The German term Fremdscham describes a type of proxy-embarrassment; it’s the feeling of shame you have on behalf of others, often those who don’t realize they should be embarrassed for themselves. I can’t think of a term that better applies to the scene that unfolded at the University of Ottawa two weeks ago.
Professor Janice Fiamengo had planned to speak on men’s issues and rape culture as part of a talk organized by the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE). The lecture, called “What’s Equality Got To Do With It? Men’s Issues and Feminism’s Double Standards,” was intended to dispel the notion of rape culture, according to Fiamengo, as well as discuss issues such as suicide by young men and custody rights after divorce. But some student activists decided Fiamengo’s lecture was not appropriate, so they took it upon themselves to shut it down.
The entire display is chronicled in a 50-minute YouTube video that shows protesters booing, yelling and blowing a vuvuzela throughout Fiamengo’s attempted address. The lecture organizer tried to reason with protesters, but it didn’t work. Campus security tried to intervene, with little success. Finally, the event moved to another room, but shortly after, the fire alarm went off.
According to the student newspaper the Fulcrum, a group that calls itself the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) was behind the protest.
“We feel that these ideas have no place on our campus and refuse to legitimize them by allowing them space to organize,” a representative for the RSM wrote in an email to the paper. “As was demonstrated, campus security will not protect our community from events that are harmful to men, women, and trans people in the community, so we decided to stand up for what we feel is right.”
Hold on — ideas have no place on campus? Surely, they can’t be serious.
Alas, the irony of unilaterally deciding “what is right” is apparently lost on this vocal group of freedom fighters. Indeed, they haul out the notion of “safe space,” which is commonly used as a defence for quieting speakers that the loudest few on campus don’t want to hear. And they take it upon themselves to “protect” the apparently feeble campus community from the perils of intellectually challenging ideas.
The same shoddy rationale was employed by protesters at Massachusetts’ Brandeis University, which was recently pressured into forgoing plans to award an honourary degree to women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ali’s personal history is a remarkable testament to resilience — she was genitally mutilated at age five and became a refugee to flee an arranged marriage, yet still rose to become a distinguished member of Parliament, public speaker and author. But her ongoing criticism of Islam, which she has called “imbued with violence,” was deemed “hateful” by a self-appointed group of safe-space-keepers at Brandeis University, and the administration shamefully caved to their demands and revoked their invitation. Rex Murphy summed up the miserable picture in his weekend column, asking, “Is this what Western thought and philosophy at the university has come to — setting up intellectual quarantines lest the immature and frightened be made uncomfortable or to feel unwelcome? Is this university or daycare?”
At the University of Ottawa, where protesters resorted to clapping, yelling and blowing a horn to drown out professor Fiamengo’s speech on rape culture and men’s issues, the answer is self-evident. The case could be made that Fiamengo’s rejection of rape culture, for example, is unhelpful to efforts to help victims of campus violence come forward, but just because protesters attempt to drown out her ideas doesn’t mean they’re not still there. They are — and they have been left unchallenged — because the Revolutionary Student Movement would rather bang on their desks in a futile, overgrown temper tantrum than actually refute her argument with contrary views.
Much ink has been spilled on the notion that contemporary young girls are reluctant to call themselves feminists, a term that they associate with angry, bra-less man-haters of their mother’s or grandmother’s generation. The foolish antics by protesters at the University of Ottawa don’t help to dispel that characterization. If the new women’s movement is about shutting down critical discussion about both men and women, it can count out a whole slew of supporters right now. The protesters at the University of Ottawa buried their message in their behaviour, which was juvenile, counterproductive and thoroughly embarrassing. And if they’re not embarrassed, I am on their behalf.
Shut the fuck up, oh my fucking god
If I wasn’t in the middle of essay writing I would explain all the dumb bullshit things about this but I don’t have the fucking time to make like a 24-point bulleted list right now
In other words, "I’m a stupid asshole that can’t come up with anything good to say so I’ll act like I’m busy writing an essay."
Y’know, intelligent people would just bookmark this and come back to it later prepared with an educated argument, but not you. I wonder, are you doing an essay for your women’s studies course? Lol
- So Janice Fiamengo intends to “dispel the notion of rape culture”, something that has essentially been repeatedly proven to exist by multiple sociologists and researchers and has withstood numerous other attempts at being dispelled? I wish her the best of luck on her wild goose chase.
- Suicide by young men and custody rights after divorce are real issues that affect men today, and are things that feminism is working to correct, as anybody with an actual passing familiarity with feminism knows.
- I agree with the statements made by the revolutionary students movement 100 percent - implying that rape culture is some sort of nonexistent fantasy is an actively harmful idea that shouldn’t be given equal time on university campuses.
- I’m just going to paraphrase an earlier post of mine: Universities should be a place of open discussion, but only for things that are actually open to discussion. Universities are not the place for the entertaining of fantasies like this one. We don’t need to give equal time to non-debate topics.
- Are you seriously calling a feminist student organization “the loudest few”? Here’s a hint: They only seem loud because they sound different from the endless deafening dull roar of male bullshit everywhere else in the world.
- I had never heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali before this post, but everything written up there checks out. Obviously the things she’s gone through in her own life (which I will not argue as to them being awful) have contributed to the formation of her opinion on the subject of Islam, but I don’t think that calling an entire religion “imbued with violence” because of the acts of a few of its members is constructive to debate, and it can easily be interpreted as hate speech against the actual Muslim students who I’m sure attend Brandeis University.
- Fiamengo’s ideas haven’t been left unchallenged. As I already said, they’ve been refuted multiple times in the past. The speech was protested because it’s a reiteration of the same old patriarchal bullshit that’s already been disproved and not something we need to be spending more goddamn time on.
- "A futile, overgrown temper tantrum". Because that’s not in any way a diversionary tactic or an attempt to demean these women’s opinion by comparing them to children or anything. Classy.
- And why is “angry bra-less man-haters” such a bad thing to be? Every woman should have the right to be whatever she wants. That’s the main tenet of feminism.
- tl;dr: You claim that “the new women’s movement is about shutting down critical discussion”, and that’s not true. It’s about shutting down obvious attempts at oppression or ideas that benefit oppression. Sometimes supporters of “the new women’s movement” (I’ll keep using that term, I guess) take it too far, but that’s just what humans do sometimes, and it doesn’t mean that the entire movement is somehow negative or irredeemable.
So yeah, hopefully that gives you something to think about. I would have posted this originally, but I was proofreading a friend’s senior English thesis. (I don’t start my women’s studies classes until the semester after next, but thanks for asking.)
1. RAINN, the national experts on this subject, who advocate for rape abuse victims, who do statistics and studies on this, who are literally the best people to comment on this, recently said that Rape Culture in the west does not exist.
2. Provide proof please, because we have never seen a rally for male victims of suicide and custody. Because I was a feminist and I know of many feminist lobbying groups have pushed to keep the “tender years doctrine” as the core of custody cases. In fact, we’ve seen feminists silence men’s rights discussions on that very issue, via pulling fire alarms to disrupt lectures.
3. Actually, RAINN said flat out that the feminist viewpoints on rape actually HURT rape victims more. Rape culture doesn’t exist and feminist mentalities like rape culture and “don’t be that guy” campaigns actually do more damage.
4. Fuck you and fuck your mentality here. If you actually looked at statistics, if you actually looked at real data, you’d realize that men are the ones who lack civil rights, liberties and equal treatment compared to women. Do you still believe in the wage gap? Then that proves you don’t actually do research because it was proven false on an individual basis.
5. No, what happened was she had an opinion and people went to silence it. You try and write it off as ‘patriarchal’, which is the biggest fucking load of bullshit that’s been shoved down our throats since Third Wave began. Here you are, spewing buzzwords like Patriarchy and Rape Culture, just like every other femininst, without even doing the research that shows that in this modern era, women are the advantaged ones, the protected ones, and the ones who get special treatment in their favor.
6. It was a temper tantrum. They fucking acted like idiots, they acted like spoiled brats instead of engaging somebody in debate. They pulled a fire alarm, which by the way, is a fucking crime and you advocate for that. You advocate for childish mob mentality. It was a tantrum.
7. a. No, being man hating is wrong. Just like woman hating is wrong. You can’t be this fucking dense. Bigotry, hatred, in any form is WRONG, and to hate men based purely on their sex is sexism.
7. b. And here I thought people were saying feminism was about equality. But hey, neither is right. Feminism is about power, in particular amassing power for itself by taking a metaphorical bat to women’s knees, condescending to them, instilling fear and a victim complex in them, and then drawing them in like a cult.
8. No, it is shutting down the exchange of ideas. You call it oppression because you want to justify shutting it down. It is breaking the law to do so. So that is a third buzzword you’ve thrown out there, the holy trinity of third wave feminism: Patriarchy, Oppression and Rape Culture.
Pointing out hipocricy and demanding that men be given rights that women have isn’t fucking oppression. It is asking for equality and you’ve been so brainwashed that you see it as evil. Nevermind that you’re pretty much just condescending to women, portraying them as weak and oppressed, when in reality, they have more rights than men. Actual, legal rights, like reproductive rights and preferencial treatments in custody, alimony and legal courts.
And before you even goddamn start, I’m a woman, I’m an ex-feminist, I’m a rape survivor and I’m a lesbian. I have literally everything to gain from supporting Third Wave feminism and I don’t. You want to know why? Because I saw how fucking demeaning, condescending, how goddamn awful feminism was for women. How it told me I’m a victim, how I’m weak without it, how men are evil and men are oppressors, and how everything is the patriarchy’s fault and NOT my own choices, despite my own belief that I have my own autonomy as a woman.
I think the above comment deserves a mic drop.