On March 26th, a Queen’s university student who has been involved in feminist activism on campus was physically assaulted outside of her home.
Danielle d’Entremont was punched in the face multiple times and lost half of a tooth. She had been vocal about her opposition to a Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) talk on campus, entitled “What’s Equality Got to Do with it? Men’s Issues and Feminism’s Double Standards”. The event featured Janice Fiamengo, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who vocally denies rape culture on university campuses.
Although she isn’t certain that the event is directly linked to her activism on campus, Danielle had received a number of threatening emails leading up to the event. She also says that her attacker was a man that she did not know but who knew her name.
MIAS denies any responsibility for the attack.
Students have tried to de-ratify the Men’s Issues Awareness Society as a club at Queen’s University because of how they perpetuate rape cultural and the oppression of women.
The Kingston police are investigating the assault and are aware of the “…potential context in regards to the topic of feminism, equality and that men’s issues awareness group”. The investigation is ongoing and Const. Steve Koopman has stated that “Criminal repercussions will occur regardless if this is coming from this type of debate or if it’s independent of that”.
Tensions are of course running high on campus with many expressing concerns about safety. In response to these tensions and to Danielle’s experience of violence, a group of Queen’s alumni wrote a letter of solidarity. The letter condemns violence on campus and recognizes that violence can work to silence those involved in social justice and feminist activism:
“As feminists we sometimes feel the risk of identifying ourselves with the “F” word or speaking up, for fear of threats, physical intimidation, or physical violence. Indeed, it would be easier to stay away than to speak up.
The backlash plays in our mind and gives us reason to pause before we share our opinion, defend what we believe, or support others who continue to push for the basic human rights of women. That backlash can shame us or bully us into stepping down, yet it is for these exact reasons that we must continue to show up, speak up, and stand up.
Without our voices, there can be no change.
…We condemn the use of threats, intimidation, and physical violence in the on-going discussions of gender, sexuality, equality, and equity at Queen’s University and campuses across Canada. This is not the environment we are working towards.
Every voice silenced is a loss in the ongoing struggle for equality.”