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.