Hannah Smith is the NSW President of NUS. She is the proud step-mother of a sausage dog Bronson and is failing her Political Science and Economics degree because of her passion for student unionism. All she wants in life is to be like Leslie Knope (without the recall).
This morning I woke up to a picture on my facebook news feed of a poster that has been plastered all over the entrance to Sydney University campus: “You don’t fear and hate men do you? DO YOU? MEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS”. After browsing their webpage [mensrightssydney.com] I thought to myself that perhaps it wasn’t worth making a fuss about this obviously ineffectual ‘organization’: their “activism” tab is completely empty besides a poorly made poster with a range of men copied and pasted in from google images. I thought that wasting energy on pushing back on their feeble intrusion on our campus would only weaken more important fights we need to have in Sydney right now; specifically fights about our reproductive rights.
After talking to my housemates about it though, I realized that misogynistic “men’s rights” discourses start with a whimper and not a bang. A few years ago we would’ve not heard of such groups on university campuses, now we have proposals for entire courses on men’s rights at some universities. We have pro-life groups funded by our student unions and proposals for “men’s clubs” as well. When we let MRA posters onto our campuses (even those with poorly designed webpages), we are legitimating their claims that there is a ‘debate’ to be had about feminism and gender equality. As women’s activists, we know there is lots of debates to be had about feminism, but none of them should involve questioning the core premise; that women are fundamentally unequal in our society.
By allowing them a place in our intellectual institutions we are detracting from the fights that need to be had and allowing ourselves to be dragged back to square one of the movement- defending its existence. The person who saw these at our uni tore them down. I will be doing the same and encouraging others to do so also. Some will disagree with this tactic because it stifles “debate” and free speech. But I know there is no debate to be had. The stats and figures speak for themselves.