If I ever wrote something that demanded qualification up front, this is it. I want to go on the record saying that I am a personal supporter of the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), have donated money to them, attended their events, put this website to use regularly disseminating their press releases and have been harshly critical of those who have actively sought to silence their voices.
I sometimes wonder if that support has been my wisest choice.
My feelings along this line are not because representatives from CAFE have publicly thrown AVFM under the bus, even though they have. Nor is it because of the massive elephant that was in the room during the Miles Groth lecture last year, when they thanked so many people for helping them host the event, except for AVFM (after we – meaning AVFM readers — helped them raise six times the security money needed for their presentation).
At this same event a CAFE representative proudly, publicly, and quite sneeringly scoffed at the idea of men’s “rights,” a shot I interpreted as a direct insult to those of us who actually believe men should have them.
However, my concerns about CAFE now are deeper and more ominous than media miscues, thoughtless remarks and intentional lapses in decorum.
Recently we witnessed CAFE being given the boot at the Toronto Pride Event, with the utterly false reasoning that they did not reflect the values of tolerance and inclusivity. This comes on the heels of a lecture they scheduled by Janice Fiamengo that was simply not allowed to happen, because CAFE officials failed to plan and stood by impotently as it happened. They had plenty of experience to prepare for that event, and appears they did not learn a lot from any of it.
Even this, still, is not my overarching concern about CAFE and where they are (or are not) heading.
As most here know, we recently concluded, with scarcely any incidents, a fabulously successful International Conference on Men’s Issues in Detroit; St. Clair Shores to be precise.
At the end of that conference we held a panel discussion on the future of activism. CAFE representatives were invited to participate, and indeed CAFE’s Adam McPhee agreed and took a seat with the rest of us, voicing his opinions.
The video of that talk will be released later today with any luck. During that talk, McPhee said something interesting, disturbing actually, given CAFE’s track record of how they choose to “do business.”
I am paraphrasing here what you will see later in the video. He made a statement that I found as offensive as I did false; something to the effect ‘we need to push out the radicals on both sides’ meaning feminists and MRAs. The video will provide his exact wording.
First let me say, if there is a working branch of the MHRM that are radicals, seeking radical goals which mirror those of radical feminism, McPhee failed to mention who they are. Personally, I would like to know because I am not aware of them.
Perhaps in a strange way, though, I am.
I can only give you my opinion on what he meant, but one I assert is based on a fair amount of experience dealing with and supporting this group, as well as watching how they handle dissent and conflict.
By MRA radicals, he means AVFM.
If you are a supporter of our work, he means you.
Here is the problem with being a politician instead of an activist. It makes you, well, a politician. And as most informed people in this culture know, politicians are shape-shifters, not so much adopting a set of values and abiding by them, but adopting a set of messages and shaping them as needed for public consumption. Sadly, I have seen CAFE do this from the start, and the most it has resulted in is an inability to do what they set out to do in any public venue. They have been shut down by the tiniest and weakest of bullies despite all their efforts to be seen as the nice guys of men’s advocacy.
It quite frankly embarrasses me for them.
When public acceptance, popularity and perceived palatability takes precedence over your values, then your values are not worth much. They are just one more flexible, disposable feature in your toolbox to shape public image. Values of convenience are a betrayal no more and no less than what we see with elected politicians who care nothing of real issues until those issues affect the polls.
Politicians stand for nothing but votes. They invariably find themselves in the public eye more resembling snakes than servants.
If CAFE wants to have a future that includes credibility, not to mention actually raising awareness of issues that affect men and boys, they will need to abandon the PR dog and pony show and start showing some resolve, some fucking spine, for what they claim to be doing. And they will have to take a brutally firm assessment of just how much failure is now being attached to their efforts.
There is a monstrously powerful machine of gender ideology that is now seeking to silence any good faith effort to bring relief to problems faced by men and boys. As CAFE should be able to see with crystal clarity at this point, public posturing in an attempt to portray themselves as the “good guys” vs the likes of AVFM and others who are putting their mouths where their values are, is a recipe for nothing but continued successful attacks from their opponents, and a loss of faith in those who would otherwise continue to support their efforts.
The last thing the Men’s Human Rights Movement needs is an activist version of the Good Men Project.
Addendum: Since the publishing of this article, Adam McPhee has penned a response. While I do not agree with some of what he has said, I am thankful to host a platform where dissent, even passionate disagreement, is allowed and fostered. I also want to say that I have spoken to several members of CAFE today and am happy to say that I see a bright future with both organizations moving forward with their missions enjoying mutual moral support: