The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Another Men’s Rights Activist Suicide Exploited by Ideologues

By Arthur Goldwag on May 14, 2013 - 8:28 am, Posted in Anti-Woman

Last spring, I wrote an article for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Report that ran online under the headline, “Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement.” One year later, following an unremitting series of attacks on what I wrote by defensive men’s right activists (MRAs), another suicide has shed new light on men’s rights activism.

Back in 1991, Earl Silverman started a self-help group for abused men in Calgary, Canada. Silverman’s abusive wife had fled to a women’s shelter after he’d “hit her back,” he said, but no equivalent refuge had been available to him. Over the years, he filed numerous complaints against the provincial government, in which he argued that its failure to provide the same funding for battered men that it did for battered women was a violation of basic human rights. Three years ago, he opened a shelter for battered men in his home. In April, 2013, beset with financial difficulties, Silverman closed its doors, sold his house, and hung himself, “murdered by suicide by the Feminized state of Canada,” as the National Coalition for Men’s Harry Crouch put it.

In summarizing Silverman’s story, the online Atlantic Wire’s Alexander Abad-Santos quoted from both the Intelligence Report and Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, who wrote, “There are male victims. … Yet where Silverman came up short was in perpetuating the Men’s Rights Movement’s fiction that there’s any gender equity as far as violence and victims.”

The MRA website A Voice for Men reacted with its signature restraint, accusing Abad-Santos of “gloating” over Silverman’s corpse. It brought the SPLC into the story, too, falsely accusing it (and me) of backpedaling after a tsunami of outrage met what was described as our “irresponsible fear-mongering about the MRM.”   Anyone who denies that men are as victimized by women as women are by men is a shill for feminism, with its “core foundations of violence and hatred,” it added.

Another MRA blogged, “I cheerfully await the feminists who will be dancing on [Silverman’s] grave.”

The odd thing is that links in Silverman’s own blog offer a more nuanced view of his story than his mourners do. Voluminous briefs and transcripts document how accommodating various officials were — assigning him a liaison, inviting him to conferences, scheduling interviews with ministers, granting him wide latitude when he failed to dot every bureaucratic “i” and cross every “t.” He also benefited from the  $1,000 benefit that is available to people of either gender who are fleeing domestic violence in Alberta. The same Harry Crouch who accused “Feminized” Canada of murder celebrated in 2011 when “Earl Silverman’s DV [domestic violence] shelter … announced that it took in and housed its first male victim that had been both referred and funded by a $1,000 grant from the local provincial government. This is a huge deal.”

Some of those who knew Silverman saw things quite differently.

“Mr. Silverman appears incapable of coherent and rational problem solving with government or community partners,” Maria David-Evans, the exasperated deputy minister of Alberta Children’s Services wrote in a formal response to one of his suits. “This is clearly not because of discrimination or gender bias … but is based on the illogical, unjustifiable and unreasonable ideology needed to communicate his views about misandry conspiracies that he has come to believe.”

Like the men’s rights movement at large, Earl Silverman was not always his own best advocate. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that his supporters are looking to get more out of his death than any feminists are.

  • elizabeth1848

    See Statistics on College Admissions above, Aron. Is that really the way you spell your name or are you just a dumb troll? In the future Aron, please do your own research to ascertain the facts. Facts like the ones I’ve cited are pretty easy to confirm and are well documented. Apparently, you are either intentionally ignorant because you’re too emotionally invested in in your misogyny or you’re sincerely unaware of the reality all around us.

    (Aron said,on June 3rd, 2013 at 8:47 am Amfortas, Let’s have some proof for your absurd claims. Put up or shut up.)

    My clarifying reply in addition to the male favortism in college admissions:
    The lowered standard on college admissions and other incentives like special male sports programs for males continue to be promoted despite the the burden of higher costs for educating males. ALL students must shoulder the extra costs male students entail whether from the increased vandalism males commit on campus or the added legal and medical/counseling costs from rapes and sexual assaults that the male are responsible for. Women students pay for the crimes and misconduct of male students, not only by the abuse the females sustain, but in the lower quality of campus life and learning. They pay for it monetarily in their tuition as well.
    Some documentation of male on-campus behavior effecting all students:

    College Serial Rapists Evade Antiquated Campus Responses
    Bloomberg News, By John Lauerman – Jun 13, 2013 12:01 AM ET

    Carly Mee, a student at Occidental College (78100MF), was hanging out with friends in late 2010 when a male student’s name came up. Mee was standing near Leah Capranica, a fellow sophomore, who said she’d had a bad experience with the student. The two women met the next day and told each other a secret: They had been sexually assaulted by the same man.

    In April, a third female student came to the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition, a group of students and faculty fighting campus rape, saying she had been assaulted by the same man and that he had been found responsible by the college, said Caroline Heldman, chairman of Occidental’s politics department and a faculty member of the group. “We’re talking about a perpetrator with several victims,” Heldman said. “It just seems like a no-brainer that if you identified a serial rapist, you would expel him.”

    The women filed complaints with the college, and after investigations, the male student was found responsible for Mee’s attack, according to college documents, and admitted assaulting Capranica, she and university professors said. Occidental expelled him. A few months ago, Mee received word that the man would be allowed back to school the next academic year, after writing a report about a book on sexual assault. “The verdict wasn’t changed,” she said. “The punishment was changed. I asked why and no one could tell me.”

    Across the country, colleges are under fire for using antiquated and amateurish procedures to prevent and investigate rapes and other sexual assaults on campus — have prompted anger from rape victims and scrutiny from the U.S. Education Department.

    A group of Occidental students and alumni filed a Title IX complaint with the Education Department on April 18 saying the school doesn’t meet federal standards for preventing and responding to such attacks.
    Similar complaints have been filed against Yale University, Swarthmore College and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Swarthmore, in Pennsylvania, and UNC are conducting reviews of their sexual-assault policies.

    “The young women who have come forward to report their assaults should feel protected, but the colleges have magnified their suffering,” said Gloria Allred, a Los Angeles-based attorney who is representing Mee, Capranica and other students who say they were sexually assaulted at Occidental and the University of Southern California. “These are institutional failures to comply with government regulations.”
    Yale, based in New Haven, Connecticut, is facing a $165,000 Education Department fine for failing to report campus sexual assaults in 2001 and 2002.

    Campus Assaults
    At least one-quarter of women are sexually assaulted during their college years, according to studies published as recently as 2000 by the U.S. Justice Department and crime researchers. About 27 percent of college women are raped or suffer attempted rape, according to researchers at Wayne State University.

    Serial Rapists
    A relatively small minority of men are responsible for most of these attacks, according to David Lisak, a former University of Massachusetts clinical psychologist who consults to the U.S. military and colleges on sexual assault. In Lisak’s study of 1,882 college men, 120 admitted committing rape or attempted rape. They admitted to 483, or an average of 4 assaults each.

    “College presidents don’t like to hear this, but these are sex offenders,” said Lisak, who spoke last month at Harvard University, sponsored by student group Harvard Men Against Rape. “Every report should be viewed and treated as an opportunity to identify a serial rapist.” Occidental President Jonathan Veitch declined to discuss specifics of Mee and Capranica’s cases, or disclose the name of the male student, citing state and federal privacy laws. Reducing punishments may be appropriate when new evidence comes to light, he said.

    Amherst College is overhauling its sexual-assault response programs following a campus outcry over the school’s policies, a former student said she was raped in 2011 and the Amherst, Massachusetts-based school discouraged her from reporting. Until last year, students at the University of North Carolina could take sexual-assault complaints to Honor Court, a student-run conduct committee. “It was surprising to me that the Honor Court ever had jurisdiction over this in the first place,” said Kevin Diao, a UNC senior, in an interview in the campus student center. “We’re students here, we’re not investigators.”

    Students often don’t report sexual assaults to the police because the assailants may be friends or acquaintances, and the victims may not want them arrested, said Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney.

    Two Weeks
    Occidental, a 125-year-old, selective liberal arts college with about 2,100 students, gained attention after the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, who spent his first two years of college there in 1979-1981.
    Mee had been at Occidental College (78100MF) about two weeks in 2009 when she went to a party and became intoxicated. A male student separated her from her friends, led her back to her room and raped her, she said. The next night, the same student forced his way into her dorm room and assaulted her again, Mee said. At first, she didn’t want to report the incidents. Mee said she received little education about sexual assault when she started college and didn’t understand what it meant to give consent. “I told a friend, and he said I was stupid for letting him in my room,” she said. “I felt I was somehow at fault.”

    Always Leering
    After she was assaulted, Mee said she continually saw her attacker leering at her in the school cafeteria, called “The Marketplace.” Friends told her they heard him talk about his enjoyment of dominating women, she said. She felt like she was always looking over her shoulder. “Oxy’s a small campus, and every party I went to I pretty much left in tears,” she said. “I couldn’t go out or even go to the place where we eat because I knew I’d see him.” She said she thought of leaving the school.

    Capranica, the second victim, said she was attacked just before classes began her sophomore year in 2010. She suspected her assailant had given her drinks that might have been spiked.
    Mee and Capranica declined to name their attacker. Students are often reluctant to identify assailants publicly because of the risk of legal reprisals from them or their families.

    Accused Students
    College investigations can also be “quite disadvantageous” for accused students, said Fairstein, the former prosecutor. Those students may not be allowed to use lawyers or call witnesses, or have the rights of someone charged in the criminal justice system, she said. “The accused may well be deprived of what we think of as due process,” she said. Allred declined to name any of the women’s alleged assailants. She and her clients are investigating cases against the college, not the assailants, at this time, she said.

    When Capranica first talked with school officials about reporting the incident, she said they discouraged her. They said her assailant wouldn’t be expelled even if he was found responsible, and she would still see him on campus. They also discouraged her from going to police, Capranica said. When the school began investigating Capranica’s complaint, the male student admitted to assaulting her, according to Capranica and professors who helped her file her case. He was put on probation and told to write a book report. Capranica said the investigators didn’t talk to witnesses who might have helped establish his predatory behavior. She decided to graduate early, at the end of 2012, because she felt let down by Occidental.

    Mee found her investigation even more frustrating.Ten Times
    Between the investigators, administrators and officials at the hearing, Mee said she told her story about 10 times. She left each meeting in tears and had trouble sleeping. She took incompletes in two classes, finishing during vacation time, she spent much of her time doing homework in the library’s basement. She joined a support group and began seeing a therapist, saying she felt depressed.

    Mee asked whether her assailant could be moved off campus during the investigation. A school administrator who had spoken with the alleged attacker said he wasn’t dangerous enough to be asked to leave, Mee said. “They acted like they could judge his character just from meeting with him,” she said.

    December Return
    After the three-month probe, the man Mee accused was found responsible for her assault and expelled, according to documents. In accordance with school procedures, he filed an appeal. Then, on Jan. 12, Mee got a message from the Office of Student Conduct, saying the male student would be allowed to return to campus in December, after she graduated. He would also have to write a report on a book about sexual assault, Mee said.

    In April, a third female student came to the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition, a group of students and faculty fighting campus rape, saying she had been assaulted by the same man and that he had been found responsible by the college, said Caroline Heldman, chairman of Occidental’s politics department and a faculty member of the group. “We’re talking about a perpetrator with several victims,” Heldman said. “It just seems like a no-brainer that if you identified a serial rapist, you would expel him.”

    After graduating last month, Mee is planning on law school next year, following her mother, who specializes in arbitration and mediation. Mee said she’s unlikely to return to Occidental in the months or years to come because the male student will be back on campus. “I can’t come back and visit the college I went to and visit my friends,” she said. “And if he comes back, there are other people at risk of being assaulted.”