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Why are anti-feminist posters going up in Saskatoon and Edmonton?

Young man and woman sitting at table face to face, arm wrestling

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Are you a Canadian male who believes your gender is getting a bad rap from those pesky and persistent feminist types? Go west, young (or more likely, old) man.

According to unnerving new reports, posters advocating for the rights of men have been turning up on streets in Saskatoon only one week after similar posters stirred up a controversy in Edmonton.

The Edmonton posters were put up by the advocacy group known as Men's Rights Edmonton, which is taking sharp aim at the "Don't Be That Guy" campaign designed to educate men against sexual assault.

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The Men's Rights Edmonton version of the poster read, "Don't Be That Girl … Just because you regret a one-night stand doesn't mean it wasn't consensual."

Now similar posters have been popping up in Saskatoon with the admonitions "Men's rights are human rights," and "Canada is the most frightening place to be a man."

Alison Tieman of the anti-feminist Saskatoon group A Voice for Men says the "Don't Be That Guy" campaign only encouraged female victims of sexual assault to come forward and paid short shrift to male victims of sexual assault.

"Men don't have a voice when they are vulnerable," said Tieman. "And because men are expected to be strong, when they have needs they are expected to shut up about them."

But are Saskatoon anti-feminists missing the point entirely? Pamela Down, assistant professor with the gender studies department at the University of Saskatchewan, says it's more important to focus on all aspects of violence against all people – women, men, girls and boys, et al.

"I don't think that the poster campaigns, from the samples that I have seen, are advancing that cause in any particular way," said Downe. "Of course we need to be attending to the men who are victims of violence. I don't know anyone who says we shouldn't be. I just think that we need to do that in a constructive way."

So far, it appears not all Saskatonians are thrilled with having the manly message posted on their streets.

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According to a report in the Saskatoon newspaper the Star Phoenix, several of the men's rights posters have already been torn down. The paper's e-mail interview request to A Voice for Men regarding the removed posters received no response.

What's your take on the poster campaigns in Edmonton and Saskatoon? Do the men's rights groups have a point, or is it just another case of wildly misguided machismo? Is it astounding that we're even debating such matters in 2013?

What do you think?

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