crazyjane: (shit_list)
[personal profile] crazyjane
It's almost time for uni students to start choosing subjects, buying textbooks and generally preparing for their first semester classes. Figuring out the areas on which you specifically want to concentrate can be either fraught or fun - in some cases, both. It can make the difference to where you go once your undergraduate degree is done, and what career path is open to you. In any event, it's not a trivial decision.

There are all sorts of disciplines for the Arts student, from the traditional (Sociology, languages) to the exotic (European Union Studies, Gender Studies). This year, if you're studying at the University of South Australia, you also have the opportunity to take up a new course - in 'Male Studies'. Sounds intriguing? Even, perhaps, logical? After all, we used to have Women's Studies, and we have Gender Studies, so why not?

But hold up a moment. Take a look at who's doing the teaching, and the rationale given for establishing the course in the first place. We're not talking about simply focusing on an area that has a history of being inadequately covered in university studies. This is a course with an agenda. A self-declared 'anti-feminist' agenda.

Gary Misan, the course's founder, claims that men simply can't get a word in edgeways these days. You can't criticise feminism, because the women will rise up and crush you. As far as he's concerned, this course is necessary; otherwise, how will there ever be a 'balanced view'? Another lecturer, Greg Andresen, laments the '20 or 30 or 40' years of feminism, during which, apparently, men have been silenced in the halls of academe. Then there's Roy Den Hollander, who opines that men 'struggle' to have any influence whatsoever.

Now, those are some ridiculous, overblown statements. Even granting the presence of Women's Studies as a specific discipline in universities, the idea that men, men's history or men's perspectives have been silenced is laughable. I won't go into the statistics on women's representation (or lack thereof) in the top echelons of society - you can find those easily enough - but it doesn't take a lot of searching to find evidence to completely refute these three lecturers.

As absurd as their statements are, however, the lecturers haven't stopped with outrageous claims about the evils of feminism. Andresen asserts that talking about violence against women renders men invisible, and that women who make false accusations of rape commit 'psychological rape' on men. He also takes issue with every possible statistic that even suggests that men enjoy a social, economic or political advantage over women - whether those numbers come from Amnesty International, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, university studies or social work organisations.

Another, Miles Groth, believes that date rape awareness seminars may deter men from enrolling at university. He suggests that young men despair because they are condemned as sexually violent without cause, and that this in turn affects not only their representation in university and senior secondary school cohorts but their final marks.

But the really nasty ones come from self-proclaimed 'anti-feminist' Den Hollander, whose website is password-protected. He refers to Women's Studies as 'witch's studies'. He likens men's position in society to that of black people forced to sit in the back of the bus. He's attempted to sue many venues for holding 'ladies' nights', on the grounds that they are discriminatory. And then there's this chilling comment:

'There is one remaining source of power in which men still have a near monopoly - firearms'.

Yes, you read that right. Den Hollander explicitly supports the use of guns by men to combat the alleged feminist agenda. Never mind the horrific statistics showing the level of gun violence against women, particularly when perpetrated by an intimate partner (the overwhelming majority of whom are male). Here's just an example, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: in 2005, 40% of female homicide victims were killed by their partners. 55% of those were killed by a gun. According to Den Hollander, that's just men 'taking back their power'.

Den Hollander's an attorney with a penchant for nuisance lawsuits, a tendency to bombast and a long-held grudge against an ex-wife (and he's never shy to remind people of this last). It's a struggle to see where his qualifications to teach lie - but this is someone who's going to be lecturing Australian students on what UniSA describes as a course primarily concerned with men's health issues. A person who advises men - and, by extension, warns women - that firearm violence is a valid response to a perceived loss of 'power'.

To say the appointment of a lecturer with such declared views is inappropriate is an understatement.

Whether or not you believe UniSA's stated position about the Male Studies course - that it addresses a perceived lack of education in a particular public health area - surely there are far better qualified lecturers available, ones who do not push hateful, violent, misleading agendas? Den Hollander and Groth are affiliated with anti-feminist website A Voice for Men, which frequently refers to women as 'bitches' and 'whores'. Andresen, associated with Men's Health Australia, is also an 'Australian liaison' for the National Coalition for Men, a lobby group that blames women for everything from 'sexually conditioning' men to deny their own pleasure to rigging the legal system to deny men their rights as regards their children.

Why not someone like Michael Flood, or Ben Wadham, who actually bother to analyse the statistics, study men's rights organisations, examine claims and take history into account? Why not lecturers who have worked, or do work, in the public health system? Qualified and experienced social and community workers?

If this is the best UniSA can do for a course that is aimed at health degree graduates or those who have experience in psychology, social work, and the like, then perhaps the university needs to rethink its hiring and background check procedures. It's not good enough for Misan to defend UniSA's choice of staff by saying that what their lecturers write on websites, or say in seminars and presentations to specific organisations, doesn't mean that they're necessarily affiliated with those groups.

I beg to differ. If someone is described as an 'Australian liaison', he's not just hitting the comments section of a blog. If someone's Facebook page is littered with groups espousing an agenda best described as advocating misandry, some of which he administers, he's not just clicking the 'Like' button.

Perhaps any publicity is good publicity for this course. After all, A Voice for Men gave it coverage that fairly gushed with glee. 'What Dr. Groth has accomplished is something entirely different, new and worthwhile. And it marks THE moment in history when the complete academic hegemony of gender feminists on discussions of sex, gender, and importantly power, comes to an end,' enthused editor Paul Elam.

But is that really the kind of support UniSA wants? Does this university, with its solid academic reputation, really want to be known as an institution that endorses - even by association - firearm violence against women and the suppression of date rape awareness, not to mention the wilful dismissal of any academic reporting that differs from a predetermined worldview?

Men's health is a serious issue; to all it to be reduced to a platform for misogynistic political lobbying does all of us a real disservice. UniSA has a choice; to be known as the plaything of extreme groups, or to be a world leader in an important area of public health.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-15 11:07 pm (UTC)
tcpip: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tcpip
Pretty much my opinion as well. There is a genuine argument for "men's studies", such as male health issues, gender construction and identity issues. But this particular example is a stalking horse for misogynists.

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