To the editors of The Peak:
Re: “SFU isn’t ready for a Men’s Centre”
I was initially excited when I saw the cover of the latest edition. Men’s issues is often a topic only seen fit to parody, as The Peak has done in the past. I assumed the cover was a tongue in cheek joke, as painting a safe space for men as a boys club is tired rhetoric. The tagline that “SFU needs to build a Men’s Centre for the right reasons,” is however a bit verbose, it would be akin to saying that SFU needs to continue funding the Women’s Centre “for the right reasons.” As I read the article it came to light that it was less a discussion of the possibility of a Men’s Centre, and more an endorsement of the Women’s Centre.
The thing is, no one needs to be convinced at this point that women’s issues need to be addressed, however the same can not be said about men’s issues. Look at what’s going on at Ryerson university.
In reading your article I have a few comments.
You comment that what’s needed is a movement by the community as opposed to a power play. I agree, I am a member and leader in that community; I’m the vice-president of the Simon Fraser University Advocacy for Men and Boys Club. Our mission is to increase the awareness of men’s issues on campus.
The question “Why isn’t there a Men’s Centre?” is often asked, and legitimately so. If your answer is that men’s problems don’t hold a candle to the issues of women, then you are ignorant of the facts. The statement that women are more likely to be violently victimized is patently false. Men make up the vast majority of murder victims as well as non fatal assaults. Men make up the vast majority of suicides and are equally likely to suffer domestic violence [this latter claim is disputed by multiple sources – ed]. That women are marginalized more than men is also suspect. Women make up the majority of university students, and women in the millennial generation are out earning their male counterparts.
After having read your article I looked at the cover in a more sober light. I am annoyed by the men’s inability to spell; this casts them as juvenile. [The sign that says] “no girls allowed” also harkens back to the tired trope of the boys club. SFUAMB’s President is a woman. A majority of our volunteers are women. Most of the people who stop by our tables to talk are women. We are open to all, we do not discriminate based on gender, creed, race or anything else. There is only one place on campus that discriminates via gender. And that is the Women’s Centre.
I, however, take no issue with this, as long as the same would be permitted in theory for men: to set up a safe space to talk about our issues. This is one key way in which the Women’s Centre, though admirable for its inclusion of all genders, can not accommodate the needs of men. With the building of the new student union building slated to start, there is no excuse not to grant a space if requested. If the thought of a group of men getting together scares you, your misandry is showing.
SFU prides itself for having such a long running Women’s Centre. A centre that has done good work and helped countless self-identified women. Maybe SFU could find it in it’s heart to become one of the first Canadian Universities to start a Men’s Centre. In 20 years, SFU will again be proud that it stood on the right side of history.
Simon Fraser University Advocacy for Men and Boys