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UPDATED: GSWSSU criticises SFU Advocacy for Men & Boys in open letter

Student union accuses campus group of “thinly-veiled misogyny”

The open letter referred to the SFUAMB's event as "anti-feminist."
The open letter referred to the SFUAMB's event as "anti-feminist."

UPDATE: The SFU Advocacy for Men & Boys (SFUAMB) club have published their own open letter in response to the GSWSSU.

The letter is attributed to Theryn Meyer, the group’s president, speaking “on behalf of the SFUAMB.” It was published on the group’s website on Thursday, and includes a video of Meyer reciting the letter along with a written transcript. The letter disputes many of the GSWSSU’s arguments, including claims that the group is “anti-feminist” and “anti-woman.” It concludes with the following statement:

“[. . .] The general impression that I have gotten from this open letter is that of “you’re anti-woman/anti-feminist/misogynist because you don’t discuss gender the way we want you to and the way we demand you should.” This is simply an attempt at maintaining a monopoly on the conversation. Here at SFUAMB, we believe in a free market of ideas — no idea goes unchallenged.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

The Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies student union (GSWSSU) has published an open letter criticising SFU’s Advocacy for Men & Boys (SFU AMB) club, a campus group focused on addressing men’s issues, claiming that the club is “using men’s issues as a way to attack feminism.”

The letter was published on the union’s WordPress page on Monday, and is addressed primarily in response to SFU AMB’s November 8 event, “Toxic Masculinity & Toxic FEMININITY.” The event was promoted with posters showing a biohazard sign over a venus symbol, a gesture the open letter alleges is “offensive, hostile, and aggressive.” The main speaker for the event was Karen Straughan, a self-proclaimed “anti-feminist” and men’s rights advocate. A video recording of Straughan speaking at the event can be found here.

The letter also claims that the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) and Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) share the union’s concerns, and claims that the SFPIRG “will be releasing their own open letter soon.”

The SFU Advocacy for Men & Boys club identifies itself as being “committed to raising awareness about the issues that men and boys face in today’s society.” Jesse Velay-Vitow, Vice President of the group, responded to the open letter in an email correspondence with The Peak.

“The SFU AMB’s first priority is to increase awareness of and affect change concerning men’s issues,” he wrote. “If that can be done within a feminist framework, then great, but when it can not we will not hesitate to examine those beliefs and doctrines that harm men. Even if they are feminist.”

Velay-Vitow also noted that the group plans to “follow up with a more comprehensive response” to the letter in the near future.

When reached for comment, GSWSSU co-chair Laura Scheck expressed support for the letter, though she clarified that she did not write it herself and that the author wishes “to remain unnamed.” However, Scheck agreed to share a statement from the author: “given all the media attention given to rape chants at frosh and sexist Facebook pages and what’s happening at UBC right now, it’s surprising that SFU and the SFSS allow SFUAMB to hold events claiming that women and feminism are the problem.”

Currently, the SFUAMB is registered as an official club on the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) website. The SFSS Club Constitution, which all registered clubs must follow, states that the “views and actions” of any given club “do not necessarily represent the voice of the SFSS.”

“The main point, from my perspective, of publishing this letter was to call public attention to the issues we have with SFU AMB, rather than keeping the arguments between us and them privately,” Scheck added. “We wanted to call them out in a productive way [. . .] while also pointing out how their actions are more reflective of anti-feminist activism than actual men’s rights activism.”

“[SFU AMB] is serious about raising awareness of and creating positive societal change for issues affecting men and boys — feedback and constructive criticism is essential in that mission,” Velay-Vitow stated.

The GSWSSU letter concluded, “Until SFU AMB can demonstrate that they are interested in doing anything more than blaming feminists for problems that are in fact rooted in patriarchy, racism, colonialism, heterosexism, capitalism, ableism, and other forms of oppression and exploitation, we encourage other members of SFU to join us and speak out against them.”

This story is ongoing. Check back for updates as the situation progresses.

  • Charlie Hurd

    Feminists want to shut down discussion! What else is new? (sarcasm)

    • potatoes

      “The main point, from my perspective, of publishing this letter was to call public attention to the issues we
      have with SFU AMB, rather than keeping the arguments between us and them privately,” Scheck added.”

      They invited public scrutiny and discourse but god forbid if anyone disagrees with them. Lo and behold, GSWSSU terminated commenting functionality on the site they hosted the open letter. A scant ten comments, none of which were threatening, rude, or off-topic, was all it took for them to retreat into their echo chambers. Lord knows what would happen if they actually responded to dissenters with substantive evidence and reasoning.

      • Mancheeze

        OMG! An MRA can’t leave an abusive comment to women on a closed comment section! MISANDERING!

        • I’m back

          Feminist cry babies strike again.

  • STONE

    If you disagree with these self described “feminists” on one of the core tenets of their faith (such as the notion that males and females have conflicting/opposing collective interests), then they will automatically consider you to be an “anti-feminist”, because it means that you must be asserting that they are mistaken and therefore potentially ignorant, delusional, dishonest, foolish, or any number of negative things. But their reaction to such criticism is usually to play victim and to project and demonize anyone who disagrees with them. Zealotry comes in many flavours, but this feminist flavour of zealotry is particularly insidious.

  • potatoes

    Deleted my comment, eh? That’s in rather poor taste considering GSWSSU invited the public to participate in their little hissy fit. Given how The Peak does not have specific guidelines pertaining to comments in their policy section, I’m mighty curious to know why presenting Karen’s rebuttal to GSWSSU’s open letter was grounds for well… censorship.

  • Bruce

    I enjoy how such a large number of men’s rights activists always seems to have so much time on their hands to argue online

    • Fraga123

      Thank you, Empowered Man.
      Beautiful, brave.

    • thesteelguy

      actually Bruce, most men have had to show their support online cause if they do speak their mind honestly they’d fear backlash that’d cause devastation to their college admission, job and career.

    • matt10023

      As opposed to feminists online? Have you seen Tumbler?

  • Mancheeze

    It’s true that any Men’s rights group on campus are misogynist and are only concerned with harming women. I’ve researched these men for many years and I’ve worked behind the scenes for many women who have been targeted on University campuses. All one needs to do is understand that all these men and their few female counterparts are involved with the biggest hate site A Voice for Men.

    I’ve watched as ‘men’s groups’ and MRA’s have attacked women and professors at Queen’s and Ryerson. They’ve also been busy in the US too with one MRA sneaking into the women’s bathroom to put up A Voice for Men stickers. I’ve watched them video record women and then dox them online, which results in women having to close their social media accounts from misogynist harassment. A Voice for Men even offers money to dox women on campus, students and female workers.

    I have several police files open on several of these men for harassment, threats, and non stop stalking. You will see the response this comment gets and you will then understand that these MRA’s are not doing anything in good faith.

    The best thing SFU can do is not allow them to legitimize their groups under any student union.

    This is why the women must remain anonymous and the authoress of the letter cannot publish her name. The stalking and threats will begin if she does that.

    SFU must take action now. I hate to see my University having these problems with men’s rights activist. This will not get better unfortunately. If any women from the women’s centre want to contact me for the deeper issues that I’ve known about for the last 9 years of my research, you can find me on WordPress as I blog under the same name.

    • Howard Gordan

      Yes, because those men and women wanting to discuss male domestic violence victims want to harm women. Those wanting to discuss male suicide want to harm women. Those discussing fathers lack of custodial rights want to harm women. Those that want to discuss men’s health want to harm women. Those that want to discuss the gender gap in education want to harm women. Those that want to discuss feminists’ desire to silence any discussion of the above and to discuss feminists’ desire to oppose equal parenting laws or oppose any funds being spent on domestic violence shelters for men or oppose men’s health centers in government for men and so many other issues are only looking to harm women. It’s you that is looking to harm men and boys by making sure anyone that doesn’t kowtow to the anti-male agenda of feminism is silenced by pretending their goal is to harm women.

      • Mancheeze

        Ok I’ll bite. The problem is you DON’T address any of those issues. All you MRA’s ever do is blame women and feminists for your problems. You distract from the real issues.

        So one by one, I’ll address your ‘points.’

        Male suicide: ever heard of a crisis line? They’re free for everyone. Counseling? Men and women have the same services available to them but the problem is men don’t use them. Do MRA’s address the fact that men don’t use health services? Uh, no.

        Domestic Violence: First off, MRA’s are either ignorant or outright misrepresenting this issue. Domestic violence happens to men but not at the rate you think it does. MRA’s cherry pick studies by Straus and think posting a link to a bibliography is research. Any DV researcher or front line worker will tell you that the majority of DV happens to WOMEN, not men. That’s why there are more services for women. Don’t try quoting your cherry picked ‘studies’ because I’m tired to death of hearing the same crap.

        Custody and Shared Parenting: if only you MRA’s were honest about this issue. Richard Gardner coined the term called Parental Alienation. He was a misogynist that blamed women and mothers for kids not wanting to see their father. PA is not a recognized diagnosis. It was completely and utterly rejected by other psychiatrists. IOW, it’s not a real thing.

        The only time you can’t see your kids is if you’re an abuser or you don’t want to. Most of the father’s rights activists are abusers and that’s why they’re prevented from seeing their kids. Nobody is ENTITLED to have instant shared parenting before a custody hearing but that’s what you MRA’s want and you’ll never get it. It’s insane to demand 50% custody without any hearing before a judge to determine fitness to parent and yet that’s what you’re demanding.

        There is no gender gap in education. Just b/c more women are in Uni doesn’t mean men are disadvantaged. If you actually researched WHY men aren’t going to Uni you’d figure out they’re enrolling in trade schools because of the ECONOMY. Not because there’s some secret cabal of feminists preventing men from getting an education.

        So stop whining. I know all the ‘talking points’ you MRA’s bleat about and I know all the reasons why. I’m familiar with every bit of nonsense you’re going to throw at me because I’ve researched your hate movement for several years. I know your rhetoric better than you do I bet.

        All the above ‘problems’ you screech about you blame on WOMEN and FEMINISM. That’s why nobody will take you seriously. I’ve never seen Paul Elam put up crisis line numbers on his front page for men who are depressed. I’ve never seen him advocate anything healthy for men. All he does, and all MRA’s do, is spew misogynist abuse at women online and offline. That’s your ‘movement.’

        • Howard Gordan

          Thank you for your comment. You have clearly proved my point. Yes , any father that wants to see his children more MUST be an abuser. Fathers never want to be with their children because they truly love them. Thats NOWs explanation and you have shown feminism for what it is. A hate movement to vilify men and boys and fathers and anytime anyone wants to have a conference to discuss issues men and boys face or wants to open a mens center feminists like you do everything to shut them down and silence them with your feminist hate mongering. And the CDC study showing men to be half the victims of domestic violence has nothing to do with straus or the hundreds of other studies showing similar results. And only man hating femminists deny parental alienation exists. Even though as an MRA we advocate against it when it happens to women too.
          You are a poor excuse of a man to deny men and boys suffer in any way and deny they deserve the right to discuss issues facing them.

          • Mancheeze

            Once again your comment shows little awareness and a complete lack of comprehension. You will never get instant custody without a hearing and that’s what you MRA’s want. I’ve researched the ‘father’s rights’ movement, where these guys have criminal records for battering and climb the roofs of politicians homes demanding access to kids that a court has already found they are UNFIT parents. So stop with the ‘shared parenting’ crap. You misrepresent what it is you truly want which is complete access to children without a hearing to determine fitness.

            Telling me ‘manhating feminists’ deny PA is ADHOM since the DSM denies it as does every other valid psychological body. IOW dude, it’s not a valid diagnosis. It never will be either. .

            The CDC study. Wow am I glad you brought that up. There have been several posts showing how inept you MRA’s are at reading studies. In fact, some people, have even contacted the CDC and even they have made statements showing that you misinterpreted the data they presented.

            So yes, try the Fiebert bibliography next will you? I just love how you MRA’s are like those wind-up toys. You wind em up and they sputter about for a while until you wind em up again. What’s next? What will the MRA take from his standard bag o tricks next?

    • Fraga123

      These males need to be tagged and bagged. After intake, they can be processed into protein-rich snacks to be served at Women’s Centers and gay abortion rallies.

  • Terry Bauer

    The simple-minded dichotomy that feminists insist on is getting pretty trite: if you’re not a feminist, you must be anti-feminist and therefore must be silenced. Never do feminists consider the possibility that societal problems might actually have roots outside patriarchy, racism, colonialism, etc. Simply offering an alternative point of view is enough to have feminists pounce and denounce. And god forbid you offer a point of view that criticizes feminism to any degree at all! I stopped calling myself a feminist because of the small-minded and sexist attitudes the pervade modern feminism.

    • Environment Grad

      lol be honest, if you really think that abandoning the idea that women and men should have equal rights is an appropriate response because you disagree with what some people do to achieve those ends, you don’t understand what being a feminist is.

      • Terry Bauer

        I didn’t suggest anywhere in my comment that we should abandon the idea that men and women ought to have equal rights. Your reply is a non sequitur.

        • Environment Grad

          The only problem is that the definition of Feminism is: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

          I feel that many people are conflating what feminism IS with tactics that they view are a problem. Also, I think you might want to meet more ‘feminists’ because I know many people who do consider intersectionality (which is what you are describing). Not everyone does, but they do not define ourselves. You might just realize that you are a feminist among like-minded individuals.

          (Lol, if you want to see a non-sequitur response, check out thesteelguys reply to my same comment you just responded to … ).

          • Terry Bauer

            Hi E.G., thanks for taking the time to explain your position a little more fully. Unfortunately I don’t think you really understood my point. Essentially, my point was that many feminists today are unwilling to tolerate alternative points of view on the subject of gender issues and gender equality. However, disagreeing with feminist perspectives doesn’t automatically entail abandonment of gender equality, as your reply, and the GSWSSU open letter, both suggest. One can take other paths toward the goal of gender equality. Thesteelguy’s response, which you characterized as a non-sequitur, illustrates the point nicely. Essentially, he’s saying: supporting A does not automatically entail supporting B. Thus, support for worker’s rights doesn’t automatically entail support for communism. Likewise, people who support gender equality don’t automatically support feminism. Thus, the inverse proposition is also true: just because some of us don’t support feminism (the reasons for which are another discussion entirely) that doesn’t mean we don’t support gender equality.

            Again, thanks for taking time to reply. I’ve enjoyed the discussion. :-)

          • Tvol

            “The only problem is that the definition of Feminism is: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

            Glad you brought that up. It’s the advocacy of women’s rights. The “political, social, and economic equality of the sexes” (which is the more common definition), is just the grounds used for it. It is *not* the advocacy of equal rights. It’s not anywhere close to egalitarianism. If we’re really going to go the “it’s the definition, duh” route, then feminists have to concede that their movement is not about equality, it’s about the advocacy of women’s rights. That’s fine and all, but trying to pass it off as “actually being about equality” is just bullshit.

      • thesteelguy

        i’m all for worker rights. doesn’t mean i’m a communist. please use your brain and try to understand the example i’ve given.

        • Environment Grad

          lolz try not to hurt yourself in insulting me.

          • thesteelguy

            fail.

      • Neil Westlake

        Oh there are thousands of us who understand what feminism is. Feminism is what is does, not what it says it is.

  • Environment Grad

    Just because you might disagree with someone on their tactics is not the same thing as rejecting a belief. If you disagree with this letter, that doesn’t mean that you are not a feminist. You are not a feminist if you do not believe that women should have equal rights politically, socially, and economically to any other gender. It doesn’t matter what your friend John or Marie told you what ‘feminist’ meant. Look it up, or you will look like an idiot too.

    I would fail most of you people if you were in my tutorial. Your responses do not make any sense. If you disagree with something in this article, that does not mean you are against feminism.

    Here I’ll google that for you:

    fem·i·nism
    ˈfeməˌnizəm/
    noun
    the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

    • thesteelguy

      oh great. another dictionary-worm.
      keep the dictionary to yourself please.

    • Thermal Reboot

      Just because that’s what the dictionary say’s doesn’t make it so. Feminism in practice is a toxic mix of feminine chauvanism and socialism. It’s grounded in myth and mysandry. There is no such thing a feminist scholarship.

    • Environment Grad

      Lol, Thermal Reboot and thesteelguy, you have just really shown the true colours of many of these MRA type trolls. I never thought that someone would accuse me of partisanship for quoting a dictionary. Just because you ignorantly want a word to mean something else doesn’t mean it does officially.

      Are you so paranoid to think that Websters Dictionary is taken over in some sort of SJW kabol, plotting every day to further subjugate men to subterranean prisons? (BECAUSE YOU’RE RIGHT #KILLALLMEN)

  • matt10023

    So if I have this right, arguing for men’s rights is misogyny, ergo any discussion of men’s rights must be stopped. Ladies, it’s not a zero sum game. Noting there are men who also are abused, or get a raw deal from the courts does not have to detract from your efforts. That is, unless your goal is punish men because of their gender.

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