YWCA Sister Program Let’s Us Know Why They March

I spoke to participants in YWCA’s Sister program today about workplace harassment.

We talked about lots of ways to cope and respond to harassment. One of the things we chatted about was the power of collective actions like Take Back the Night in responding to and showing our outrage over gender based violence like sexual harassment.

The participants let us know why they march at Take Back the Night:

Let us know why you march at Take Back the Night.  Comment on this post or email – erin@sacha.ca.

Notes From a SACHA Volunteer

Found this awesome note from Take Back the Night event volunteer Diane on my desk today.

ps

She wrote, “I had a really great time at last year’s [Take Back the Night] event and just knowing that the people at SACHA work hard at trying to support survivors and fight violence against women is quite awesome.”

I am constantly blown away by the kindness of SACHA volunteers.

– erin

Myriad of Misogynist Missteps

In early June the group Canadian Association for Equality was granted charitable status in Canada.

CAFE has been linked to toxic, anti-feminist, anti-women groups from the US – A Voice For Men. AVFM is an extreme anti-woman group that has published articles calling the killer in the Montreal Massacre a ‘feminist hero’.

Ben Spurr had a very odd interview with CAFE’s Outreach Director, Denise Fong, where it sounded like there was a man in the background answering questions for her:

Fong, who said she wrote the press release about E-Day, would not or could not tell us who the councillors and MPPs were. Instead she passed the phone to a man named Justin (at 3:49 of the interview).

Justin declined to give us his last name, saying he was “working behind the scenes as a volunteer” and wasn’t authorized to speak for the group. He too refused to tell us which politicians are backing CAFE. He claimed that supporters have been harassed, bullied, and sometimes stalked and he couldn’t identify them in order to protect their safety.

We put it to Justin that an equally plausible explanation for his refusal to name names would be that CAFE does not in fact have the support of any councillors or MPPs. He agreed that the group’s critics would indeed say that, which was “perfectly fine. They can say lots of things,” he said.

Then he put Fong back on the phone.

As the interview continued, we could hear Justin speaking in the background. It sounded like he was helping Fong answer our questions. We asked her if the man talking was Justin Trottier, a well-known and controversial critic of feminism whose name does not appear on CAFE’s list of officials. She said no.

We asked again if the man was Trottier, and again she said it was not.

Now, we can’t say that Fong was lying about this. But later we compared our interview to recordings of Trottier’s many previous public appearances, and the man Fong assured us was not Justin Trottier sounded like Justin Trottier. A lot.

As our interview progressed, a pattern emerged. We would ask a question, the man-who-definitely-wasn’t-Justin-Trottier would say something in the background, and Fong would repeat his words back to us.

We thought this was strange, and we pointed it out. When we said it sounded like Justin was answering for her, Fong appeared to take offence. “He’s not speaking for me,” she said. “I am the writer of the news release and I am the one who put this out there so you can speak to me.”

The pattern became more pronounced when we asked about CAFE’s relationship with a Voice for Men (at 10:45), a U.S. online anti-feminist organization. AVFM serves as a hub for the men’s rights movement and its stated mission is to “expose misandry,” “push for an end to rape hysteria,” and address the problems men face under “feminist governance,” among other ludicrous goals.

It is worth listening to the entire fourteen minute interview here.

From NOW Magazine:

Not only is CAFE engaged in a fight against feminism, but in a recent post about last month’s Isla Vista killings, one of its directors appears to refute the concept of gender-based violence altogether. Citing the fact that men murder other men more often than they murder women, board member Adam McPhee writes, “If anyone should fear men, it is men. It is not women we need to teach men to be gentle towards, it is men themselves.”

By the end of June it was revealed that CAFE had lied on their application for charitable status, mentioning that they work with women’s and LGBQT groups that had never heard of them:

Yet when the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a self-described “men’s issues” organization, applied to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status last year, it listed the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Egale Canada, and Status of Women Canada as potential participants in its “regular panel discussion series” on women’s and men’s issues. The CRA granted CAFE charitable status in March, 2014.

There’s just one problem: none of the groups listed has ever been involved with CAFE.

The executive directors of Egale and LEAF said they had no knowledge of ever being approached by the organization, and said they would not work with CAFE if they were asked. Before NOW contacted them, neither organization had any knowledge that CAFE had listed them on its application.

A spokesperson for Status of Women Canada, the federal agency, told NOW in an email that none of its representatives had ever been involved in a CAFE event.

LEAF’s executive director Diane O’Reggio was shocked to learn CAFE had associated itself with her organization, which has been defending women’s legal rights for almost thirty years.

“We’re concerned that this organization has used our name in this manner,” said O’Reggio. “We absolutely are not associated with this group and what they stand for.”

“We’re obviously a feminist equality organization and we think the beliefs that they espouse are absolutely in contradiction and opposite to the work of what our organization does.”

Michael Laxer wrote an article for Rabble that gives more information on the so called men’s rights movement in Canada:

The men’s rights movement is clever in its propaganda approach in that tapping into perceived injustice is always a great starting point. So it is smart to state that men face the same adversity as do women and that this adversity is being ignored, even if this is a lie. It is an easy recruitment point for men, and some women, who lack a greater overall historical and social perspective of the nature of patriarchy. It reminds me very much of whites who cry “reverse racism” at attempts to redress centuries of systemic discrimination against Canada’s people of colour and Canada’s Aboriginal and First Nations peoples.

In reality there is no comparison, at all, between what women and men  face in terms of systemic social injustice. In the case of men, the systemic injustice simply does not exist. Anywhere. It is a total falsehood. But notions of false oppression and false victimhood certainly exist, and they allow men to feel justified when they attempt to stop or fight the basic ideas of feminism.

Jaclyn Friedman wrote in The American Prospect about how much the men’s rights movement actually hurts men:

As bad as Men’s Rights Activists are for women (and, really, for our collective humanity), they’re also doing harm to the causes they claim to care about. When an AVFM contributor in Australia called a hotline posing as a man being beaten by his wife and needing a shelter for himself and his son, he claims he was denied help. But if you listen to the recording (or read the transcript), you can clearly hear the counselor on the other line offer multiple forms of assistance, including a free hotel for himself and his son, a direct connection to a police officer specializing in domestic violence, and more. Far from their tagline “compassion for men and boys,” this incident reveals that MRAs are happy to abandon men and boys to real danger when it suits their hate campaign against women.

[...]

Of course, you’ll find women (and, gasp!, even feminists) in leadership in most of the institutions actually working to make life safer for men. It’s feminists who fought a long and recently successful battle to ensure that male victims are included in the FBI’s definition of rape. Some feminists are working to integrate the military so that the burden of war doesn’t just fall on men, and some are working against the militarism that not only enables rape in the armed forces, but underpins the narrow, confining cultural ideas about masculinity that make so many men feel trapped. Feminists have ensured that, through the Violence Against Women Act that MRAs oppose, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the U.S. declined 64 percent between 1994 and 2010, and that decline is distributed evenly between male and female victims.

It’s hard to know what to do about MRAs beyond taking every possible opportunity to expose them as the hatemongers they are. But I think that the above list of feminist victories for men provides a clue. When she interviewed me for the 20/20 segment, Elizabeth Vargas asked me if I wanted to curtail MRA’s right to free speech, noting that even Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has the right to protest. I agreed with her then as I do now, and I advocate the same response that’s been so successful against the WBC: rather than try to stop them, we make a peaceful human chain to blunt their hate and counter it with love. In the case of MRAs, we can do that by continuing to work to improve the lives of both men and women, and to end all forms of gender oppression. There’s nothing like the truth to expose a lie.

Creative Healing Group at SACHA

watercolor strawberries SACHA has a new support group for survivors which uses art activities to help in the healing process.

This eight week group starts on Tuesday, September 30th.  The group is open to women-identified folks who have experienced sexual violence at some time in their lives.

We ask folks to register for the group and be able to attend all eight weeks.  Call a SACHA counsellor to register as space is limited – 905.525.4573.

But I’m Not An Artist!
You don’t need to have any background in art to participate! Come out and take some creative chances with us.

I’m Nervous About Talking…
Being a survivor of sexual abuse can be really difficult to talk about. Art based activities can offer a chance to express ourselves in ways than can feel safer.

I’m Not Sure…
Lots of folks have questions or concerns about group. If you are interested at all, please call SACHA to chat with a counsellor about Creative Healing – 905.525.4573.

watercolor leaves

Coming up this winter – * Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair ! *

SACHA:

NYC Feminist Zinefest posted about our event in November!

Originally posted on Feminist Zinefest NYC:

hfzf-fb-banner-pattern

Ooh, what’s that – another feminist zinefest coming up soon??

Yes! In the city of Hamilton, in the great Canadian province of Ontario… on November 15 of this year – feminists of all stripes will congregate to share, sell, & swap their zines to the public!

Get more info here –

http://takebackthenighthamilton.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/hamilton-feminist-zine-fair/

(And if you’re considering writing a feminist zine, but not quite sure how or what to write about . . . check out the above link for a handy list of ideas!)

Applications to table are open starting *now!*

More basic info:

“When: Saturday, November 15th from 10am to 5pm
Where: YWCA Hamilton – 75 MacNab Street South, Hamilton ON
Accessibility: The space is accessible, including washrooms. More information about accessibility and safe(r) spaces coming soon!”

The ‘fest is organized by SACHA, “a feminist, non-profit, community-based organization of women guided by anti-racist and anti-oppressive values.”

Yay!

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SACHA Young Women’s Sewing Camp!

Youth Sewing Camp FlyerSACHA’s Diverse Communities Outreach Program is offering a sewing camp for young women ages 15 to 20 years old.

When: August 21st and 22nd from 9am to 5pm
Where: 75 MacNab Street South – Hamilton ON.Who: All young women – 15 to 20 years old – who are interested in meeting other young women, learning sewing skills and having fun.
Cost: Free!  Materials and bus tickets provided.

What:

  • learn how to creatively sew
  • learn about making your own designs
  • learn about SACHA’s services

To register call Sandra or Maria – 905.525.4573. Space is limited.

 

How Can the Horror Genre Empower Women?

Aaron Allen is the director of Horror in the Hammer, which organizes the annual Hamilton Zombie Walk and Charity Food Drive as well as Fright Night Theatre: an all-year horror genre film festival and screening series.  This month, Horror in the Hammer have organized a special Fright Night Theatre screening that hopes to will empower both women and men to think critically about the ways in which women are silenced while also helping to empower real and tangible change in our communities. On Friday, August 8th, there is a screening of the Hamilton Premiere of the award-winning Canadian horror film Silent Retreat and donating all net proceeds directly to SACHA in support of its services for survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

silent retreatWe often hear the phrase, “Silence is a virtue.” Nothing, however, could be further from the truth when it comes to the ways in which sexual violence and discrimination take root in our communities. To anyone who has received a message from the dominant culture that she exists to be “seen and not heard,” to anyone who feels misrepresented or marginalized by culture and media, to anyone who has been threatened with physical or sexual violence, then silence takes on an entirely new meaning.  When silence seems to be the only way to cope with trauma and erasure, silence is no virtue. In Tricia Lee’s film Silent Retreat, the social politics of silence crash headlong into the horror genre in a hair-raising and thought-provoking feminist horror film that’s part Stepford Wives and part creature feature. By including Silent Retreat in Fright Night Theatre’s 2014 programme, we hope to create a dialogue about the ways media narratives and media production can empower women to speak out against violence. At the same time, we’re honoured to have the opportunity to help support actual community programs that empower survivors of sexual assault and abuse such as SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line. Continue reading