A poster of the “#SheForHe: Women of the Men’s Movement Speak” panel event.

#SheForHe: Women of the Men’s Movement Speak

Speech at University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society

Introductory Speech by Denise Fong at the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society Panel Event “She For He” — Toronto, Ontario — February 25, 2016 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FAqrV9P7ls

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Good evening, I’m Denise Fong, leader of the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society, and your panel moderator tonight.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post described Madeleine Albright, the first ever-female U.S. Secretary of State, as, “the embodiment of female ability, know-how, and grit.”

Madeleine Albright would be a prominent voice of support for Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

And this month, the former US Secretary of State’s way of encouraging female potential voters to vote for Hillary, was to tell them that if they didn’t do so, as women helping women, then, quote,

“there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

You might know that this backfired heavily among intended women voters. And later in the month, Hilary went on to lose the primary election to Bernie Sanders in the state of New Hampshire.

I don’t know if it was a factor.

(She’ll probably be the next US President though. That’s my projection.)

The notion of, “women stick together,” helping women because they are women, and rallying the idea of “girls first” isn’t resonating with the public as it once did.

From the same camp, the mentality of a broad victimhood, or calling for all the heads of the accused (fist pumping when they’ve been cut off), then allowing a frenzied media to blindly condemn individuals, like Jian Ghomeshi, as we’ve seen for months now in our city — it doesn’t resonate. I don’t know if he’s innocent, I don’t care that much about that. What I care about is the hijacking of our justice process, by your average citizen and by law enforcement, as a means to attack someone rather than to defend or to get the truth.

It seems to me that so much of what is resonating with me today, as a woman, and also with many of the women I’ve known through the Canadian Association for Equality (our event sponsor tonight), is not talked about, anywhere.

Men’s issues aren’t talked about in public, in government, or at schools. Here, once a month we’re doing it at the UTMIAS. But where else, in Canada’s largest city, is there a regular, intellectual discussion on men’s issues?

I admit it can be discouraging, when exploring the established social services infrastructure in Toronto on behalf of our group, how I’m told very clearly through it that all my male loved ones — my brothers, husband, and father — that they matter less, if at all.

I admit I still find it bizarre to be seen as this politically incorrect; how week after week, posters for our event tonight are torn down the instant they’re stapled up across the UofT.

(Not that we were expecting any special consideration for our all women panel this time.)

Introducing the first ever panel event of women supporting men, talking about women supporting men. “She For He” is a road that’s much less traveled, but deeply compelled by a sense of responsibility for what happens to all of us, and those we care about.

…When terms like “patriarchy,” “rape culture,” the “wage gap” (terms originated primarily by women), aren’t looked at critically, or are just otherwise repeated or believed today, a good question for female members of our audience tonight is, how do you feel about it, as a woman? What do you think about these terms?

We welcome your thoughts, tonight.

To conclude, I would say, in truth, the former US Secretary of State’s statement earlier this month was quite right. As women opting out of the “women-must-vote-for-women” camp, we find ourselves indeed living in that “special place in hell,” that she describes of us.

Because when it’s twenty times the workplace fatalities today, and more than half of all domestic abuse victims dismissed by society — dismissed by police, dismissed like the male majority of those homeless, suicidal, or wrongfully accused (yet in Canada, until the founding of the new Canadian Centre for Men and Families, have zero dedicated social support services) — men in Canada today are plainly disposed of.

Or they’re put away. Put away from us, put away from themselves, their future, and all too often, put away from their own children.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, this is really all our hell.

Tonight, for the first time, you will have the opportunity to see how we stand in this “special place in hell,” speaking as women of the men’s movement.

Thank you for joining us tonight. Please welcome our panelists!

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