First anti-feminism meeting takes place in Switzerland
Sheena Vasani // 23 November 2010
I have heard of everything now. In a secret Swiss location, 150 male activists gathered to hold the first ever “international antifeminism meeting”. SwissInfo.ch reports that, labelling themselves as “peacekeepers”, the Swiss based group IGAF (Interessengemeinschaft Antifeminismus) denounce feminist social workers as “pure evil”, and that it was essential for them that “things should go back to normal”.
Now, I am not quite sure how far back IGAF are proposing to go. Perhaps 50 years ago when women were still considered ideal for housework and rearing children or better still, before women obtained the vote, and were voiceless ‘second-class’ citizens.
Women’s organisations such as the Fawcett Society are campaigning on issues such as equal pay. In the UK, women get paid, on average, 16.4% less than men. And the placards held at this year’s Million Women Rise stated “End Male Violence against Women”. According to an IGAF member, the feminist message clearly implied here is “male slaughter, female supremacy”.
Addressing the day-long conference was IGAF founder René Kuhn, and speakers from a German gender policy initiative, the Swiss men’s political party, an interest group for divorced men and European and Swiss men’s and fathers’ rights groups. Ulf Andersson, a member of the group has written up a statement for last month’s meeting drawing up the five key beliefs of anti-feminists.
“Opposing the feminist hatred of men; valuing the nuclear family; believing in the child’s rights to both its parents after a divorce or a separation; looking at the individual and not judging people by their gender; and accepting that men and women are different and counting that as assets.”
Andersson founded the Swedish father’s rights group PappaRättsGruppen after being prevented from seeing his daughter for six years after getting divorced from his wife. Images of ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Batman’ springs to mind, as the UK equivalent, Fathers for Justice, tend to have various protests in the name of ‘equality.’ However, unlike the super-hero clad fathers, the Swiss group have taken their complaints to a different dimension.
“A lot of people have the wrong impression about what an antifeminist really is,” said Andersson. “They believe that an antifeminist is a woman-hater. Not at all. An antifeminist is a kind of peacekeeper who wants to return things to normal. As an antifeminist I believe in true equality between a man and a woman.”
As suspected, a core of feminist activists took this to mean otherwise so amidst the feminist plans to hold demonstrations in Zurich, the venue was changed and the new location kept under wraps until the last minute. Graffiti was sprayed on a community hall in Uitikon, canton Zurich, where the meeting was originally planned, and leaflets were also handed out for a rally to coincide with the event.
Sabin Bieri, of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies in Bern, stated that: “Feminist positions today, although diverse, stand for more justice in our societies, including politics and the economy. This does not mean – and has never meant – a reversal of discriminating structures.” She said one of the most popular examples drawn upon by antifeminists and more mainstream men’s interest groups is the discrimination of fathers in divorce decrees.
“All I can read from the antifeminist position is frustration, possibly rooted in personal experiences. I think it is a very marginal position with no potential for generating initiatives which would be acceptable for average citizens,” Bieri added.
The IGAF seem a little haphazard in their cause. Rather than condemning and accusing the opposition as the root of the problem, creating an ‘anti’ movement, will still not solve the struggle in creating an equal legal system for both parents. However, as the ‘Antifeminismus’ website claims that: “Feminism is an ideology of unjustified privileges, a procurement by men who hate women,” it is quite apparent that their research into the motives of women’s organisations are non-existent. The continual complaint that seemed to be throughout the website was of underprivileged men in the divorce courts, and that was enough for IGAF to create an entire movement against feminism.
As the feminists ponder over this rather arbitrary anti-movement, they still have to tackle the real issues at hand such as domestic violence, rape and equality in all aspects of work, no matter how much the IGAF want to deny the cause.