After a two-year lull in men’s rights organizing on campus, the Men’s Issues Awareness Society is set to proposition the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) for official club status — and the funding, room access and other perks that come with it.
Men’s issues, men’s rights, “meninism” — the movement goes by many names — has gotten pretty bad press, with Vice and Jezebel criticizing its frequent anti-feminist bent and all-too-common forays into outright misogyny. The Southern Poverty Law Centre recently called A Voice for Men, one of the most prominent men’s rights websites, a full-on hate group.
RSU rules bar campus groups from actions that clash with its policies, and many of those policies embrace feminism.
Obviously, the RSU can’t give official recognition to anyone who preaches outright misogyny or propagates hate speech. But there’s a danger lurking here: if feminism becomes a litmus test for club status, the RSU risks playing right into the men’s rights narrative.
The more unsavoury tendencies of the men’s rights movement thrive on a persecution complex: a deep-seated paranoia that feminists have it out for men, suppress dissent and dominate campuses everywhere.
Kevin Arriola, the founder of Ryerson’s fledgling men’s group, seems to want to play it safe.
He’s (mostly) avoided controversial topics and says he wants to discuss high incarceration and suicide rates, and the problems men face in the education system.
We should remain skeptical about his motives, especially since he’s also broaching the much more contentious issue of domestic violence. But some of these are actual issues.
If the RSU rejects a group that’s called itself “neither feminist nor anti-feminist” or campus activists try to shut down its events, they might really be giving a propaganda weapon to the more dangerous people that, I’m hoping, Arriola is not one of.