First anti-feminism meeting takes place in Switzerland

// 23 November 2010

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MRAlogo.jpgI 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.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 23 November 2010 at 12:57 pm

Herstory consistently tells us that men will never relinquish their unearned rights and ‘privileges’ without a fight and I.A.F. is just the same as all other anti-women and pro male supremacist groups. They want to see all women reduced once more to men’s servants. Attempting to claim ‘we want equality’ is yet another co-optation of feminism because equality in these men’s opinion means men retaining their domination and control over women.

Likewise claiming it is men who are the ‘victims’ (sic) in divorce cases is too simplistic but given the public does not know the complexities of how family court systems operate, it is a very easy claim to make.

Reality check men are not the ones who lose out in child custody cases – it continues to be mothers who are demonised for attempting to prevent their children from being awarded to their violent ex male partners.

When will these anti-women men’s groups focus on the real issue which is men’s continuing violence against women – but that is something which these men do not want to focus on. Instead they prefer to claim they are ‘victims!’

George // Posted 23 November 2010 at 4:49 pm

“looking at the individual and not judging people by their gender; and accepting that men and women are different and counting that as assets”.

Ha, this is hilariously inconsistent! It’s like they don’t actually have a clue what they are on about… oh…

Shinila Bakar // Posted 23 November 2010 at 5:44 pm

I think Bieri is spot on! Again, and this goes for Theresa May also – how is equality evil?? … how????

“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.”

I call bullshit! What is this ‘back to normal’.. having entire control of women and treating them as wombsocks again? Oh right, those evil feminists getting in *YOUR* way of gently oppressing half a world of people.

Because anti feminists just KNOW that men and women are better off doing entirely different things.. we don’t share 99.9999% of the same genes or anything. Totally different… back to the kitchen we trot!

Anti- feminists = a good laugh. Their line of logic or lack thereof is hilarious.

Helen // Posted 23 November 2010 at 6:26 pm

Well, they say feminists don’t have a sense of humour, but I think this is hilarious!

Also, love this: “A lot of people have the wrong impression about what an antifeminist really is…They believe that an antifeminist is a woman-hater. Not at all…As an antifeminist I believe in true equality between a man and a woman.”

Sound familiar? You could basically take out the anti and change woman-hater to man-hater…

Mercy // Posted 23 November 2010 at 8:46 pm

If dads understood the Family Courts better, they would understand there is no bias. Family Courts must put the best interests of the children first. Their useful approach is to consider it’s best for children to remain with the residential parent (who was most probably the one getting their lunchboxes ready, checking they had their gym kits on relevant days and helping with homework) during the school week and look at equal divison of non school time, i.e. weekends and school holidays. Non residential parents still have rights to see children’s school reports and consent to children’s medical treatment and be involved in their children’s lives.

Yes, residential parents are usually mothers and non residential parents fathers, but then it’s usually because the children stay with the mother when parents separate and because the mother is the one who does the lion’s share of the parenting. If the mother moved out of the matrimonial home on separation and the father stayed as the residential parent, he would continue as the residential parent. There have been some recent cases where the court has been prepared to make a residential order in favour of the father where the mother frustrated contact.

Yes, there are some tragic cases where the courts fail to do enough to ensure that the residential parent compiles with contact orders and frustrates the non residential parent’s efforts to see their children, however some non residential fathers will not stop until they get a shared parenting arrangement regardless of whether this is a) practical and b) good for the children.

Samantha // Posted 23 November 2010 at 9:01 pm

I think all we need to do in responce is take the intials of thier group ‘IGAF’ and add a single letter ‘D’, changing it to ‘IDGAF’.

Name now reads ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck.’

Diana // Posted 23 November 2010 at 10:22 pm

If they want things back to normal, you’re right… they need to state what “normal” is. It seems like a lot of people worldwide mistake reruns of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver for history. Those were the fantasies of the time; the reality was so messy it needed feminism.

Elmo // Posted 23 November 2010 at 10:50 pm

I know this is dreadful, but this whole thing is so completely ridiculous that I keep imagining this “secret meeting” taking place inside a mountain, probably the one where they mine toblerone.

Hannah // Posted 23 November 2010 at 11:21 pm

Elmo – that would seem entirely appropriate given that these men seem to inhabit an alternative universe. Just waiting for them to recruit women to their cause – since, of course, it goes without saying that women can never do sexist things – a la the American ‘surrendered wives’.

Helen // Posted 24 November 2010 at 7:15 am

Is there any reason for having the meeting in a “secret location”, other than having a mental age commensurate with Famous Five fantasies?

Kristel // Posted 24 November 2010 at 1:02 pm

Ha-haaaaaa, Elmo. Yes, the Inaugural Meeting at Mount Toblerone.

And Helen, the Famous Five’s fantasies were a LOT more mature than this bunch of winkers.

On a more serious note, I find Rene the head of PappaRatsGruppen’s mewlings about so-called radical feminist calls for men to be subject to a 9pm curfew or advocating ‘male slaughter, female supremacy’ absolutely incredible. What planet is he inhabiting? But I can think of lots of texts which advocate women be confined to the home full-time, and I don’t hear many people making a big fuss about that.

coldharbour // Posted 30 November 2010 at 5:50 pm

I think unfortunately the views expressed by this group are probably very similar to those held on the Conservative back-benches or even in the cabinet. I’m sure most are told not to publicly express them by the high command for fear of bad publicity but I think it’s pretty obvious the new government has a tacit if not openly hostile to equality of any kind. In short what Theresa May was saying was that social policies to engender or promote equality are going to be a thing of the past because people subscribe to the reactionary right-wing tabloid philosophy that ‘the minorities are getting everything their own way’. I’m sure we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg policy-wise at the moment.

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