Men make mark with centre

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An organization called the Canadian Association for Equality has raised enough money to fund the first Canadian Centre for Men and Families in Toronto. The organization hopes to be up and running in the coming months to provide help, services and referrals to men in need.

This new men’s centre will be a positive force in society provided it doesn’t get co-opted by misogynistic “men’s rights” activists. Men have issues of their own and will benefit from an institution geared to their needs. Feminists should embrace this development as it will mean more dialogue and a progression towards gender equality.

Women still have a lower social position than men in Canadian society and there are parts of the world where women are second-class citizens lacking basic rights. For these reasons, women still deserve the majority of attention and resources when it comes to gender issues.

However, men have their own genuine concerns. They’re more likely to commit suicide and more likely to abuse alcohol.They deal with mental and physical health problems in different ways than women and are more reluctant to get professional help for both. Men are also often treated unfairly in the court system during divorce and custody battles.

At a more theoretical level, men are coping with stereotypical notions of masculinity at a time when expectations for male behaviour are changing at a faster pace than ever before.

This confluence of issues calls for a “safe space” to discuss them. Most importantly, a men’s centre could help foster healthy dialogue with feminists on topics like gender equality.

The risk that an extreme “men’s rights” or otherwise anti-woman faction could gain sway in a men’s centre is plausible and this possibility should be guarded against with vigilance. However, the simple existence of “men’s rights” advocates should not taint the project by default.

Men’s centres should be embraced by feminists as long as they are operated in good faith; they provide an opportunity to create dialogue between genders and offer support to men.

— Journal Editorial Board

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