October 27, 2016

Men’s group contested

Students accuse men’s issues club of propagating rape culture

Assembly voted against de-ratifying the Men's Issues Awareness Society on Thursday.
Assembly voted against de-ratifying the Men's Issues Awareness Society on Thursday.

A motion to de-ratify the Queen’s Men’s Issues Awareness Society failed last night at AMS Assembly.

The motion, which was brought forward by Amal Nawal and Ashley Burnie, attempted to delegitimize the club on the grounds that it further perpetuated rape culture and female oppression on campus.

The club’s mandate, according to the AMS clubs website, is “to facilitate an inclusive and rational public conversation focused on certain areas of gender which are being understudied in contemporary culture, especially the status, health and well-being of boys and men.”

Mohammed Albaghdadi, the society’s president, said he started the club to raise awareness of men’s issues on campus, particularly related to false accusations of sexual assault.

“This is an academic institution where such discussion needs to take place,” Albaghdadi, ArtSci ’17, said.

“If it doesn’t take place at a university, where else does it take place?”

The club is set to host a men’s issues talk next week, which intends to discuss “feminism’s double standards,” according to the Facebook event. The event would be the first the society has hosted since it was ratified earlier this year.

The talk is set to feature Janice Fiamengo, a University of Ottawa English professor, who has contested the existence of rape culture at Canadian university campuses.

Fiamengo has actively criticized the “Don’t Be That Guy” poster campaign, which puts the responsibility on men not to rape, rather than women not to get raped.

According to Albaghdadi, Fiamengo is paying for her travel and accommodation expenses, and reached out to the society to speak at the event.

“We wanted to have a different discussion about some issues that men face which will be in this event,” he told the Journal.

In 2013, Fiamengo wrote in FrontPage Magazine that the campaign is “unsettling for its insistence that no matter what a woman does — no matter how careless and irresponsible — she is always innocent.”

Amal Nawal, who put forward the motion, said that Fiamengo actively promotes anti-feminist propaganda and denies the prevalence of rape culture.

“We claim that the falsifying of rape culture, which says that certain people are disproportionately attacked and are rape victims, and whether intentionally or not, is harmful,” Nawal, ArtSci ’14, told the Journal.

She also said that Fiamengo doesn’t have the appropriate educational background to promote a critique of rape culture.

“She is an English professor; she has no background in feminism,” she told the Journal. “She has no background in political studies and she has no background in women and gender studies.”

At Assembly, members argued that it would set a dangerous precedent to de-ratify a club on ideological grounds, while others argued that it would be premature to de-ratify the club based on future actions. Votes for or against the motion were cast in a secret ballot.

“If we see hate speech happen, then we can [de-ratify],” ASUS Vice-President Irfan Tahiri, ArtSci ’14, said at Assembly.

“I’m scared of the precedent this will set.”

The AMS has only de-ratified two clubs in its history, which were related to insurance-policy violations, according to Kristen Olver, AMS commissioner of internal affairs. According to Olver, ArtSci ’15, no club has been de-ratified in AMS history based on its ideology.

De-ratification would have disqualified the club from access to AMS resources, such as being eligible for club grants and spacing for events. A club can only be de-ratified through the AMS Judicial Affairs Committee, the AMS executive or AMS Assembly.

“Ratification does not mean we endorse the views of the club but they align with the policies of the AMS and are not in violation of our constitution,” Olver stated at Assembly.

Following the motion’s failure, co-organizer of the opposition group Ashley Burnie said she was disappointed in the AMS, accusing it of acting in accordance with “systemic oppression.”

“It’s built into the institution itself, so it’s not surprising,” she said. “It’s not outside of that oppression.”

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