Voice for Men sticker on the Spinifex office dor in Melbourne. Photo: Danielle Binks
Last week, exactly one year after Jill Meagher’s disappearance, when her killer was appealing against his sentence, a large sticker was pasted onto the entrance to my workplace. It read “False rape allegation: will your son be next?"
Underneath that phrase appeared the website for the organisation responsible for producing these stickers: A Voice for Men, which declares itself to be pro-male and anti-feminist. Why my workplace? Because it is Spinifex Press, a feminist publishing house.
A Voice for Men distributes many posters and stickers to further their cause. Want a Feminazi poster? They can provide you with the symbol for woman melded seamlessly with the swastika for your enjoyment and distribution. Plus if you display five posters in a public place, and provide photographic evidence of your activism, A Voice for Men will happily supply you with the added bonus of free stickers to continue your campaign of hatred against women. So they can end up on the doors of workplaces like mine. Their advice to crusaders reads like this:
“We suggest using judgment as to where you think what type of poster will be most effective in getting the response we want: greater traffic to our web sites, greater awareness of our issues, or greater awareness of who the enemy to the rights of men and boys are.”
Um, I wonder what my husband, father, nephews, cousins and brothers-in-law would think about me being deemed as “the enemy”.
The Australian News Director of A Voice for Men, according to their website, is Dr Greg Canning, academic and medical doctor, who declares a particular interest in the sphere of domestic violence. He calls it, however, the ‘abuse industry’.
In one of his articles on the group’s website, he talks of the “vested financial interests of the hordes of abuse workers, lawyers, feminist pseudo-academics, and other hangers on who derive financial sustenance from such morally contemptible activities and whose motive is to clearly grow their business. If this industry was results based and actually decreased domestic violence and conflict many would be unemployed, hence the perverse incentive to keep case loads high even if this means redefining domestic violence to include the most trivial infractions, and to “emphasise ‘reasonable’ fears regarding personal safety.”
That’s right, he argues that those working in domestic violence are trying to “grow their business.” It would be laughable if it weren’t so appalling.
Yet despite trying to minimise the extent and severity of violence against women, at the same time this organisation also tries to argue that men are subject to violence by women as much as women are subject to violence by men. Another laughable argument, given that violence towards men is also overwhelmingly at the hands of other men. The most recent statistics from the Department of Justice in Victoria showing that 80% of domestic violence victims are female and more than 90% of perpetrators are men. But this data, as well as the VicHealth data showing male intimate partner violence is found to be the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women aged 15 to 44 years, is dismissed by Canning as lies. Naturally.
Canning is also eager to point the finger at women for using the ‘v’ word, ‘victim.’ It brings to mind Julia Gillard’s conversation with Anne Summers on Monday night when she responded to claims she had ‘played the gender card.’
As Gillard said, “if she complains, she is playing the victim and playing gender wars, and if she doesn't complain, then she really is a victim. So, in your analysis, what does this woman do?”
It seems to be impossible for women to stand up for their rights without being accused of one of the other. And of course, eliminating victims would be very convenient for men like Canning. Victims for him become like a sub-class of women; the ones worthy only of being attacked and degraded. Because, as he tweets, “ not all women are victims. And not all rape is rape.”
So not only are victims to be eliminated, and women to be made invisible under the disguise of a phantom gender equality, now even rape becomes a question mark; a feminist creation that needs challenging from A Voice for Men.
The group’s founder and managing director Paul Elam says, “With the epidemic of false rape reports, poor and sometimes corrupt police work, prosecutors blind with power and ambition, and an unconscionable but successful feminist campaign to define rape in the most ludicrous terms possible, we have created a monstrous system of abject injustice, with rights of the accused routinely ground to dust in the name of convictions.”
So now A Voice for Men is operating in the inner ’burbs of Melbourne, with one of their stated goals being “to address the variety of problems faced by men and boys under feminist governance and attempt to ameliorate those problems.”
One cannot but wonder if the ending of three years of a female Prime Minister, to be replaced by a Cabinet made up almost entirely of men, has given the members of groups such as this one, the sense that their time has come and their views are now likely to find more favour in the community.
After all, men still make up 7 out of every 10 MPs, and less than 5% of CEOs of the top 200 ASX companies are women.
Perhaps with a man back in The Lodge, the same man who is now the Minister for Women after spending three long years denigrating and humiliating one publicly, this groups feels that the world is returning back to its misogynist orbit. And they are brave enough to paste stickers on women’s doors in the dead of night.
With the tragic memory of Jill Meagher echoing through my head, I know that all is not right in the world. As Gillard said Monday night, “I had thought we were beyond that and it's kind of depressing that we're not. But at least we know exactly where the balance of it is now and what more remains to be done for women to be truly equal.”