights Movement of which it is a part, a movement that argues that women and feminists specifically are oppressors with whom men are at war. This backwards logic, through which the oppressed are portrayed as an oppressor group that the dominant group must combat in order to preserve their status and identity, is nearly identical to the logic of fascism. In this way, CAFE creates a climate of fear on and off Canadian university campuses to quash and eliminate feminist struggle for genuine equality and justice. This is why we say that even and especially when they try to present themselves as respectable, MRAs must be confronted, exposed, and stamped out everywhere they arise!
We want to say a few words about the people involved in CAFE. Not all of them are open misogynists, and CAFE is quick to put forward its more liberal members as evidence that they are not like other MRA organizations. Some of the people it has attracted seem genuinely concerned with real, existing issues that affect men: suicide and mental health, unsafe working conditions, homelessness, education. But a quick look at its events shows that CAFE, like other sections of the Men’s Rights Movement, merely exploits these issues, claiming that they are all signs of a societal conspiracy against men as a class that feminists cover up by talking about the oppression of women.In this way, MRAs take advantage of the political powerlessness and exploitation of the masses to push forward their reactionary, misogynist agenda. We completely reject the incorrect, incoherent, and dangerous answers they provide to actually existing oppression and exploitation in capitalist society.
The Revolutionary Student Movement is a militant pan-Canadian anti-capitalist organization that organizes working-class students to advance the class struggle on campuses and build a movement to bring about the end of exploitation, oppression, and alienation on the basis of class, race, sexuality, gender identity, and disability. We see this end as achievable only through the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, a mode of production founded on the exploitation of the working class that has caused endless misery in every society organized along its lines – that has brought about suicide and mental health issues, unsafe working conditions, homelessness, underfunded education, along with many of the other social issues CAFE claims to care about, everywhere it has been put into operation. Capitalism also functions by turning dominant sections of the masses against other groups, along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, language, and whatever else it can opportunistically exploit to keep the masses from uniting to smash their shared enemy. In this regard, misogynist ideas, like other reactionary and backwards ideas, set back the people’s struggle for the end of exploitation and oppression.
The RSM is proud of its history of confronting Men’s Rights reactionaries when they have attempted to organize on campuses across Canada. In April 2014, comrades at the University of Ottawa shut down a lecture by Janice Fiamengo on the non-existence of rape culture; in August of the same year, the Toronto section of the RSM successfully countered another lecture of one of CAFE’s satellite fronts at the University of Toronto. These actions have seen an escalation in the response of CAFE to student protesters; security and police are now commonly found standing by prior to events, anticipating disruptions ahead of time.
Most recently, an RSM action at University of Ottawa on February 10th drew a direct response from CAFE advisor and Ottawa branch Vice-President Janice Fiamengo. Fiamengo is a celebrity in the “manosphere” for her regular video series, the “Fiamengo Files,” which airs on YouTube via an account called “StudioBrulé,” the very same account that posts videos of CAFE events. Fiamengo’s videos argue explicitly that feminism is a totalitarian system that oppresses men. In one video, she argues that open rape apologist Roosh V is a wronged victim of the feminist establishment, and cites approvingly from his article “How to Stop Rape,” in which he describes rape allegations as hoaxes used by women to persecute “the previous night’s lover” and goes on to argue for the legalization of rape. In another video from February 2016, she calls for men to “take back their power and their pride” and describes how feminism is turning her into a self-described “raging misogynist.” Given her far-right political line, which leads her to argue in other videos that equity is anti-meritocratic and discriminatory against men, that sexual harassment is a dangerous myth, and that feminism literally wants to degrade men’s souls and take away their specific virtues of independence, objectivity, and strength, it’s not surprising that she has also authored violently racist and Islamophobic editorials. In one, co-authored with her husband, the extreme-right ideologue David Solway, she argues that Islam must be rejected altogether from the West and that the so-called “Muslim surge” will bring more and more terrorist attacks on Judeo-Christian values and people.
It is unacceptable to everyone who opposes Islamophobic, racist, misogynist, and fascist ideas that Fiamengo, who defends known rape apologists, who organizes a hate group on campus, and who shows nothing but contempt for students, is a professor at the University of Ottawa! She is the primary organizer of CAFE at uOttawa, alongside David Shackleton, a retired biology professor who has claimed that feminism today behaves like Nazism did leading up to the second world war, that “the coming war is inevitable,” and that “we have to take women off the pedestal, and we won’t do that as a culture until we see the evil that they do.” He has also argued that the mass shooting of women accused of being feminists by Marc Lepine at Polytechnique in 1989 was an inevitable result of feminist persecution of men.
In light of all this, the RSM is glad to be attacked by Janice Fiamengo for consistently confronting her organization, the Canadian Association for Equality. We are not interested in a dialogue with her or her organization. We intend to confirm what they suspect: that the masses, the people themselves, racialized, gender-oppressed, exploited, marginalized, recognize the Men’s Rights Movement for what it is, in all of its forms, and will reject it, through direct action if necessary, wherever it rears its head.
We invite everyone who shares these values and who finds it unacceptable that people like David Shackleton, Janice Fiamengo, and Warren Farrell are trying to spread their influence on Canadian campuses to join us in organizing to shut down future CAFE events and stamp out MRA lies, distortion, and deception! If you are concerned about CAFE or any other Men’s Rights Movement presence on your campus, get in touch with the local branch of the Revolutionary Student Movement. Together we can stamp out MRA ideas and fight for the rights, safety, and equality of women and gender-oppressed people on our campuses and in our communities, as well as the rights of all people to leave free of oppression and exploitation in this rotten capitalist system!
The RSM pledges to support struggles against MRAs wherever we have the capacity to do so. We are not afraid of combating reactionary organizations when they try take root around us. We call on everyone who wants to see them gone to join us, they won’t stop unless we stop them!
Down with MRAs, long live the people’s struggle!