The WoolyBumbleBattle continues.
A couple of weeks back, you may recall, the excitable antifeminist videoblogger who goes by the name of TheWoolyBumblebee got herself kicked out of the A Voice for Men clubhouse after annoying Paul Elam with her incessant (but actually pretty much justified) attacks on libertarians and Men Going Their Own Way.
Naturally, there has been much drama since then.
Elam, doing his best to affect a certain world-weariness about it all, put forth a video offering his take on the subject with the understated title “On Ideologues, Isms and Evangelical Atheists.”
TheWoolyBumblebee — real name Kristina Hansen — has made no attempts to hide her feelings. She’s started a new blog called Menticulture that seems to be devoted entirely to bashing A Voice for Men. And with her husband, she’s produced not one but seven videos lambasting AVFM, ranging in length from 38 seconds to an hour and twenty minutes. The long video, by the way, is a point-by-point response to Elam’s video; a number of the more recent videos are attacks on regular AVFM contributor Karen Straughan, aka Girl Writes What. Hansen’s husband has also done a couple of videos by himself as well.
I’ve actually listened to them all, for better or worse. They’re angry and rambling, and for the most part not worth the effort — unless you just really love schadenfreude. While some of their criticisms of AVFM are on the mark, the two go off on weird pedantic tangents and seem rather too obsessed with Girl Writes What’s lack of academic credentials. (She was evidently a two-time college dropout.) Hansen’s husband also likes calling people faggots. Lovely.
I had at least hoped for some good inside dirt on AVFM’s main characters, but the Hansens have got very little to tell that isn’t obvious from the outside: John “The Other” Hembling is a liar? Tell me something I don’t know. Elam is a tin-pot tyrant who likes to get his way? Gosh, who could have possibly guessed that?
But I suppose it’s to be expected: these two agree with the irrational antifeminism that’s at the heart of AVFM, so it’s hardly surprising that their critiques don’t go far enough, and that they get bogged down in lots of irrelevant issues.
Still, in a recent post on her blog, Hansen makes her arguments against AVFM a bit more cogently than she does in any of the videos.
After assuring readers that her attacks on A Voice for Men aren’t driven by “vengeance, hurt feelings, or a desire to one-up anyone” — not sure I’m buying all this — she charges the principals at AVFM of letting their ideological predilections get in the way of providing real practical help to men.
I suggested several things we could have done to help men, such as applying for funding for men’s services through VAWA and other Gov’t agencies, and was told that they would never touch government money because … it is against their libertarian principles, and because that is ‘what feminists do’….
I admit feminists have done a lot of harm to men and boys, but they have also done a lot of good for women and it is THAT part which we need to look at and study in order to be able to adequately assist men in any real way. It is called working the system. If you want change, that is where you go to do it, and not by sitting on the sidelines waiting for the government to collapse.
But AVFM, she notes, seems much less interested in making things better for men than in keeping men in a permanent state of rage:
[Elam] keeps men in a state of anger, and hopelessness. He perpetuates the victim narrative and tries to keep you stuck in victim mode. And he is not the only one. The inflammatory rhetoric used by those at AVFM, like John, are carefully written to get you emotionally worked up. I know this to be the case because I was on several SKYPE calls with John when he wrote many of his articles. I know how he does it and why. It’s to keep you in a state of anger and despair. …
Anyone working in the helping professions worth their salt will tell you that the goal of their work is to help their clients free themselves of the need for their help. … But what Paul, John, Karen, and others at AVFM do, is keep you in a state of constant anger, helplessness, and need. They do not want you to get better. And why would they? … The more you rely on them the more they profit.
I don’t agree with TheWoolyBumbleebee about much, but this is spot on.
She also has some very pointed things to say about AVFM’s attempts to blame the suicide of Earl Silverman, a Canadian activist for male victims of domestic violence, on feminism.
There are men out there at this very moment that are truly hurting and suffering. Let’s start showing them we really care by doing things that make a real difference in their lives. Enough of the useless sitting on the sidelines bitching about how evil women are, how the government needs to collapse, or how the only way to solve things is to opt out. This is why Earl Silverman died. John wants to blame feminism, but the fact is that the men that were close to Earl at the end knew that his despair was borne of the failure of the MRM to actually DO anything.
Again, she has a point. By its own accounts, A Voice for Men raises literally tens of thousands of dollars a year — a considerable portion of which, I imagine, must end up in the pockets of Elam, who seems to have no other visible means of financial support, and/or in the pockets of Hembling, who has recently been promoted to a paid staff position. After Silverman’s death, AVFM raised money to help start an Earl Silverman center — a project now ironically in the hands of Hansen herself. Why couldn’t AVFM have used some of its fundraising ability to help Silverman fund his domestic violence shelter back when he was alive?
In my next post I’ll look at Girl Writes What’s response to all this.