Dropping the “F” bomb at CATO

On Tuesday, December 11, I attended an event at the CATO Institute in Washington D.C., featuring Greg Lukianoff, President of The Foundation for Individual Liberties in Education.  He was giving a talk on his excellent new book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate,” which every MRA interested in the state of our education system should read.
Several  weeks ago a very good friend of mine who had recently taken the Red Pill and is now a fan of AVFM, it’s radio shows and contributors, told me about it so I bought the book and read it in preparation for the event.  I was very excited as The FIRE is a very important organization that deals in large part with the very same issues that MRAs concern ourselves with regarding our education system.
The book thoroughly handled what students face in regard to free speech rights on campus as well as deliberate efforts to indoctrinate them in ideologies they may not agree with-including, but not limited to, feminism.  Covered were the “Power and Control Wheel” at Michigan State University, the April 4 directive and many other examples of the erosion of free speech, right to due process and the caustic atmosphere on college campuses that demonstrably affect male students.
In fact, I believe as many others do, that many of these polices target male students in a deliberate attempt to marginalize males and masculinity.
The zeitgeist currently in place in our education system, primary through post secondary, is authored by a radical feminist agenda hell bent on putting male students at a severe disadvantage.  The impetus for this has been, among other things, the red herring issue of the wage gap and the myth that men and women have the same tastes, proclivities and aptitudes when it comes to academic pursuits.
And, of course, a whole lot of good old fashioned hatred.
I arrived at their facility on Massachusetts Avenue not far from the Washington Convention Center at 11:30am as they suggested in order to get a good seat at the event.  The CATO Institute has a stellar reputation as a congenial place to exchange and explore ideas and they definitely lived up to it within the first five minutes I walked in the door.  The people were friendly, well mannered and carried themselves with a non pretentious brand of class which I warmed up to immediately.
I was given a name tag prepared for me with the registration info I had provided online with my name, title and the words “A Voice for Men” written prominently below.  As I put it on I felt an apprehensive sense of pride knowing that I was about to present myself conspicuously as an MRA, something that most MRAs find hard to do for understandable reasons.  But of course that was the entire reason I was there.
The theater style room in which they hold their speaking events was modest but impressive.  It was well accoutered with an appropriate sound system, a well lighted stage and an impressive set of presentation screens in back of the podium and panelist seats.  The room also had an array of cameras, the main one being in the back to record the speakers and others on either side of the stage to record audience questions.
Nice” I said to myself “I am going to ask an awkward question about feminists and feminist ideologues in our education system and everyone who watches the CATO institutes vids is going to see me do it.  Yea!
The presentation was excellent.  The host was flanked by Greg Lukianoff on his right and two free speech activists on his left.  Lukianoff was summoned to the podium to give his presentation which summarized his book very nicely.  Afterward, the two student activists spoke about their experiences and I found them very impressive as well.  The entire event is worth spending the 81 minutes watching it as it is a brilliant analysis of why our education system is producing dolts who cannot think critically and those that dare try are targeted like ground moles on a miniature golf course.

Q & A time came and I was anxious to get my questions across.  After several others spoke up they announced that they had only enough time for one more question and thankfully they chose me.  I made sure to call out feminists directly and brought up the specific example of events and the University of Toronto where Warren Farrell spoke a few weeks ago.
I asked that if in light of those events and the long history of feminist thuggary and brass intimidation in our education system, when, and or if, the higher education community would come to grips with and acknowledge the hatefulness of feminism- in so many words of course.  I also asked if the stepping down of Russlyn Ali bode well for the possible repeal of the Dear Colleague Letter.
I knew that asking these questions would, at the very least, bring on an air of unease but was  pleasantly surprised by the electric atmosphere that it induced.  I could hear people squirming in their seats and I swear I heard one person actually hiss.  On review of the video I saw one woman vacating the  auditorium in back of me.  I don’t think she was leaving for the ladies room.  Mind you this is at the CATO institute.
Lukianoff was clearly uncomfortable with the first question.  He referenced the happenings at Michigan State and the April 4 directive in a passionate way but did not dare say the word “feminist,” and asked me if I had actually read his book to which I answered “yes.”
I want to assert that I totally understand his discomfort with my question.  In fact, I knew that my line of questioning would elicit such a response. Mr. Lukianoffis a brilliant man who deserves all the attention of MRAs and those concerned with men and boys in our education system.
However, he failed to directly answer my first question.  And there is a reason for that:

Because he was scared.

I understand.  I really do, as do most people reading this now do.  But someone has to publicly call out this hateful ideology.  I did this using my own name and my title affiliation with a Men’s Rights organization.
Now, I am not preaching or claiming some type of moral authority by doing so.  Their have been far too many MRAs that have paid a terrible price for their activism for me to even consider that.  All that I am saying is that the time for silent and anonymous activism is going to have to come to an end soon and it may as well be sooner than later.
After the event ended and I stood up thinking that no one would take an interest in what I had to say,  I was immediately approached by three individuals saying that they really appreciated what we were doing even though they had never heard of A Voice for Men.
One man said that he was interested in starting something in West Virginia concerning divorced men.  Another simply said “you are doing a great thing, but man do you have a long way to go” and another man, who I would later share lunch with, only wanted me to tell him all about what we were doing.
All of this happened within ten seconds of me getting up to approach Lukianoff so I could tell him how much I appreciated FIRE and the book he wrote while giving him am AVfM business card.  Mr. Lukianoff seemed somewhat annoyed by my approaching him after a brief conversation with my new friends, but that was ok.  I gave him the card while telling him how much I admired FIRE and him as an individual.  I do not expect an email back from him.
Next came a most pleasing experience.  A FREE LUNCH!
Upstairs was a large glass encompassed room where fresh sandwiches were served along with potato chips and soda.  That may sound a bit cheesy but I assure you it was quite tasty and well presented.  I told the staff that they did a very nice job and they responded with pride: “we do it up right here.”  I liked that, and again, I appreciated the spirit of the CATO institute and their hospitality.  This is a rare organization that I think people should support.
I looked across the room and in the very back I saw one of the men that approached me beckoning to join him.  I was delighted.  Seated at the table were him and two other women.  I sat down and he and I chatted about men and men’s rights issues as if he were a long time contributor to an MRA blog.  He was definitely one of those who had taken the red pill but just now realized that there was a movement behind that pill. I recognized the glow in his eyes as I have seen it so many times when I talk about men and men’s rights to other people who are ready for the message.
And make no mistake, there are so many people ready for the message if you will only speak it.
One of the women sitting there stuck out her hand and introduced herself.  I obliged with my hand and introduced myself.
She said “I have a son who is 15 and I think that he is one of those boys that you are concerned about.”  She had a tender, worried look in her eyes and I understood immediately where she was coming from.  I asked her “is your boy in trouble?  Has anyone in the school he is in targeted him because he is a boy.”
“No” she said.  “It’s just that because he is a boy he feels that all of the girls have an unfair advantage over him and he tells me about it.  It’s like he will always come second and there is nothing he can do about it.”
She displayed a mothers concern in her face and I felt for her and her son.  I understood exactly what they were going through- the typical experience that a 15 year old boy goes through in our public education system and parents who feel helpless to do anything to help their own children.
We talked for a time and I exchanged cards with her.  Things wound down and people returned to work or whatever they were doing before . I bid farewell to them.  I was thankful that I had met them all as they were all very good people.
I am not trying to compare what I did with what JTO has done in Vancouver or what other MRAs have done elsewhere in the world, putting themselves at personal risk and professional dissolution.  But I have to say that we must come out of our shells soon.  Anonymous activism in the MRM   has to come to an end.  It just wont cut it anymore.  I totally understand why some may wish to be anonymous, but seriously, we got to present ourselves directly as who we are and not phantoms in online forums.
Do not tell me that there are not opportunities for advocacy in your location.  And do not tell me that if you speak our you will always be shunned or demonized.  You may well be, but people are just as hungry for our message as they are uncomfortable with it.  In fact, our mission is inexorable. The price for failure is too high.
If there is a school board meeting your town or hall meeting in your locale, participate and bring up the Boy Crisis, however subtle or overt.  If there is some town hall meeting with local politicians vying for power confront them with a specific mens’  rights issue.
You may or may not be surprised by the response, but you will never find out by remaining silent.

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