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Category Archives: actual activism

Today is World Toilet Day

07-24-2013toiletday

I was going to write up something today about International Men’s Day, the me-too what-about-the-menz holiday that’s so meaningless that even Men’s Rights activists can barely remember to celebrate it. Do we really need a day to “celebrate [the] achievements and contributions” of men? Don’t we get quite a lot of that already? Do we need a day given over to “highlighting the discrimination against [men]” as if this is really a thing?

But then I discovered that today was also World Toilet Day, and realized it was probably more worthwhile to promote this event, as the lack of toilets and proper sanitation — a widespread problem in parts of the developing world, particularly in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — can have devastating public health consequences.

Some disturbing facts, from the UN, which I clipped from this CNN story:

  • 2.5 billion people — one in three people in the world — do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation
  • Diarrheal diseases are the second most common cause of death in young children in developing countries
  • They kill more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined

Learn more at the official website. Also, Al Jazeera has a useful infographic.

And just a note to the MRAs who have somehow concluded from this post that I am comparing men or men’s issues to toilets (!?), let me try to make my point very clear: I am contrasting a sharply focused activist campaign aimed at a very real problem — lack of toilets and proper sanitation in large parts of the developing world — with large consequences — disease and death, of adults and children alike — with a badly thought out International Men’s Day that seems largely driven by jealousy that “women get a day so why can’t we have one too.”

How halfassed is International Men’s Day? Here’s a screenshot of the International Men’s Day website’s “resources” page.

resources

Generally speaking, you would expect a “resources” page to list facts and figures and possibly link to relevant other groups. All you get at the International Men’s Day site are some posters made from stock photos.

What I found on the site’s “about” page was much more troubling. The site was put online by a group called the Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation, working with the founder of International Men’s Day, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh. The Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation, as I discovered with a bit of Googling, turns out to be a virulently homophobic and transphobic organization that is also behind a site called Gendermatters.com. A quasi-manifesto on the site titled 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters asserts, among other things, that:

Transsexuality signals a deceptively fierce disorder. Elective castration, mastectomy, hysterectomy, etc., are futile non-solutions. The cruel, permanent disfigurement of so-called gender reassignment is not the answer. Transsexuals need psychological and spiritual insight that frees them to celebrate the chromosomes they received at conception.

So, yeah, a halfassed men’s “day” that’s associated with transphobic assholes. Not exactly a winning combination.

Look, if you’re concerned about making a difference in the lives of men, pick the issue that matters most to you, and work on that. If you want to increase funding for prostate cancer research, work on that. If you want to raise money to help male victims of domestic violence, work on that. Actually do the hard work of activism. Don’t just have yourself a “day” and pretend that it means something.

EDIT:  Rewrote part of the first paragraph and added all the stuff after the Al Jazeera link to clarify the point of this post, because clearly some people have missed the point entirely.

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Turns out VICE made a video about that Men’s Rights rally in Toronto. GO WATCH IT.

This is not an embedded video, so don't click on it.

This is not an embedded video, so don’t click on it.

I don’t know how I missed it, but a couple of weeks back Vice posted a short video about that EARTH-SHATTERINGLY HISTORIC Men’s Rights rally in Toronto that captured the attention of the world a tiny fraction of a percentage of people in the world (including the people at it and readers of this blog) a little over a month ago.

Alas, WordPress won’t let me embed the video here, but you all need to go look at it. Not only does it capture pretty well what a dinky event it was, but it also contains a bunch of mini-interviews with some A Voice for Men folks that are rather revealing.

The most revealing one of the bunch starts about 2:40 into the video, when AVFM’s Suzanne McCarley explains that

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Facebook: Page advocating murder of feminist blogger “doesn’t violate our community standard on bullying and harassment.”

facebookwthumbflipped

Several months ago, you may recall, feminist activists got Facebook to agree to remove blatant sexist hate speech from its site — much to the chagrin of many Men’s Rights Activists, like Paul Elam of A Voice for Men, who declared, in a post filled with alarmist rhetoric, that “feminist ideologues are co-opting Facebook, and they will root out any and all opposition to their worldview.” AVFM’s John Hembling, meanwhile, denounced the feminist activists as “fascists.”

Ever since then, Men’s Rights activists have been playing a game of “gotcha” with Facebook, trying to prove that the hate-speech monitors there only care about misogynist hate speech, and don’t actually care about hate speech directed at men. Every few days, it seems, there is a new thread in the Men’s Rights subreddit purporting to document this alleged “double standard.”

Ten days ago, for example, a Men’s Rights Redditor called dizzy_j got nearly 400 upvotes for a post complaining that “I reported three anti-men Facebook pages for gender-based hate speech today. Only one was removed.”  Six days ago,  DerDietrich got 580 upvotes for submitting this supposed evidence of a double standard. Trouble is, you can’t actually prove a double standard with a handful of examples.

But I would like to suggest an alternate hypothesis, which also fits the anecdotal data provided thus far by the MRAs, and provide an additional piece of anecdotal evidence that supports my theory and undercuts theirs.

My hypothesis is that Facebook is shitty at recognizing and dealing with hate speech and harassment, no matter whom it’s aimed at.

My evidence for this? Well, yesterday bloggers at Skepchick noticed a Facebook page targeting a specific feminist/skeptic blogger and asking if she “should … be murdered.” The anonymous poster — who identified her by name and posted pictures of her on the page — coyly avoided a literal call for murder, writing instead:

We should not ever break the law. Rather, we should advocate , through lawful land constitutional processes, to have the law changed so that it is legal to kill [name redacted by DF]. Alternatively, we should, where legal, request that [name redacted by DF] kill herself. Relevant laws should be changed so that suicide, and advocating suicide, is legal.

The Skepchick bloggers reported the page to Facebook for its obvious violations of the site’s harassment policies.

And they received this reply from Facebook (I’ve covered up the blogger’s name):

facebookharassnoteREdact

I think it’s fair to say that if Facebook can’t recognize a page calling for the literal murder of someone as harassment there is something very wrong with its system for dealing with harassment and hate speech.

The page has since been taken down, though it’s not clear if it was removed by Facebook or by the original anonymous Facebooker.

Get your act together, Facebook.

Deprived of new women to hate in Toronto, A Voice for Menners resort to rape jokes, gay bashing

Nick Reading and Dean Esmay in the lion's den

Nick Reading and Dean Esmay amongst the counterprotesters

Pity the poor MRAs who travelled hundreds — if not thousands — of miles to AVFM’s big weekend in Toronto hoping for a confrontation with the evil feminazis that never happened. They wanted footage of angry women they could watch again and again on YouTube. They wanted new names and faces to put up on Register-Her. In short, they wanted new women to hate.

But alas, the feminists, for the most part, stayed home. And the ones who showed up were mostly dudes, from the LBGT activist group BashBack.  Making things even worse, they didn’t block any doors or try to crash AVFM’s rally. What they did, mostly, was chant things the MRAs didn’t like.

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Confused losers at A Voice for Men congratulate themselves on their COLOSSAL SUCCESS in Toronto

Derek Zoolander: Also a little delusional sometimes

Derek Zoolander: Also a little delusional sometimes

So over on A Voice for Men, the regulars are all congratulating one another for their grand victory in Toronto. In AVFM’s official post on Saturday’s tiny “rally,” incongruously titled “Historic MHRA rally in Toronto huge success,” Elam — who in photographs of the events looked rather befuddled by it all — declared that the day had been magical for him:

“This was one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life,” said Elam. “Meeting all of these people and talking to a crowd that was five times bigger than the opposition was a remarkable event.”

Given that most of the opposition made a clear decision to ignore the AVFM/CAFE rally and lecture — much to the obvious disappointment of many MRAs who were there in Toronto or watching on the sidelines on the Internet — this was not much of an accomplishment.

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Speaker at Men’s Rights RALLY OF THE CENTURY in Toronto calls on MRAs to take up arms against “communism”

mrarallyPN

Dean Esmay rallies the troops in Toronto

So, it finally happened. The men’s rights lecture and rally in Toronto that A Voice for Men have been breathlessly promoting for weeks — in no less than 17 separate posts — have both come to pass. Men’s Rights celebrities flew in from across the continent to attend the exciting events. Paul Elam was there! So was Karen Straughan! Even Dan Perrins made an appearance! (Oh, wait, I think he lives around there.)

In a post-rally post, AVFM’s Robert O’Hara declared the “Historic MHRA rally in Toronto” to have been a “huge success.”

Well, you can be the judge of that. Go here to watch some actual footage of the event. (Sorry, I can’t get it to embed here.) So far I’ve only watched the final 8-minute video at the top of the page, but it’s pretty revealing in and of itself. The event organizers almost outnumber the sparse crowd. And one of the speakers calls for MRAs to take up arms against their “communist” opponents. No, really, just watch.

In case the video gets pulled, or censored, I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing his remarks: :

There’s an organization out there called communism, and the communist manifesto says that the first thing they have to do is take over power. And they’ll never get elected. And they know that they’ll never get elected. So what they do is they say “we have to take power by violent methods,” right, so if you want to crack back against these people, I hate to say it, but you’ve gotta be prepared to pick up a gun and put down the books.

Emphasis mine.

Someone in the audience responds to this with a hearty “yep!” There’s a smattering of applause, mixed with boos. AVFM’s Dean Esmay hurridly ushers the speaker away from the microphone.

The speaker who follows Esmay — I didn’t catch his name — describes the counterprotesters (who held their own rally nearby) as being of “the hammer and sickle” and denigrates them as “queers.”

This isn’t so much history being made as history repeating itself. I suspect the rhetoric was similar at a lot of White Citizen Council rallies in the sixties.

Oh, and the HISTORIC LECTURE that so many MRAs were hoping and dreaming that feminists would disrupt? Feminists ignored it. Apparently, according to one MRA on Reddit who claimed to have been there, a little more than a hundred people showed up.

Congratulations, A Voice for Men, on your FLAWLESS VICTORY!

I’ll watch as much of the rest of the rally as I can force myself to sit through, and add anything else worth adding.

EDITED TO ADD: I watched the video that covered the rest of the rally. It was pretty uneventful: a low energy, sparsely attended rally with a bunch of half-assed speeches. Apparently no one at A Voice for Men or CAFE, the co-host of the rally, bothered to prepare anything to say — perhaps because they were all expecting some sort of feminist riot? The “pick up a gun” speaker wasn’t one of the scheduled speakers, just someone they gave the microphone to when he raised his hand after the scheduled speakers were done.

One moment that did stand out: a trans man — apparently a member of CAFE — briefly took the mic, taking offense at the chants from the counterprotestors calling MRA’s “anti-gay.” I would suggest he take a look at AVFM’s not-so-proud history of homophobia and transphobia.

EDITED TO ADD AGAIN: Here’s a picture of the event from Civilian Media. You can almost taste the excitement! From left, Nick Reading of Men’s Rights Edmonton, Dean Esmay of AVFM, the legendary Paul Elam (looking a little bewildered), and two other dudes. Paul evidently HEARTS Fucking Their Shit Up. Oh, Paul, we HEART U!

kXDAMZW

Jane Austen and the Rape-Threatening Men

The face that launched a thousand threatening tweets.

The face that launched a thousand threatening tweets.

NOTE: Today is Day Two of the Man Boobz Pledge Drive. If you haven’t already, please consider clicking the little button below and sending some bucks my way.

Thanks! (And thanks again to all who’ve already donated.) Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

So what sorts of things make some men so furious that they feel the need to send women they’ve never met literal death and rape threats on the internet? It doesn’t take much, apparently. A woman suggesting that it’s not such a good idea to hit on women in elevators at 4 AM. A woman making  videos suggesting that there’s sexism in video games. A woman captured on video telling some men to shut the fuck up. A woman complaining about sexist jokes at a tech conference.

Add to this: a woman campaigning successfully to have Jane Austen’s face put on the Bank of England’s ten pound notes.

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Don’t Be That Rape Apologist: Arthur Koestler, Judgy Bitch, and why MRAs hate rape awareness campaigns

Arthur Koestler: Brilliant writer, serial rapist?

Arthur Koestler: Brilliant writer, serial rapist?

Today I’m going to talk about Janet Bloomfield — AKA JudgyBitch — and her bizarre attack on the original Don’t Be That Guy anti-rape posters in Edmonton. But I’m going to take a bit of a detour first, so bear with me.

I recently picked up a copy of Arthur Koestler’s The Case of the Midwife Toad, a nonfiction account of a scientific feud that provided me with some diverting travel reading and put me in the mood to read more of Koestler’s nonfiction.

But doing some rudimentary Googling I made a rather horrifying discovery about Koestler, whom I’d admired since reading his bracing account of breaking with Communism in the classic The God That Failed anthology: according to a recent biographer, Koestler was a serial rapist and abuser of women.

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John the Other: Feminists who oppose rape memes on Facebook are violence-promoting fascists, and you are too! Probably.

Typical feminazis! Oh, wait.

Typical feminazis! Oh, wait.

The MRA hissy fit over Facebook continues. Over on A Voice for (Human) Men, our old friend John “The Other” Hembling offers up his take on the whole controversy, which has roused the usually torpid MRAs to “activism,” and somehow manages to be even more overheated and incoherent than even Paul Elam before him — and at times nearly as ponderous as the legendarily ponderous Fidelbogen as well.

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Man-O-Philosopher Fidelbogen: Feminists want to ban Facebook rape memes because “feminists do not allow the right to exist of people who are not feminist.”

Feminist grinding men into dirt on the Internet.

Feminist grinding men into dirt on the Internet.

While we’re talking about this whole Facebook thing (see here and here if you don’t know what I’m referring to), I figured some of you might be wondering: What does the eminent Man-O-Philosopher and self-described “Counter-Feminist Agent of Change” Fidelbogen think of all this?

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