Panel discussion involving #MeToo critic is cancelled by university

A discussion on gender equality from a male perspective, which included Swedish writer and musician Alexander Bard, was cancelled by Åbo Akademi University in Turku. 

Tabatha Leggett
Tabatha Leggett NewsMavens, Finland
Panel discussion involving #MeToo critic is cancelled by university - NewsMavens
Alexander Bard, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

In the UK, MP Jo Johnson has called on universities to avoid cancelling planned events because of student opposition. Similarly, in the US, banning individuals from expressing their opinions at universities has become a major topic of debate; some think it limits freedom of speech while others think it legitimizes harmful opinions.

The Åbo Akademi University case demonstrates that this debate is also relevant in Finland. A panel discussion called "Gender equality from men's perspective -- provocatively self-evident?" that was due to take place at the Swedish-language Åbo Akademi University in Turku, was cancelled at the last minute.

The event was set to include Swedish writer and musician Alexander Bard, who has questioned women's accounts of rape and criticized the #MeToo movement on Twitter.

Details from the story:

  • The debate was met with opposition from both students and staff, and it was cancelled after 30 staff members signed a document in protest of the event taking place on university premises 
  • Mikko Hupa, the university principal, cancelled the event on the grounds that the discussion was not based on scientific debate, but rather on degrading opinions
  • However, Johan Nyman, who co-organized the event, insists that it was not intended to be critical of #MeToo, but rather to prompt discussion about gender equality 
  • The debate was renamed "Gender equality from men's perspective" and took place away from the university on International Men's Day. It was broadcast on by Yle Svenska.
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