TO bands and brands pull of out "men's equality" fest
The brouhaha brewing around a music festival held by a group sympathetic to the men's rights movement has led the event's site, sponsors and performers to pull out of the event, leading to its cancellation. E-Day, which billed itself as a festival "celebrating social equality", was set to be held at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island Sunday, June 1. Indie acts like David Celia and Spookey Ruben were scheduled to play in the afternoon, with a number of sponsors - including locals Hogtown Brewers and corporate giants Kronenbourg and Jagermeister - supplying the booze.
On Wednesday, left-wing news site Rabble reported that the event had been put together by men's rights group Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE). The group has gained notoriety in recent months for working with strongly anti-feminist groups like the U.S.-based A Voice For Men and attempting to hold rallies and launch satellite groups on Canadian university campuses. (Among the issues they list in their Twitter bio: "misandry.")
Despite the festival's lengthy page calling for changes to child custody laws - a cause men's rights activists often point to as proof that social systems privilege women - references to CAFE, or the group's wider activities, are generally absent. That omission evidently also extended to musicians and sponsors. Musical duo Giraffe were first to announce they would "respectfully decline" their slot, saying they weren't aware the organizers' activities. "We feel that we were not fully informed about what it was that is being supported," Lynne Rafter wrote on Facebook. "Calling it a festival that celebrates 'equality' as opposed to 'men's equality' was intentionally misleading."
By Thursday afternoon, it appeared the festival had larger problems than bands dropping out: Artscape announced they would no longer be hosting the event, saying it contravened their policy against political events on the property. Hogtown Brewers pulled their support just half an hour later: "When we were approached, we were not aware of the true nature of (CAFE)," the brewery tweeted. "We would not have knowingly supported this cause. We are truly sorry."
The event's Facebook page has since vanished, and it remains to be seen whether the show will still go on. But now that little ambiguity remains about the festival's roots, it's tough to imagine an E-Day that could continue to slot itself without scrutiny among the city's summer music festivals.
blogTO pulled our event page for E-Day, which we had highlighted as a Top Pick in our events hub and Free Events posts, after a reader linked us to the post on Rabble today.
Photo of Artscape Gibraltar Point via Facebook.