Men are not an oppressed group in society
I was barely six months old when Marc Lépine took issue with the fact that women were fighting inequality and killed 14 women in an “attack on feminism.”
Popularized as the “Montreal Massacre,” Dec. 6, 1989 marked the day that 28 individuals at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique engineering school were shot, 15 fatally.
I’ve not gone a day in my life without hearing about the importance of engineers in our society. My father has been working as an electrical engineer for 30 years now and his passion for it has always been admirable. But from a young age I always noted how few female engineers my father worked with. Sure, he had female co-workers occupying the human resources department and clerical jobs, but there were few female engineers. My dad won’t deny it — his work field is a boy’s club. It’s one of many.
In his suicide note, Lépine said that feminists had ruined his life. 22 years later, though no similar incidents have occurred, I am witnessing large groups of men who really do consider feminism the anti-Christ — and that terrifies me.
Recently around Laurier I’ve witnessed an effort made to start a “Men’s Rights” group on campus. The effort has been led by a non-student who twice hung posters around campus, once without permission from the dean of students and once with approval from the dean of sciences under false pretenses.
The posters paint a picture of a world where feminism, apparently no longer necessary, is a tyrannical force which victimizes men from all angles, from false rape claims to oh-so-discriminatory safe spaces on campus known as women’s centres (“But why are there no men’s centres?” they ask).
I’m not made of stone. I am not the type to raise a stink over Movember campaigns (because let’s face it, the importance of prostate exams has been under-emphasized for years) or to pretend that women are not unfairly favoured over men in custody battles (a result of enforcing stereotypical gender roles on both sides).
However, when I’m asked to pretend that men are an oppressed group in society, I cannot decide whether I should laugh or cry.
This attitude is not limited to our campus; sites such as link aggregation database Reddit contain so much anti-feminist sentiment that they even have active communities such as “r/mensrights.” These men are also occupying the fantasy world where feminism ruins lives on a daily basis.
The unfortunate thing is that there are some legitimate concerns raised by some men’s rights activists. Male circumcision and false rape claims are unfortunate occurrences in today’s society. The problem is that male circumcision and female circumcision are different issues, yet men’s rights activists insist on putting them on the same level. The same goes for the oft-raised issue of false rape claims. False rape claims are not non-existent, but also do not occur at the alarmingly high rate of legitimate sexual assaults. The ridiculous notion that half of rape claims are false has led people to immediately question a woman’s claim of sexual assault instead of offering assistance and protection.
The men’s rights movement is merely a knee-jerk because some men do not take kindly to the fact that for once, they’ve been left out of something: feminism. Never mind the idea that men can be feminists and allies as well; for some men acknowledging male privilege feels like an attack when really it’s the mere statement of a fact.
Feminism does not fight men. It fights patriarchy, which has systematically oppressed women since its inception. Men’s rights groups aren’t actually fighting anything, because there is no system that inherently oppresses men.
So how does this relate back to the Montreal Massacre? Well, 20 years ago, 14 women were killed because feminism “ruined” a young man’s life. The mere fact that women were studying among men and being given the same opportunities that he had been given was enough to send him into a murderous fury.
While no one at Wilfrid Laurier University is getting murdered, women’s right to a safe space and celebration of their gender is being resented by some men. These men are interested in forming yet another “boys club” out of resentment for the one thing we women have that is not male-dominated. How long will it be before another sick extremist fights out against equal rights? Worse off, will it be excused?