York staff and students have spoken out after receiving hate and abuse online in connection with their involvement with International Men’s Day (IMD).
Messages received have included homophobic and misogynistic slurs, and have come from a wide range of people, from across the world.
YUSU Sabbatical Officer Scott Dawson has advised anyone who has been targeted to get in touch with support groups including the University Open Door Team.
Controversial journalist Milo Yiannopoulos posted on Twitter about the cancellation of IMD early last week.
He went on to mention specific students, shared a picture of another student, the YUSU LGBTQ Officer Jack Chadwick, making reference to his sexuality and posted conversations from the FemSoc page sometimes without blurring names of the commenters.
This led to a deluge of tweets, Facebook comments and private messages being directed at the students featured, many containing homophobic, misogynistic and often personally insulting content.
Jack Chadwick received a number of offensive messages to his personal Facebook account.
One of the messages sent read: “Someones gona sort u the f*ck out f*g. The way of the world.”
Jack Chadwick said: “Most of the comments were pretty pathetic, especially the ones directed to my personal accounts.
“These private ones were a lot fouler. I also noticed that all of the slurs I received related to the fact that my profile picture shows me in drag.
“The harassment has been a source of stress and frustration for myself and the others who’ve been on the receiving end.
“It’s put a massive strain on the work we’re all doing to organise Sexpose this week, and I know that it’s disrupted a lot of our coursework as well.
“I’ve personally left York for a few days to get away from it all.”
Chadwick, the YUSU LGBTQ Officer, added: “There are serious problems for men related to gender, most obvious in the mental health crisis.
“But these issues are just facets of one system, and on the whole women bear the brunt of the problems gender roles creates.
“IMD also isn’t a good platform for dealing with any issues because of the event’s associations with misogynists and the separation it seeks from feminism.”
There have also been reports of threats being sent to personal accounts on Facebook and e-mail to both students and members of staff who signed the open letter.
This led to the FemSoc group on Facebook being deactivated, with many students changing their Facebook names in order to protect themselves, leaving many scared to speak out.
One member of staff who wished to remain anonymous told Vision: “So far I’ve been lucky enough to only receive a couple of hits to my academia.edu page, whereas others who have a more public
profile have been targeted by MRAs with an anti-feminist agenda and little genuine concern over mental health issues.”
When YUSU LGBTQ Officer and signatory of the open letter, Evie Paffard, was a guest on URY there was outcry as to how she was treated by the interviewer, with people saying he was aggressive and accusatory towards her.
URY issued an apology publicly and to Evie personally.
Peter Rogers, the station manager of URY told York Vision that “the actions of the interviewer did not reflect the journalistic standards we expect from our members.”
YUSU Community and Well-being Officer Scott Dawson said: “Any students who have been impacted by any events brought up from IMD or anything related to it are being advised by myself and YUSU to get in touch with the University Open Door Team, their College Teams, our YUSU Advice Support Centre and Nightline.
“Those who have got in touch with myself or other members of YUSU have been signposted onward to one of these groups with the utmost urgency to ensure the wellbeing of our students.”