UPDATED: Men's rights posters pop up in Saskatoon

July 18, 2013 - 11:20am Updated: July 19, 2013 - 6:14am
A voice for Men poster on 20th Street on July 11, 2013. Karin Yeske/News Talk Radio
A voice for Men poster on 20th Street on July 11, 2013. Karin Yeske/News Talk Radio

Men's rights posters are appearing in Saskatoon after similar ones caused controversy in Edmonton.
A Voice for Men is behind the posters here and Alison Tieman, who spoke for the group from Kelvington, said the group has the same message as Men’s Rights Edmonton.

“We would like to see an honest look at statistics about sexual assault. We would also like to see campaigns that reflect all sexual assault victims,” said Tieman, who has been a part of the counter-feminist movement for 15 years.

The Edmonton posters that were put up by Men’s Rights Edmonton are a take on the widely-known “Don’t be that Guy” campaign against sexual assault. They read, "Don't be that Girl...Just because you regret a one night stand doesn't mean it wasn’t consensual. Lying about sexual assault = a crime."

“We are supporting the posters that were put up because they draw attention to the fact that the original posters single out men—all men—as potential rapists,” Tieman said.

“The original campaign posters are telling men not to be that guy which suggests that if they hadn’t told them, they would be that guy.”

The original campaign posters encourage female victims of sexual assault to come forward. Tieman said they prevent male victims to come forward because it pins sexual assault, as a whole, on men.

It's important to shed light on all aspects of violence against people, whether that be women, men, boys or girls, Pamela Downe, associate professor and head of anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan said.

"I don't think that the poster campaigns, from the samples that I have seen, are advancing that cause in any particular way," she said.

A Voice for Men poster on Third Avenue South in Saskatoon. Bryn Levy/News Talk Radio

A variety of posters associated with A Voice for Men in Saskatoon have appeared around the city including on 20th Street and downtown. The posters are available for download on the group's website. Tieman said all posters are made by volunteers and are vetted for hate speech against minorities, men and women.

One posted on Third Avenue South reads, “Canada- the most frightening place to be a man,” and attributes the quote to Erin Pizzey, who founded the first shelter for battered women and is famous for challenging radical feminists.

Underneath it reads “Your silence is important- feminist demand it.”

“Men don’t have a voice when they are vulnerable and because men are expected to be strong, when they have needs they are expected to shut up about them,” Tieman said, adding it shouldn’t be shocking that a woman would be a part of a men’s rights group.

A Voice for Men poster on 20th Street in Saskatoon. Karin Yeske/News Talk Radio

“Why would it be surprising for a woman to have compassion for men and boys? I actually care about all people, I just think that right now, vulnerable men, their voices aren’t being heard,” she said.

A campaign to educate people on the effects of violence particularly on men would make a stronger contribution than one that belittles, said Downe.

"Of course we need to be attending to the men who are victims of violence. I don't know anyone who says we shouldn't be. I just think that we need to do that in a constructive way."

The Men’s Rights Edmonton posters have been the centre of controversy. Several people have deemed them offensive, but Tieman doesn’t agree.

“If they were offensive, why weren’t the originals offensive?” she said.

“If the posters are offensive because they target – I assume because they are targeting women for a particular crime …  the majority of criminals that engage in that crime are mostly women, exactly the same logic that they are using with the flawed statistics on rape, then the original posters are targeting men.”

A lot can be said about the poster campaigns, both here and in Edmonton, in the way the groups are approaching the topic, said Downe.

"Much of my career has been devoted to understanding the health-related aspects of violence and anti-violence programming. I think it is really critical that we understand the full range of violence," she said.

"I like it better when it is phrased as something that contributes to our knowledge than something that calls down the experiences of others."

Women were 11 times more likely than men to be a victim of sexual offences in 2011, according to a Statistics Canada survey done by collecting police-recorded data.

Tieman points to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS) by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. which found that nearly one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime. However, she said the study excludes the male victims who were raped by envelopment, which includes being physically forced to penetrate another person vaginally, orally or anally.

She said the breakdown of the numbers shows the rate of rape for both men and women is the same (1.1 per cent) over the last 12 months.

“So if a (woman) forced a man to have vaginal sex with her at knifepoint that did not count as rape according to their survey. They classified it, instead, as ‘made to penetrate,’” she said.

“If you agree with myself and many legal jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada that a woman physically forcing a man to have vaginal sex is rape, then the picture becomes quite different than what their summary suggests.”

Here are the two tables on sexual violence for both men and women in the full report:

Downe hadn't read the full NIPSVS report but said the researchers use different categories that are not reflected in the three levels of sexual assault in Canada.


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