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A Voice for Men's Canadian rape apologist campaign: Hate speech hits our streets

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The American hate site, A Voice for Men (AVfM), is bringing its toxic message of misogyny and rape apologism to the streets of Canadian cities through a propaganda campaign centred around a grotesque and entirely false narrative that states that it is now men who are the victims of systemic violence and injustice in our country and that demonizes feminism and feminists. They further aim to directly undermine strategies to combat sexual violence against not only women and girls, but also, in fact, against men and boys by denying the gendered reality of the perpetrators of sexual violence of all kinds (regardless of the gender of the victim), who are overwhelmingly male.

The campaign is a set of total lies from start to finish. It is completely analogous to other hate movements historically whose goal is to turn reality entirely on its head, as with Nazis who blamed Jews for Germany's ills or, as happens regularly today, with North American white supremacists who project their own history of violence and brutality upon racialized and marginalized communities and who claim "reverse racism" when people stand up for their rights.

The demented "logic" of the campaign is expressed by an AVfM supporter, who is a woman, on a Saskatoon radio site:

 A Voice for Men is behind the posters here and Alison Tieman, who spoke for the group from Kelvington, said the group has the same message as Men’s Rights Edmonton.

“We would like to see an honest look at statistics about sexual assault. We would also like to see campaigns that reflect all sexual assault victims,” said Tieman, who has been a part of the counter-feminist movement for 15 years.

The Edmonton posters that were put up by Men’s Rights Edmonton are a take on the widely-known “Don’t be that Guy” campaign against sexual assault. They read, "Don't be that Girl...Just because you regret a one night stand doesn't mean it wasn’t consensual. Lying about sexual assault = a crime.'

“We are supporting the posters that were put up because they draw attention to the fact that the original posters single out men—all men—as potential rapists,” Tieman said.

“The original campaign posters are telling men not to be that guy which suggests that if they hadn’t told them, they would be that guy.”

The original campaign posters encourage female victims of sexual assault to come forward. Tieman said they prevent male victims to come forward because it pins sexual assault, as a whole, on men.

This sounds "convincing" for those predisposed to believe it, or for the willfully stupid, but in truth everything about it is false. When she says "We would like to see an honest look at statistics about sexual assault" one has to wonder if this is true, as the facts completely refute these transparent lies.

What the statistics actually show is that, in Canada, regardless of the gender of the victim:

Regardless of the type of offence, males were consistently more likely than females to be the accused. Sexual offences showed the highest representation of males: 98% of all persons charged with sexual assault level 1, child pornography and sexual violations against children in 2011 were male.

In other words, even when men are victims of sexual assault,  they are in virtually every case being victimized by other men. Sexual assault, as a whole, should be pinned on men. 98%  of perpetrators being male makes the miniscule number of female perpetrators, while not at all excusing their crimes, a statistical anomaly as opposed to a systemic issue.

In addition, according to Statistics Canada's latest numbers (emphasis added):

The majority of perpetrators of police-reported violence against women were men. Overall, men were responsible for 83% of violence committed against women, with women accounting for the remaining 17%. The share of violence committed by men differed by the accused person's relationship with the female victim. Male accused accounted for 60% of violence committed by friends or acquaintances, 68% of non-spousal family violence, 74% of stranger violence and 98% of intimate partner violence. The over-representation of men as accused was also evident for violence directed at men, with male accused representing 76% of all perpetrators.

As you can see men represent the vast majority of perpetrators of violence.

Violence against men does exist. It is however, a male issue. A systemic male problem that stems from the male dominated reality of a violence driven patriarchy and men are responsible for it as a whole. This is why when one speaks of  issues of violence directed at men it is not at all akin to violence against women.

Even in relative terms with the alleged decline of male violence the disparity in who commits violence, according to gender, is astonishing. Again from Statistics Canada:

Since 1991, the rate of males charged with violent crime has declined 32%, while the rate for females has increased 34%. However, males still accounted for more than 4 in 5 people accused of violent crime in 2011.

The statistics are so clear that what the AVfM campaign amounts to is an attempt to deny and even facilitate rape culture. This becomes apparent when AVfM bigot extraordinaire, Paul Elam, pens a diatribe entitled "I'll decide if you were raped, not you" (seriously, that was what it was titled) in which he states:

In fact, you may be so emotional about the matter that you are not going to be the most reliable informant of the facts. As an alleged victim, you are certainly not the most qualified arbiter of what constitutes rape to begin with. It is undoubtedly better that you just shut up about the matter -- go somewhere where we don’t have to look at you or listen to you complain -- and let someone more capable gather the facts and make a mature sensible decision about what happened.

Like me, for instance.

Actually, I can’t think of anyone better qualified to make a rational determination of the facts; who can avoid the hysterics often associated with the claim of rape, or things that might be misinterpreted as rape, and who can make a sound, considered decision about what happened to you and what to call it. So please, give the rape crisis line and everyone else a break while I sort things out.

You can just tell me what happened, then go off and cry, or go on Oprah, or do whatever it is women do when they think that someone has raped them. I will sort through all the details and then come back to you later, after I have had some time to make a considered and complete evaluation.

I will be the one to decide if you were raped, or just someone who was temporarily inconvenienced.

I have to tell you, though, that I am not one to just go around calling every claim a rape on behalf of women just because they drum up a few tears, or have a few bruises to show off.

Like that girl at Steubenville; the one who partied a little too hearty and then just happened to be penetrated by some of the guys she was partying with. Opportunistic sex? Yeah. Rape? No, not rape. Not even close.

All the outrage I read about the sympathy for the “perpetrators” was way off the mark. These guys needed alcohol and drug education, perhaps a good talking to, but not prison. Prison is for rapists, real rapists, not a couple of kids that got carried away at a party.

Then there was that woman, whatever her name was, in India that made worldwide headlines just a few months ago; the one that was murdered and allegedly raped on a bus in Delhi. The facts on that one don’t wash, either. Sure, she was beaten. There is evidence to support that, particularly in that she died from her injuries. Without a doubt, she was murdered.

But not raped, so let’s try not to get carried away with the righteous indignation, mmkay?

This is what the men's rights movement is about. This is what they represent.

If this were a society and a culture in which hatred against women was not so ingrained, they would be seen to be the dangerous equivalent to the KKK that they are. Instead, they and their Canadian campus based allies like the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) are given inordinate media attention and their nonsense is increasingly spread by a willing reactionary press.While CAFE often claims to be unaffiliated with AVfM, their leaders have appeared on AVfM podcasts, have refused to disavow AVfM intimidation campaigns, and their campus clubs have used AVfM tactics and enjoyed AVfM backing.

They are birds of a feather, with the Canadian crew being predictably too gutless to acknowledge affiliation with their nasty Yankee brethren. In fact, the entire, internationally notorious and AVfM fronted hate campaign that was directed toward the "red headed" feminist flowed out of a CAFE sponsored event.

AVfM are clever in that they align themselves with a preexisting, obsessive and very widespread, pathetic and contemptuous group of women-haters. We see this in the paint-by-numbers, juvenile misogyny of, for example, Robin Thicke's hit song and video, Blurred Lines. This is a nearly perfect embodiment of the profound existential inferiority complex that seems to be gripping so many men in this era of Internet patriarchal revanchist clusterfucking where a troubling number of men are reaching out to each other through the ether to find those who also feel that the "real problem" is that "feminists" are too uptight to see the humour and frat boy nuance in a song with a line like "I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two."

And there are so many other examples of this kind of popular culture ugliness and misogyny that serve to directly enable the mindsets of those who engage in the countless online hate attacks that men direct at women and feminists. It is becoming exhausting and depressing to keep track.

Rape culture, the perpetuation and the acceptance of sexual violence and exploitation against women depend upon a culture  that excuses criminal and sexually violent behaviour and rhetoric by men, especially men that our communities see as "heroes" or "important," like rock stars, politicians, football stars, and so on.

From the Blurred Lines of Robin Thicke to the street rape apologism of AVfM, the line is a direct one.

When CAFE and AVfM launch their new wave of Canadian campus and city campaigns in the fall, it is time for university administrators, men, leftists, members of the press and activists to take a stand.

There is nothing revolutionary about "a voice for men." The entire history of our civilization has been the voices of men.

Natalie Lochwin is an artist, an activist, and the Spokesperson for the Socialist Party of Ontario.

Michael Laxer is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the Socialist Party of Ontario.

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