Statement re: Event/Rally Nov 16, 2012
Statement from University of Toronto Students' Union
November 22, 2012
On November 16, 2012 a group at the University of Toronto hosted an event on campus which would supposedly address issues that men and boys face in our society. Their keynote speaker was Dr. Warren Farrell, an American educator, author, and champion of the men’s rights movement. In Dr. Farrell’s books and speaking engagement, he argues that “rape statistics are exaggerated”, that rape is “much more complicated than the way feminists [have] portrayed it, as men oppressing women”, and that “before we began calling this date rape, we called it exciting”. Dr. Farrall has said that “men are coming to be thought of by feminists in very much the same way that Jews were thought of by early Nazis” and that portraying women as sex objects is oppressive to men because “every day in about half the advertisements, a man sees the constant reminder of the woman he was not worthy of”.
The announcement of Dr. Farrell’s appearance on campus caused great concern among students and student representative groups at UofT. Despite complaints to the University administration, and requests from students to maintain our campus as a safe space free from oppression and discrimination, Dr. Farrell was given a space and forum to spread his misogynistic, hateful theories at UofT.
Members of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Executive Committee joined other concerned students, student representatives, and human rights advocates in an information picket outside the event last Friday. The picket was met with aggression from those attending the event and eventually a large police presence. The UTSU, Local 98 of the Canadian Federation of Students, condemns in the strongest possible terms any event that trivializes violent acts like rape, and oppression against women or any other marginalized group of people. This includes aggressive and violent tactics from the police to shut down a peaceful protest.
Since the event, members of the UofT community have been harassed, slandered, and publicly shamed for speaking out against sexism on our campus. One student and community member has been profiled on anti-feminist/women website avoiceformen.com, and has been depicted as “the personification of Princess Cupcake”, “an utterly vile creature”, and “Hitler’s Barbie” among other things. Although this is typical aftermath of the allowance of hate speech in a public space, it is not acceptable. The UTSU stands united with this student and all others who face violence and harassment for working to protect basic human rights.
The UTSU is calling on members of the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto administration not to tolerate hate speech of any kind on our campus. We encourage the administration to use the Human Rights Code as a guideline in identifying events that may create an unsafe space for its students, staff and faculty.