Pick the right men’s issues and collaborate

I was troubled to learn that a new “men’s issues” group is being formed on campus. There are important men’s issues in our society deserving attention, but I fear the intentions behind these groups are more combative than collaborative.

The new club is affiliated with the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), the group behind a series of billboards that went up in Toronto last year with misleading statistics about domestic violence.

Domestic violence against men is one of the main issues the group at Ryerson will push forward, according to the founder. The fact that it’s affiliated with CAFE makes me worried that students won’t be getting the right facts.

Here’s a real men’s issue: Statistics Canada reports that 2,781 Canadian men took their own lives in 2011. That year, 947 women did the same. Similar numbers are consistently reported every year.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), a relatively equal proportion of men and women experience depression, but men are far less likely to seek help. Why is this so?

The CMHA attributes the disparity in suicide rates in part to societal concepts of masculinity. When it comes to mental health, the stigma is greater for men “largely due to society’s stereotypes about the male role, having to be strong and tending to repress their feelings and emotions,” psychiatrist and men’s health researcher Dr. Andrew Howlett told the Globe and Mail last year.

No one should feel emasculated for seeking help. If Ryerson’s new men’s issues group sets out to fairly and accurately tackle issues such as this one, I’d support it.

I get lost, though, when founder Kevin Arriola notes that they are “not a feminist organization.” Why not?

Feminism, by most definitions, includes challenging our society’s perception of gender roles and what it means to be “feminine” and “masculine.”

The way I see it, the question, “Why are so many men committing suicide?” is just as valid and relevant to feminism as, “Why are so many women sexually assaulted?”

Any feminist should care about both of the above issues, because addressing them benefits everyone. Doing so also challenges, both directly and indirectly, our ideas of masculinity and femininity.
A men’s issues society at Ryerson shouldn’t be stopped, but those involved should ensure they’re addressing issues that don’t campaign against one particular group.

Instead, they should be working collaboratively to bring the most relevant men’s issues to the table.

Read another editors’ opinion on this issue from Issue 4.

4 Comments

  1. The stats described by CAFE were not misleading. They *corrected* misleading statistics based on a sexism-driven narrative that excludes information inconvenient to its conspiracy theories.

    this group is working very collaboratively. However the sexism (not to mention racism and other prejudice) prevalent and encouraged in many feminist circles has proven impossible to wash out by the non-prejudiced. Some abide it because it may not be their style, but it suits their bias. Others, like Kevin, myself, and groups like CAFE choose not to abide hate, and start a fresh angle in important conversations.

  2. Wouldn’t this group still be considered feminism? Would this not be considered feminism growing and evolving into new areas? How could this be bad?

  3. > The way I see it, the question, “Why are so many men committing
    > suicide?” is just as valid and relevant to feminism as, “Why are so
    > many women sexually assaulted?”

    The problem is, feminism gives the same unthinking, dogmatic and useless answer to both questions.

  4. Ryerson Men’s Issues Awareness Society discusses any men’s issue that it can. Everybody is welcome, including feminists. Two feminists were at the first meeting and added much to the discussion. Non-feminists are also welcome. Discussion can work within and without of standard feminist theory. Diversity of ideas comes first.

    CAFE has no control over this group. It is entirely student run. Additionally, you have not provided any evidence that CAFEs billboards were inaccurate. You simply claimed they were.

    Domestic violence is just one of the many issues that were discussed in the first meeting. Male suicide rates were also discussed and will be a major focus, as well as bias in family courts, homelessness, mental and physical health, education, and many others.

    If you want to strawman this group that’s your prerogative, but if you intend to report accurately maybe you should attend a meeting and learn something before you judge from your bias.

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