Saturday, December 1, 2012


I've written an article  about the Feminist Protest Art(?) up at AVFM.

Thanks to Paul Elam for encouraging me to write the article and thanks to Art Professor Pete Smith for inspiring it. I was struggling with the article, so I began writing a response to his letter-style comment of his. It began to get fairly long and I realized that this comment was the article I should post.

So far, the comments posted at AVFM nicely sum up the thoughts that I had that didn't make it into the article. I have to say, that this week has been very emotional. I was worried that something would be misinterpreted or I would say the wrong thing.

There has been a lot of second guessing and I sometimes wondered if the whole thing was a mistake. As I mentioned in the post, I initially tried to send the pictures in an email to an MRA, hoping they'd run with it, but I don't think the email went through. Paul also offered to write an article about it, too. In the end (if this is the end), I'm glad I wrote this article myself.

I have a lot of thoughts boiling up inside and I hope I have time to write them down. For now, I need to unwind. Trying to combat insanity like feminism is draining.



Brian B said...

Quite tragic. Having read your article on A Voice for Men I decided to leave a message here due to the circle jerk going on in the comments there. Lets face it, the commenters are not looking for anyone to challenge their ideas, they are looking to massage each other's victimized feelings while accusing women of self victimization.

A lot of this seems to come down to attitude. I don't think you believe women should be raped, assaulted (verbally or physically), paid less than men, be prevented from certain jobs due to discrimination, etc... And yet, that is exactly what feminism is trying to combat and you're trying to combat feminism.

Now when some men think of feminism they picture a women surrounded by flames stabbing men in the stomach with a pitchfork. But picture this, feminism is not about man blaming and it's not your fault women face hardships. That's right, coming from a man who self identifies as a feminist I'm telling YOU! It's NOT your fault.

As men we can't change the past. The can't change rape. We can't even prevent cat calling. Those things will go on for ages. Even women will participate in those very things feminism seek to prevent. Here is what we as men ARE responsible for. We treat everyone in our own lives equally and with compassion. That's it. If you do that feminism is 100% on your side because promoting equality for anyone, is promoting equality for everyone.

Feminism in its truest form (not the extreme version that rarely exists, but victimized men like to see in every feminist comment) is simply trying to iron out the injustices that have arisen in society due to narrow minded individuals. And you should want feminism to iron out those injustices because when one group is marginalized and there is no punishment for such bigotry we are all at risk.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Anonymous said...


I'll agree with your characterization of the AVFM crowd as a circle jerk... there are a lot of dudes there with a chip on their shoulder, which is very sad.

However, I want to point out that the "truest form" of feminism is called "Humanism." It is not gendered nor colored. "Feminism" is narrowly focused on women's issues, to the point of being willfully blind to men's issues, or age issues, or race issues, etc. Feminism as practiced today has resulted in policies throughout the Western world that have done nothing but cause more harm than good to society, including creating a backlash against women in general and feminism in particular amongst many men and women.

This is a problem that I also see rising in the MRM. Too many guys at AVFM, like I said, have a chip on their shoulder towards women and consequently make their statements about women and feminism too broad. That is a harmful practice that, ultimately, will just lead to the two groups butting heads on every issue and never making any progress, since they will be indistinguishible but for the issues they choose to espouse (much like Democrats and Republicans).

Those who seek true equity must do so with the understanding that movements, -isms, and any other dogmatic entity tend to become narcissistic, regardless of the nature of their origins. Aligning with one is likely to result in myopia and selfishness at the individual level--case in point: OWS.

Anonymous said...

So I've read the response you've posted to me on the MRA site, and I will congratulate you for one thing: I'm now more than a little bit afraid for my personal safety. There are some pretty scary characters commenting on that site. I'm writing to you here because you seem like a fairly reasonable man (who I believe is extremely misguided on one particular point of view.) The funny part is that I'm a family man who lives in the suburbs also, and so some of your other positions I actually have a lot of sympathy with.

You have to understand that as an artist and a teacher who cares about my students, it is my default position to defend their right to make and exhibit their work. If you were a student of mine, and you were creating work that expressed the ideologies that you are demonstrating here, I would defend that also. As a general rule, artists stand up for other artists right to make their work. In this specific instance, the student has made some work that (obviously) presents an extreme position. Do I agree with the sentiments she's expressing therein? No. But will I stand up for her right to express it? Absolutely. This is a 21 year old kid. Young people tend to feel and express things rather extremely. That's part of my job in an art school. This kid has had a lot of bad things happen to her in her short life. Her work expresses a lot of anger that (unfortunately) has been nurtured by lived experience. Her works are meant to offer support to others who have shared those experiences. Have we had conversations about the words she's using and the context that she's using them in? Yes. Will I tell her that she doesn't have a right to use them. No way. She is a very good art student. Does that mean that everything she makes is amazing and that I agree with everything she's saying or how she's saying it? No it doesn't. But she's a student. And she's learning.

And one final thing, about the artistic validity of the Nice Guys Rape poster. I think the point of the piece is that most bad people (like rapists and abusers in general) pose as nice, normal people. They're wolves in sheep clothing. I can't think of a more severe but effective example than Paul Bernardo. He was such an effective monster because he was so charismatic (or seemingly "nice"). I think the larger point of that work is who can you actually trust? (As a parent, the answer for me is basically no one.)

Pete Smith

Anonymous said...


May I suggest that you add to your dialogue with your student the tendency for responding to violence/hate/ignorance/general unpleasanteness to only perpetuate those exact things? Taking the opposite extreme position only makes those in original extreme position feel more justified in their stance, and they become entrenched in their behavior.

This is, as I see it, one of the major failings of the feminist movement: by making most visible the kind of women who absolutely hate men (or "persons with a penis"), the movement has made moderate women and most men feel like it is in their own best interest to bash on feminists, as a measure of self-protection. I understand your position better now (defending her work), but I still feel that you should educate her on this point. One of her responses to this whole thing was "at least in opened a dialogue." But she needs to ask herself: is this the kind of dialogue she wanted? Because it is characterized by not much intellect and an awful lot of feminist bashing.

I would think that one would want to inspire a dialogue of critical analysis, not a cross-fire of meaningless ad hominem.

Anyway, I bring up my first point because if she really is a victim of some form of violence, which she has now extended to all men as perpetrators (so it seems from her work), she's not going to help end that cycle of violence by saying these sorts of things (I am 23, so her being 21 is no excuse for taking such an extreme position). I hope that I illustrated above that doing so will only encourage more hatred and ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Where's an edit button when you need one?

*May I suggest that you add to your dialogue with your student the tendency for responding to violence/hate/ignorance/general unpleasanteness [WITH MORE OF THE SAME] to only perpetuate those exact things?

Cul-De-Sac Hero said...

Hi Pete,
I don’t think that any of the commenters there are scary characters. I read through the comments for the zillionth time and found nothing threatening. I would rest assured that they are armed with nothing but posters and ideas. When I was discussing how to write the article with the site admin, he said that we needed to include as much information as possible, including the artist, if known. I learned that it was OCAD and you came forward as an authority to defend it, so you ended up feeling the brunt of the criticism. Believe me; MRA’s are not militant or as bold as feminist activists. Look at the recent U of T protest of an MRA speaker. Your fear of the commenters at the MRA sight may be due to feminist conditioning to view masculine men as threatening – just throwing that out there. I know it is stressful to be discussed openly on the Internet.
I don’t think that you would defend a student who wanted to make work that could be interpreted as hateful or incited violence toward any other group. Your justification of your student’s work - because men are oppressors and women oppressed - is not sufficient. It goes back to the golden rule. You can’t demand equal rights if you don’t respect the rights of others, just because you view them as oppressors. You need to stop viewing people as members of groups fighting oppressor/oppressed battles and see people as individuals.
I think that feminism has been accepted as mainstream, mainly because of the sense of equality and justice that resides in everyone’s heart. Most people will agree that everyone should be treated equally and given equal opportunity to live the life of their choosing. There is still some disagreement about the meaning of equality - outcome vs. opportunity - but the spirit of equal rights has been accepted by politics and businesses everywhere.
It does nobody and service to let them vent their personal pain toward society.
Paul Bernardo is your image of a nice guy who rapes? That’s not who I pictured when I saw the poster. I thought it was referring to date rape. The nice guy who supposedly feels entitled to sex is often demonized by feminism. Bernardo was a sick, twisted psychopath who got turned on by bludgeoning and raping victims.

Paul Elam said...

I know I am late to these comments, but I just found them.

Just want to say the irrationality of these comments is reinforcement for why I do what I do. So much conjecture and ignorance it is amazing.

Maybe no one will read this but you, CDSH, but I laud you for stepping up. And I think time passing will prove you backed the right horse.

Hats off.