The Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is back in action on the University of Toronto’s campus through its campus Men’s Rights Awareness group. CAFE, as I have previously outlined, is an umbrella group for a variety of MRA sub-groups, many targeting university students, that claim to be about “fairness” and “equality” while promulgating a variety of falsehoods and inaccuracies that seek to both undermine feminism and also to perpetuate their reactionary ideological myth that men also face systemic injustice and discrimination as men. They describe this as “misandry”, which they posit as a counterpoint to misogyny.
However, CAFE, unlike most of its American counterparts, is always sure to put on a face of openness and tolerance to mask their agenda.
Back in November CAFE hosted an event at which Warren Farrell, a guru of the MRA, spoke. This was protested by student activists, a protest at which the activists attempted to block access to the event, which led to some arrests. It also led to a subsequent campaign of vicious and obscene intimidation specifically targeting female anti-MRA U of T student activists by the US based misogynist hate site, A Voice for Men (AVfM). Information about this campaign was posted on the CAFE website, despite their outward claims of not being associated with AVfM, and details of the protest, as well as the subsequent actions by AVfM, can be found in an article about this I wrote for rabble at the time.
Now CAFE’s U of T branch is hosting another speaker; a speaker whose rejection of the social progress that society has made to redress centuries of injustice and discrimination goes well beyond her attacks on feminism.
Janice Fiamengo, an English Professor at the University of Ottawa, was proudly announced by CAFE to be the latest addition to their Advisory Committee on January 5th. Not long afterwards CAFE (1) announced that she would be speaking at their next on campus event, to be held Thursday, March 7th, What’s Wrong with Women’s Studies? Academic Censorship, Feminism and Men.
CAFE describes the event in this way:
Dr. Janice Fiamengo, U of Ottawa English Professor, discusses the problems of academic feminism at Canadian universities: dubious scholarship, indoctrination, dogmatic teaching approaches, limitations on free speech, effects of “equity hiring,” and the consequences for men in the humanities.
According to CAFE:
The University of Toronto has kindly offered us complimentary use of one of their beautiful theatre venues, for reasons related to the law-breaking protest that occurred at our last event. CAFE offers its appreciation to the University for its strong commitment to free speech on campus.
In a recent Metro News article (2) we find Fiamengo:
In her upcoming talk, Fiamengo will say that feminism has changed from the pursuit of equality to the pursuit of women’s power.
“It became about women’s power in certain areas and it came to represent men in very negative ways, as oppressive, as dominating, as violent, as discriminatory, as exclusionary,” she said. “It became about women’s victimization and their moral superiority as victims.”
Fiamengo believes that feminism, through the influence of women’s studies courses, has alienated young men in humanities courses.
“If I were a young man going through university, I couldn’t bear to sit through course after course drumming home that I am part of one half of the human race that is violent, responsible for the ills of the whole society,” she said. “In English, there are fewer and fewer young men and I can certainly see why.”
Fiamengo and the self-described “moderate and inclusive” CAFE are seeking to redress a new injustice.
Interestingly and tellingly, the same article includes an interview with a U of T activist who has clearly, and understandably, been intimidated by the actions of the Men’s Rights Movement after the November protest:
Heather, a feminist and social justice advocate, says at least one of those young women has been exposed to online bullying and harassment. For that reason, she doesn’t want to see the Janice Fiamengo talk go forward. However, she doesn’t know if she will take place in any kind of protest because she fears the backlash.
Heather, who asked her last name be withheld because she doesn’t want to become a target for harassment, said she doesn’t think a talk criticizing women’s studies belongs at the University of Toronto.
Heather may be right. In fact, the gutless Texan thug, Paul Elam has this to say, about the upcoming event:
University of Toronto Student Union, it is time for you to just shut up, get out of the way and let other people share ideas whether you like them or not.
Of course, it is up to you. You live in a free country as long as people like you are not running it. But whatever you choose to do, you might want to consider what happened the last time you had a bright idea.
And last November, we were not even prepared for anything to happen.
You can bet we are now.
Subtlety is not his strong suit. Given that “we” cannot possibly include him, as he is in Texas, one can only assume he is talking tough for his brothers in Canada. Namely, CAFE and the U of T Men’s Right’s Group. Given that they did not disavow his previous campaign of intimidation, they are unlikely to disavow this one.
I wonder if the U of T administration sees this as just more “free speech”?
But it would seem, returning to Fiamengo, that anti-feminism is not her first attempt to strike at the politics of modernity and inclusion, and it would seem that there are other reasons that many might doubt the legitimacy of a campus club that, while claiming to be a moderate and inclusive voice, would have her as a speaker and advisor.
CAFE’s newest front person is an outright reactionary and Islamophobe who is rising through the ranks of the extreme right on-line community by writing for hard right American websites and espousing obviously extremist views.
In fact, in the most recent article she posted, on February 25, Fiamengo (who is, one might add, notably obsessed with, and largely only published in, the United States, with its Fox News, talk radio ultra-right subculture) led in with:
Proclaiming himself a conciliator and a moderate with a vision of Americans “stand[ing] with each other” and “paying their fair share,” President Barack Obama is in fact one of the most partisan presidents ever to occupy the White House. Fine-sounding words notwithstanding, he is a leftist ideologue and no-holds-barred political fighter whose practice has consistently been to demonize the American equivalents of the hated kulaks (farmers) and petit-bourgeoisie (small business owners) persecuted in the Soviet Union. Obama’s enemies include those “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as well as the presumably benighted bigots who fail to realize that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” With his anti-American, neo-Marxist outlook shaped by mentors and heroes such as Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, and Jeremiah Wright, Obama is naturally inclined to be suspicious of freedom and to feel sympathy for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is, to say the least, a fascinating way to characterize the President of the United States. A President who has, in fact, been astonishingly aggressive, imperialistic and violent in his on-going extra-judicial war murdering people in the Middle East (including hundreds of innocent bystanders) without any pretense of a trial or due process. To say that this would be the characterization that would be made by an extreme-right zealot would be obvious.
Fiamengo posted this, as she has many other anti-Islamic articles, on David Horowitz’s notoriously bigoted frontpagemag.com, a website that promotes Horowitz’s outright racist musings like those found in his joint diatribe, Black Skin Privilege, which is promoted as showing that “in fact the most insidious bias in our culture today is black skin privilege.”
It would seem that not only have women and feminists unjustly taken power, but so have blacks and other groups.
Fiamengo is not at all shy about this, attacking Islamics directly and vociferously. She wrote an article on Horowitz’s racist site in praise of Gavin Boby, an English bigot who crusaded against mosques in British neighbourhoods, sadly often successfully. She writes glowingly:
Only in a nation hobbled by political correctness of the most mind-boggling sort could a speaker proposing nothing more shocking than residents’ right to defend their neighborhoods be so vociferously denounced. The self-righteous outcries at Boby’s “fearmongering” came not only from the predictable sources—in this case the Canadian arm of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), fawningly reported on by the press despite its close ties to terrorist organizations—but also from self-proclaimed free-thinkers and mainstream journalists. When everyone involved declares their commitment to free speech while seeking to suppress, distort, and censor Boby’s message, one is left staggered by the House of Mirrors confusion passing for informed debate in this country.
Of course, she is writing of the “right” of residents to “defend their neighborhoods” from mosques. Places of worship. In an article decrying the supposed lack of “free speech” she praises a bigot and others who would seek to deny freedom of speech to Islamics by denying them the very ability to build houses of worship.
She then, as she is aiming at an American audience, goes on to condemn the “notoriously left-wing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation” for not taking up Boby’s cause.
But Fiamengo is not content with Islamics. She also “outs”, in the extreme right American Libertarian site, PJ Media, the supposed preference given to Canada’s Native People and other peoples in a stunningly offensive diatribe in which she belittles fellow academics who come from backgrounds that she sees as having been “favoured”.
In one of her multiple attacks on the very students she teaches, who she herself holds in total contempt, she states:
Indeed, some students become so immersed in Leftist ideology — a kind of secret society whose code language they have learned in fear and trembling and now exercise with pride — that they believe it the only possible view of the world and have never seriously considered alternatives except as the deplorable prejudices of the hateful unwashed. Their conviction of rightness has revealed itself in a multitude of anti-intellectual and repressive behavior on university campuses across the country.
One could go on and on. There are many more examples of her work that are readily available online.
I have contended, as have others, that the so-called Men’s Rights Movement is little more than a wing of a broader North American reactionary movement that uses false and grotesque arguments of reverse sexism (“misandry”) and reverse racism to oppose efforts by historically oppressed communities to redress this oppression. They do so by claiming to be “radical” and fighting for “justice” and “freedom of speech” when in fact they are nothing but a continuation of the same old racist and sexist counter-movements that have sought to keep things the way they are from the begginning of all the movements for social justice of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
These movements are interconnected. They all share the essential false analysis and they are all equally lying when they claim that all they want is “fairness”. They are all explicitly either racist, sexist or retrograde. Often they are all of these.
Crossover backlash reactionary Fiamengo simply proves this.
(1) As an interesting side note, it is well worth checking out the demented, juvenile and misogynist ranting and “commentary” on the Facebook wall for the event.
(2) Humorously and pathetically Paul Elam of AVfM requested that his followers comment collectively on the Metro article, which they did. The comments on the article require no commentary.