The Alison Richard Building on Sidgwick Site, where Justice for Men and Boys is set to hold an eventWIKIMEDIA/Vysotsky

Content note: This article contains references to rape and shaming survivors.

An open letter, signed by over 240 people, is protesting an event scheduled to be held next month by the anti-feminist group ‘Justice for Men and Boys’ (J4MB) in the Alison Richard Building on Sidgwick Site. The open letter is addressed to vice chancellor Stephen Toope.

With the event being organised by J4MB for the 24th May, a description of the event on the group’s website reads: “I am pleased to announce a new strategy for J4MB, engaging with university students and academics, particularly those studying or teaching subjects close to our mission”.

The letter calls for the event to be cancelled, and failing that, asks for it to be “moved to a non-departmental University venue” so individuals can choose to be present at the time of the event. It argues that the event is not “in line with the values and mission of the University, especially our stated core value of “freedom from discrimination”.

In a statement to Varsity, one of the organisers of the petition reiterated the sentiments of the letter, stating, “None of us are free to think, speak and learn if we fear for our safety”, arguing that though the University “prides itself on its academic rigour… the ideas J4MB present simply do not comport with these high standards”.

The political group J4MB was established in 2013 by politician Michael Buchanan, who is set to speak at the event with Elizabeth Hobson, a self-proclaimed “Anti-feminist Gender Equality Activist”.

The group shares anti-feminist events and articles on its website, including an article titled “13 reasons women lie about being raped”, which is cited in the open letter.

The open letter accuses the group of characterising female academics as “corrupting” academia.

“Universities are the sources of much of the indoctrination [of students] who later (in positions of power and influence) assault the human rights of men and boys”. Buchanan expresses the belief that those studying Politics and History will “benefit greatly from being better informed about men’s issues and feminism”, with students from these disciplines being given preferential access to the event.

The open letter addressed to Stephen Toope was arranged by PhD students within the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), and it notes that the use of the Alison Richard Building was organised without “any consultation with members of the Department and is now scheduled to be held with overwhelming departmental opposition”. This attitude is reflected in the high number of faculty members who have signed the open letter, including four senior lecturers.

The group clearly states on the event description that they “do not imply an affiliation with the University of Cambridge or any of its departments”.

The letter also states that previously, J4MB has “engaged in harassment of members of the University, and there is a credible threat that members of the University will be subjected to further harassment”. In particular the group is noted as having harassed “students, members of staff, and societies at Cambridge, including [...] a number of Cambridge academics”.

“This event exposes these individuals and others to the risk of further intimidation and physical harm”.

The organisation have consistently targeted female scholars at Cambridge in articles written by Buchanan on their website.


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Mike Buchanan, the leader of J4MB, denied claims of harassment.

He also emphasised that “men and boys have, however, clearly been the victims of an ideological “gender war” fought against them over many years”, and further accused the Athena SWAN initiative as “by its very nature sexist against man, and anti-meritocratic” as an example of “feminist academics corrupting academia”.

The open letter said: “If the University allows the event to go forward on the Sidgwick Site, we would urge colleagues to relocate classes and other activities for that afternoon, both to ensure the safety of students and staff and to ensure that if J4MB come to this University, they are met with what their ideas and platform merits: an empty room.”

Dr. Aaron Rapport, lecturer in POLIS, confirms to Varsity as a faculty member in POLIS that “no one in the Department consented to or approved the J4MB event”. He emphasised that “POLIS doesn’t control who uses the Alison Richard Building. That is the choice of the University, and it is the University’s decision whether the event goes ahead.”

In 2017, Sidney Sussex drew criticism for its hosting of ‘Christian Concern’, a branch of the Wilberforce Academy, considered to be a homophobic pressure group, while a Varsity investigation found a number of other colleges to have hosted the group.

Corrections: The article was updated on Friday 26 April 11.11 to correct a misquote of "female academics" to "feminist academics", quoted in the open letter, and to clarify that the statement "If the University allows the event to go forward..." was quoted from the open letter.

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