Cease fire

The debate between feminists and men’s issues groups has been extremely toxic these last two weeks.

The Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) ran an event last Thursday featuring speaker Janice Fiamengo, who argued that modern-day feminism is “totalitarian” and prevents men’s problems from being discussed or addressed.

The event was overshadowed, however, by the assault of a Queen’s student who was reportedly involved in opposition to the event.

The MIAS president appears to have good intentions. If the club keeps its promises and actually facilitates discussion on the health and well-being of men and boys, I’ll support them.

However, I resent the MIAS for hosting such a toxic event. Fiamengo offered only divisive language and ideological talking points and the event has spread fear among students.

Discourse surrounding the event has been hostile, and in some cases downright horrifying, preventing students on either side from speaking out. If you want evidence, look to the comments accusing women of faking injuries and lying about sexual assault on the Journal’s “Student assaulted” article, Fiamengo’s description of feminist strategies as “Stalinist”, audience heckling during Fiamengo’s talk or the email threats the assaulted student received before she was attacked.

It’s hard to engage in rational discussion when you know you’re going to be personally attacked, insulted and threatened by strangers.

Fear paralyzes us and encourages us to close ourselves off. We stop listening to each other and start to view our ideas as fortresses to be defended.

To truly listen to someone requires opening ourselves up. The fact that these men’s issues groups exist at all, and are so readily defended, indicates there are real anxieties underlying them.

However, we need to discuss their concerns in a non-combative manner. If both sides continue to coach their ideas using aggressive, condescending language, conversation will be futile.

Fiamengo said modern-day feminism and men’s rights groups can’t coexist. I disagree. Feminist groups already work on men’s issues, and there’s a tremendous amount of room for cooperation and mutual support.

I believe a men’s issues club could be a healthy and positive place for students to discuss challenges facing men.

But that will only happen if it disentangles itself from Fiamengo and her ilk — who see this as an ideological battle — and becomes a constructive, rather than destructive, influence on campus.

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