by Katherine Willis
Eight people commit suicide in Australia per day, and six of those are men.
That is a total of 2,190 male deaths (and 730 female deaths) per year.
Such issues are why men’s rights activist group, ‘A Voice for Men’ (AVfM) or specifically, the legal arm of AVfM, ‘AVfM Education, LLC’, holds international conferences around the globe.
This year, it was held on the Gold Coast of Australia earlier this month, spanning across three days.
Known as the ‘International Conference on Men’s Issues’ (ICMI), it tackles social and legal issues that affect men and boys.
Managing Editor at AVfM, Robert Brockway, says this conference unites a global community of activists and “demonstrates to the world” what they’re doing to raise awareness of men’s issues.
“People are unknowing of the issues, even people at the conference that I know … This conference gets the information out there,” he says.
Over 150 people attended the conference, with speakers from a number of backgrounds.
They touched on issues like male genital mutilation, legal discrimination, family law discrimination and selective service.
Columnist for The Daily Telegraph, Miranda Devine, former leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mark Latham and American film director, Cassie Jaye, are some of those who spoke at ICMI.
Recently, Jaye has made Australian news, receiving a lot of criticism over her 2016 documentary, ‘The Red Pill’ that explores the men’s rights movement.
In an interview with Sunrise, Jaye went ‘head to head’ with the talk show hosts over her interview with the founder of AVfM, Paul Elam.
They believe she was not being objective in her documentary because she did not question Elam over his controversial writings.
Certain demographics believe Elam’s writings on AVfM’s blog objectify women and condone rape.
This is what Brockway has to say…
Following her interviews in Australia, Jaye told Sky News host, Andrew Bolt, that she felt ambushed, saying – “A lot of people don’t realise my interview with The Project was heavily edited down. The full interview was very hostile…”
Sunrise has removed their online copy of their interview with Jaye, but you can view The Project’s interview here.
Prior to Jaye’s arrival in Australia, cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney cancelled their screenings of the film, and are not saying why.
Brockway says he helped organise the film’s showing in Brisbane, but kept the venue secret so it wouldn’t be harassed.
“It’s certainly frustrating … I believe passionately in free speech. If someone wants to criticise the documentary for its content, they are welcome to do so. And should do so. But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re not even watching it. They’re arguing from a position of ignorance.”
He then adds: “So I encourage them to watch it, and if they think they can critique it, go ahead.”
‘The Red Pill’ is currently the top-grossing film on YouTube in Australia.
Despite the film’s objections, Brockway believes change is happening in the male community, but says there is still a long way to go.
“People are often not comfortable with the idea of talking about men having issues … There’s been a rise in intolerance to alternative viewpoints in Western society in the last 10 or 20 years.
“We have one of the freest societies in the world … and there’s been an orthodoxy that’s come about and if you speak against the orthodoxy you can expect to be harassed and threatened…”
Associate Professor at Boston University, Timothy Longman, says men’s issues aren’t talked about because “of the continuing excesses of anti-feminist individuals and groups.”
“Journalists do not want to be associated with the hateful, anti-woman rhetoric of some men and are worried that addressing issues specific to men might be seen as supporting this anti-feminist line,” he says.
Similarly, university student, Jedd McCallum, says men are used as a “scapegoat” and that the media presents an ideology that belittles men.
“The media is constantly denouncing men’s rights activists … because to them, it is misogynistic to talk about anything other than the rights of women,” says McCallum.
Brockway says AVfM is not trying to shift away from women’s issues and that their primary goal is unity and equity.
“What we want is a more inclusive response … both genders have gender-specific issues and they should be addressed. The government should fund both of them appropriately…”
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