When a friend first told me about “A Voice for Men” (avoiceformen.com), it was with anger at the rampant sexism and misunderstanding of feminism going on there. I thought I would take a look for myself, because I thought, surely it’s not that bad.
Men and boys are also victims of a patriarchal culture. They are expected to be tough and never show love. They are pressured by gender norms into depicting a hyper-masculine persona they may not believe in, and they fear the stigma of pursuing “feminine” careers like nursing or decorating. I hoped I would come to a website that was created for men to voice their outrage at the patriarchy shaping and controlling their social expectations, the same as it does to women. After all, it is a long established patriarchal culture that has created these struggles. Surely, a website that states its goal as “compassion for men and boys” would understand that.
Well, apparently not. I felt disgust and horror after perusing a couple articles and reading even more headers. The writers on the site, both male and female, are essentially blaming feminist movements for the “oppression” of men in society, entirely missing the point that feminism works to fight against the actual causes of gender inequality, which are patriarchy and misogyny. They also do a great job of lumping in all feminists with their perceived brand of feminism, the brand that apparently wishes to destroy men.
This stereotyping is unacceptable in other discussions, like those of race and religion, so it should also be unacceptable in the branding of ideology. Notice how I haven’t lumped in the entire male gender, or even men who wish to be appropriately represented in society with the men running and writing for this website.
At any rate, I was content to put this soapbox to rest. Some people can’t be reached. Some people are so set in their ideology that you deserve to get your hand bitten if you feed the trolls. I believe these men are entitled to their opinions, as misguided as I believe they are. I wasn’t going to fight with that.
But this afternoon, I noticed something in the classroom building that turned that passivity into rage like gasoline on a fire. On Feb. 7, the Women Centre and Sofia House, two organizations that help women leave abusive situations, are sponsoring a stand-up comedy event at The Owl to support survivors of domestic abuse. I recently left a very emotionally abusive relationship, and find myself in need of a positive support group to help me deal with this and as such, this comedy night seemed like a great idea. But pasted directly on the poster is a hand-written sticker that reads “Avoiceformen.com Take the red pill”.
I was extremely offended. To advertise a website that actively supports the oppression of women, and to imply that in the “real world”, as The Matrix reference implies, there is no domestic violence or that domestic violence is caused by the abused women themselves, is disgusting and hurt me on both a personal and an intellectual level. Dear “Voice for Men,” having both seen and experienced domestic violence, I can assure, the red pill doesn’t taste how you think it does.
What “A Voice for Men” wishes to promote (though I haven’t stumbled into anything that supports their cause very successfully) is respect for men in society. That’s fine. Here, let me teach you how to do that. Firstly, respect others. Secondly, think before you blame. Thirdly, have empathy.
The gentleman (or gentlewoman) who placed this sticker on the poster didn’t do any of these things, and thus, failed at earning my respect. In fact, they have made me angrier with the kinds of misogynists whom I am trying to understand, and have caused me to lose any respect I could have had. If they wish for their voice to be heard, they must be willing to hear the voices of others. By literally pasting over the voice of women who have faced domestic abuse, they are saying that they don’t believe the voices or views of those women matter. Why should your voice matter to us if you disregard us so easily?
But regardless of my anger, I believe this person has some meaning behind their action. I want to know why you did it, whoever you are. I want to know what struggles you have to deal with every day as a man to need to seek the support so actively, that you are willing to quash the support systems of others to garner the attention.
What injustices are you suffering, that your sticker is more important than helping women who have been abused, like myself, to find support for our trauma? Teach me about “A Voice for Men,” and please, correct any of my misunderstandings. But not by hiding behind an anonymous sticker.
I am easy enough to contact. You can find me in the Carillon office on Monday and Tuesday evenings, I am Julie Dima on Facebook, and my Twitter handle is @JuliaVDima. You can also write a letter to the editor to reply to me, if you’re more comfortable with that. But please, if this is a view you find worth justifying, come and do it to the face of someone who has survived the sort of abuse I believe your website promotes.
Photo by Julia Dima