‘International Men’s Day’ campus event sparks backlash

Published

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thaïs Ramdani
Writer

UPDATE: One of the organisers, Mac Convery, recently posted to the event page: “I appreciate that our lack of a safe space policy has been controversial, however I have not handled this the best way. I did not fully appreciate that people could be scared of coming to an event with no SS policy in place.”

QMU board members will be in attendance to moderate the event. Opinion boxes will be provided for any anonymous opinions to be submitted.

QMU President Jack Smith posted to the event page: “If anyone is deemed to be offensive or abusive, they will be asked to leave. If we deem it necessary we will cut the event short. The Board of Management’s decision in this respect is final. We believe in free speech and the opportunity for open debate on controversial and important issues (such as those outlined by the organisers) but our primary responsibility in all instances is to our members, and their wellbeing must come first.”

A student-led International Men’s Day event being held on campus this weekend sparked a social media debate among students at the University of Glasgow due to comments made by the organisers about safe spaces and feminism.

The group of students organising “International Men’s Day at the UofG” stated on the event’s Facebook page that it is an “open discussions of issues facing men, such as suicide, violence, and health.” They have booked a room in the Queen Margaret Union for their discussion on Saturday.

However, the event has sparked a negative backlash from critics who feel it is mocking the role of International Women’s Day.

One student posted on the page, asking: “Will there be a safe space policy in place to ensure that misogynistic language and dismantling of feminist ideologies such as ‘rape culture’ is not tolerated, and that the event is open and inclusive?” The post – which collected 155 likes and over 60 comments in a few hours – prompted a discussion on the use of safe spaces.

Organiser Mac Convery clarified that the event will not be implementing a safe space policy, saying: “Our policy will be that if anyone says something that you find offensive, you are free to challenge them.” Adding that they “will not stifle free speech.”

Convery told students, “[The group will] be talking about areas in men’s lives that are of significant concern, such as high suicide rates, homelessness, domestic abuse etc. [They will] try and gauge what drives men to these areas and/or what happens to them as a result. For each area covered, [they will] bring in statistics from reputable sources. [They will] prompt discussion, and anyone who wants to share their opinions and/or experiences is encouraged to do so.”

This statement was challenged by a number of students voicing their concerns about the lack of such a policy. The issues planned to be discussed – including suicide and mental health – were described as sensitive issues in need of a safe space policy. Other students disagreed that a safe space policy was necessary.

One user replied, “The level of feminist arrogance is also very troubling to me. Men’s rights is [sic] a genuine issue and since we are in an ever more misandrist culture it is somehow even offensive to talk about it? Disgusting.”

Convery replied, “We neither condoned nor condemned misogyny. For the record, we do condemn discrimination.”

Laura Penny Neil, one of the event’s co-hosts, stated that the group will meet in order to “address some of the issues raised in this thread and let each of us voice our thoughts and concerns.”

Another user commented, “Feminism is an absolute illusion, women are blinded by trying be patriotic. The only place they belong is in the kitchen making sandwiches. End of. No discussion needed.”

As a response to the event, Amy Jefferies of the Glasgow University Psychology Society announced that the society will be organising an event on men’s mental health and suicide rates, and are planning to bring in expert speakers. She also stated that “misogyny will not be tolerated”.

The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) are not affiliated with the organisers of the International Men’s Day event.