Canadian Association for Equality spokesman Adam McPhee promotes men’s rights by harassing Jessica Valenti on Twitter

Some guys aren't freaked out by tampons.

Some guys aren’t freaked out by tampons.

Jessica Valenti – Guardian columnist, Feministing founder, non-man-hating feminist – has been fending off an unending torrent of harassment and abuse since she tweeted a picture of herself wearing an ironic t-shirt a couple of weeks ago.

Last weekend, a seemingly innocent tweet from her– asking her readers if they knew any countries that provided free tampons – set off yet another wave of abuse. Her question, and the cogent column she ultimately wrote on the subject, arguing that there are legitimate health concerns that justify government subsidies for tampons, inspired countless thoughtful comments from her critics. Like these:

These sorts of comments (and there were many more along these lines) are sadly typical of the sorts of things feminists – particularly those of the female variety – get whenever they happen to state their opinion about anything online. (If you click on the second one you can see the Tweeter defending his vagina remarks against assorted critics.)

But a reader pointed me to something, well, interesting about that second tweet: It came from a fellow named Adam McPhee, a self-professed “egalitarian” who just happens to be a board member, and the official spokesperson, for a group we’ve discussed here before: the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE).

CAFE has won itself a certain notoriety in recent months. In May, you might recall, the group’s planned E-Day festival fell apart after its sponsors and some of the musicians scheduled to perform at it discovered that they had unwittingly signed on to a Men’s Rights event.

The group has also organized talks by antifeminist speakers, including the now-notorious appearance of Warren Farrell at the University of Toronto, which inspired some, well, let’s just call them counterproductive protests that we’ve been hearing about endlessly ever since.

But CAFE has been working hard to gain itself a bit of respectability. It somehow managed to win itself charity status from the Candadian government, and has raised money to start up some sort of men’s center. And it has been trying to distance itself from one formerly close ally, A Voice for Men.

Indeed, McPhee himself recently gave an interview to the Toronto Star in which he described AVFM’s harassment of some of those who protested Warren Farrell’s talk as “completely wrong.”

So it seems just a tad ironic, to say the least, to see McPhee happily harassing Jessica Valenti on Twitter.

PS: Adam, I agree with Jessica on that whole tampon thing. So feel free to Tweet me your thoughts about my gaping vagina.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on August 18, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 107 Comments.

  1. Most of the time I’ve found those dispensers to actually be full but they cost a small fortune. Put in £2 and get maybe three tampons out. Oh and they only ever accept certain coins, so if you don’t have the right change you’re stuffed.

  2. Ones in the US (that I’ve seen, anyway) tend to be anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar for one tampon or napkin. Same thing about the change. If you don’t have quarters, you’re stuck trying to jury-rig up your own solution or resign yourself to having a very messy day. I think the closest I’ve ever come to being a hero was the time when a dispenser ate another woman’s money and I just happened to have an extra in my bag.

  3. @Flyingmouse, that’s why I’ve left the emergency tampons that I keep in every bag where they are! You never know when someone will need one. My only regret is that I haven’t used pads in years so I don’t carry any with me, so once or twice a friend who prefers pads has been in need and I wasn’t able to help out :(

  4. I used pads way back when I needed to. I didn’t like them much, but I could never bring myself to use a tampon, no idea why not.
    I have vivid and unfond memories of walking around feeling like a duck when the underpants I was wearing weren’t tight enough. (Mainly at high school before I worked stuff out. Wag, wag, wag the back end of the pad went as I walked, like a little tail.

  5. Wag, wag, wag the back end of the pad went as I walked, like a little tail.

    Gahhh, I’m feeling tickled in personal places just reading that.

  6. Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Pocket Nerd: Because what’s scarier than a vagina? A GIANT vagina! A GAPING giant vagina! DUN DUN DUNNNN.

    Well, there was this one scene in “American Gods” I’d rather not think about…

  7. Pocket Nerd: Because what’s scarier than a vagina? A GIANT vagina! A GAPING giant vagina! DUN DUN DUNNNN.

    Well, there was this one scene in “American Gods” I’d rather not think about…

    Goddammit I was eating my dinner.



  8. Admittedly, hubby still finds menstruation an uncomfortable concept, and doesn’t directly deal with it here. At least he’s nice about it, though, and gives me extra cuddles and comfort to make up for not taking on the discomfort himself. If I did need tampons (have used the cup for years, never going back) I’m sure he’d get them for me without complaint. I think he just can’t turn off the part of his brain that sees bleeding from the genitals as a terrifying battle injury.

    Our younger brother did pitch fits over tampons, though. Refused to take out the bathroom garbage if there were tampons in it. (And we always made sure to wrap them up nicely, to spare his delicate male brain.) Hubby is way better!

    RE: marinerachel

    So, I look at vaginas professionally. Found some frozen peas in one today. Delicious.

    …the fuck? How? WHY?


  9. I wish MRAs…no, actually, I wish all men could be made to have a vagina on a bad day, just the once. They’re so fucking flippant and ignorant about them.

    They’ll never have a tampon need changing when you can’t get somewhere to change it, so it slips slightly and gives you that feeling like when you’ve swallowed half a strand of spaghetti and it is making you gag, except much worse and in your vagina.

    My periods started when I was 10 and I was too embarrassed (exclusively stuffy, imperious old male doctors at my GP) to get on the pill til I was 15. I remember coming down from my bedroom in the early hours, as a 10 year old child with my teddy bear, and curling up on the cool kitchen floor with tears and sweat pouring down my face from the pain.

    I got on depo at 16 because of issues with the pill, despite being needle phobic. It was a dream apart from spending 24 hours every 12 weeks with a dead leg, staving off a panic attack with variable success. Then I switched to a GP which would let non-mothers get the IUS and I got one just recently. The procedure was frightening, I loathed having my feet in stirrups, and it was excruciating. The intensity of the cramps over the first couple of days, I am absolutely positive it was as bad as labour pains. It literally (not misusing that word) felt like my womb was scrunched up into a tiny, tight ball, and the cramps – I say cramps, the continual cramp was so powerful I couldn’t get off the fucking toilet. For the first week all I could do was pop pills, have baths and cling miserably to hot water bottles. For the first month, I had several fits of cramping daily. It has now dropped down to once every 1-2 weeks I’ll have a crampy evening.

    I’d like to see a fucking “wizard’s sleeve” and “women on their periods amirite?!!” joke-cracking man deal with one single fucking instance of cramping, menstruating or related issues. Somehow I think it would become a bigger goddamn deal if they did.

  10. I rather like the idea of semen evolving into the MRA’s-dick-eating version of the Blob.

    I laughed so hard, it scared the cat. Oh, if only it would. What would we call it? The Dong-Eating King Kong?

  11. I’ve been fortunate that most men in my life were relatively understanding about periods. I do think that a fair number of men need to experience a full cycle once in their life. Not just the cramps and the bleeding. They need to experience the PMS headaches, boobs that feel like they’ve spent a week as a Rocky’s punching bag, back aches that start at the lower back and end at the knees, the fatigue, the bloating. Maybe then, these guys will let women deal with their own bodies and won’t think periods are sissy things. I’d rather break fingers once a month, than to deal with a period enhanced by fibroids.

  12. RE: Nova

    boobs that feel like they’ve spent a week as a Rocky’s punching bag

    OH GOD I FUCKING HATED THAT. Made my body dissonance go off the fucking CHARTS. My surgeon seemed to be really bemused that my biggest questions were if top surgery would make the pain go away, but no, seriously, that was one of the things I am most happy about post-op. My chest doesn’t hurt anymore! Ahahaha!

  13. And heaven save you if you try explaining to a guy who /isn’t/ understanding about stuff like mood swings. I remember when I was young and naive explaining to my first bf that I wasn’t angry at him, I’d snapped cos it was my period. Any time I was angry after that, no matter HOW justified, it was dismissed as ‘Oh, time of the month, huh ?’

  14. @historophilia When I was head teacher at a small English school, I stocked my desk with as many types of tampons and sanitary towels I could find! I wasn’t getting many periods at the time, but I had a lot of staff members who might have needed them and I wanted to be prepared for everyone. I always felt guilty if I couldn’t give someone their preferred product. I guess it comes from us being choosy about what we use ourselves! Nothing more annoying than a heavy period, cramps and something you aren’t comfy with in your knickers.

  15. I’m pretty lucky; my uterus is fairly forgiving.

    It also helped when hubby discovered he could kill all cramps by giving me a double orgasm. Admittedly, normally I am in no mood to try taking that on, but you know. It’s handy to have, and he’s nice to offer.

  16. I’m 98% sure my uterus is trying to kill me today. I’m not sure what I did to offend it…

  17. Is the whole ickiness that some people feel towards menstruation centred on the whole:
    – women shouldn’t be sexual beings
    – therefore anything associated with PIV sex is icky
    – therefore anything associated with vaginas is icky

    ??? It seems to be a very sex-specific form of animism.

    Condoms go on penises, which are genitals, men have no issues buying them. Toilet paper is used for wiping away elimination products, men use it too, men have no issues buying it. Menstrual blood is nothing like faeces, all these products are clean when purchased, what’s the issue?

  18. LBT: It’s a blessing and a curse for me. I like that they look fuller and that i make more money off them but… gah, if someone touches them, it feels like someone stabbing hot pokers through my chest. It happens frequently and it’s all I can to to not crumple to my knees and then bludgeon the offender with my shoes.

    The worst part for me is the extremely heavy bleeding and swelling of the wonderful fibroids I just found out about that put pressure on my back and cause sciatica. I never really got the typical moodswings but rather tired and slightly annoyed and disinterested in dealing with any bullshit.

    However, the paranoia about whether I’m walking around with a huge period stain… that’s hellish. I’d take my entire period off of work, if i could.

  19. Nova: ouch, I’m sorry. I have a good friend with fibroid issues too. I really hope you can find a good way to reduce the pain. My friend takes a lot of meds but so far, she doesn’t find them very useful. She mentioned ultrasound possibly being a way of reducing the symptoms.

  20. As I have a recent history of cancer and they’re quite large, I need to have them removed. However, I’ve been struggling lately and life has been unstable and quite expensive. Once things settle down, I’ll be able to replenish my savings and be able to take time off to deal with it.

    I was offered meds for it but… the last thing I really want to do is take Percocet and try to work. Recipe for disaster!

  21. Oh I really hope you can soon. I hate to think of anyone in pain, especially after already going through cancer. It really bothers me how financial problems get in the way of essential healthcare. There’s just something deeply wrong about that.

  22. I’ve mentioned this before, but Connie Willis wrote a short story a couple decades ago, “Even the Queen”, set in a near future after a safe, effective menstruation drug has become a commonplace thing. That is, a drug that eliminates the body’s need to menstruate. It’s a good read.

  23. I find it… interesting that, in popular culture, the premier signs that a woman/trans man has PMS/is menstruating is that zie’s angry/over-emotional, because when I talk to other people that menstruate, that is one of the least common side effects, way after “horrible horrible pain in [insert bodypart here]”–which, come to think about it, might explain why we’re kind of snappish.

    But it seems like the only side effect worth mentioning is the one that might make cis men’s lives harder, and it is blamed on “hormones”, which cis men don’t have*, and not on the likelihood of pain, which is an experience that everyone can empathize with.

    * Sarcasm intended.

  24. Phoenician in a time of Romans

    @Fibinachi: <i.Goddammit I was eating my dinner.

    So was she…

  25. RE: Nova

    gah, if someone touches them, it feels like someone stabbing hot pokers through my chest.

    I KNOW UGH. I had breast fibroids too; it felt like I was lugging bricks strapped to my chest. PAINFUL bricks. (And I did NOT want them even fuller, the vessel already had Barbie boobs.) And I tried fucking everything too; Vitamin E, lymphatic massage, hormonal birth control which only made it WORSE. The only thing that put even the slightest dent in it was going braless, which… well, 28D in fucking Texas summer, good luck with that. (And then my chest got so large that going braless exacerbated the body dissonance. Hahaha fuck you body.)

    I couldn’t even fucking bind properly either, because it hurt too much. Seriously, I was the happiest person ever to get that damn bilateral mastectomy. FUCK YOU MAMMARUS AND TITANIA. ROT IN HELL.

  26. Sanitary products should be free and I give them out free if someone needs them even though they are expensive for me as someone on disability payments. I always keep spare pads and tampons in my bag, I sometimes leave a still wrapped pad or tampon on top of the sanitary items bin so the next person to use it will be able to.

  27. My fibroids are uterine, so they just make my periods heavy and painful. My breast issues are most likely due to size. I’m 30G and they swell like crazy for about two weeks before my period. Given my job, they’re grabbed, squeezed, forcefully bounced etc., daily. I put up with it, but I hate it.

    If anyone ever needs confirmation that misogyny is firmly ingrained in society, spend a weekend as a stripper. Some of the stuff I see and hear is just astounding! While most customers pretend that I’m a real human being… some have abandoned that in favor of thinking they can do whatever they want and are genuinely surprised when we complain. It’s fucking disgusting.

  28. I have fibroids in my boobs, they mostly behave themselves.
    My main body problem’s not the reproductive bits, it’s the immune system, lungs and brain that act up.

  29. This is late, but I wanted to comment on the whole period thing. I’m fairly lucky in that I don’t suffer a lot of the symptoms mentioned. I do get really awful cramps the first day or two, though (‘awful’ includes having to miss work or leave early, vomiting, blacking out).

    My husband has a sister, so he’s pretty good about the whole thing.

    My first boyfriend was different. He said something offensive and when I called him on it, he put on a sympathy face and asked if I was on my period. This was the first time I’d encountered the “angry woman/girl = on period” crap, so I thought it was totally
    random. I wasn’t and asked why he thought so. He (a cis male) then tried to explain periods to me complete with “and your hormones change, so your moods can be unstable and you won’t even know.” I told him I’d been having periods for two years and knew exactly how they affected me. I also told him that I could be mad at him because he did something wrong without needing to rely on hormones.

    My first boyfriend (a cis male) tried to explain periods to me. He

  30. Sorry about the last part repeating. I’m on my phone and thought that sentence disappeared.

  31. Adam McPhee made a single comment. Not two comments, one comment. Yet Futrelle writes that a single comment somehow rises to the level of “harassment”.

    To which I say:

    “Keep it up David. You certainly do know how to make yourself look foolish enough to the point that you don’t deserve to get taken seriously. Keep it up.”

  32. Oh Doug. This is really the hill you want to die on? Your “human rights movement” is built on the “right” to criticize someone on the basis of the size of their vagina? But he only said it once, so he’s just like MLK, Jr?

    Nope. McPhee is an immature, misogynistic asshat. And he is apparently your exalted leader. That tells me everything I need to know about your “rights” movement.

    And this is leaving aside the fact that the comment demonstrates McPhee’s ignorance of biology and anatomy. Again, kind of par for the course for you bigots.

  33. RE: Doug

    Really? How many times do I get to mock the size of YOUR genitals before it counts as harassment?

  34. She got bombarded by equally crass and misogynist tweets from MRAs who love to coordinate this kind of shit. So yeah, harassment.

  35. Protip for the MRAs: human rights movements don’t associate themselves with insulting their opponents’ genitals. Talking about genitals in this way doesn’t advance the objectives of the human rights movement.

  36. Good to know, as long as a whole bunch of us only leave one disgusting comment each, it doesn’t count as harassment!

  37. Doug, Adam made more than one comment; click on the date in his tweet to see his comment in context on twitter, and you can see that he doubled down on it when criticized.

    But even if he had made only one tweet, posting a hostile comment to a stranger that involves a reference to their genitalia is harassment. I’m pretty sure if you sent a note to someone at work along those lines, the HR department would be on your case, and rightly so. The fact that people consider this acceptable behavior on the internet is not a reason to excuse it; that attitude is part of the problem.

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