a voice for men GirlWritesWhat johntheother paul elam TyphonBlue

I created Paul Elam, and now I need your help to rein him in


The jig is up. I and my collaborators have kept it secret for a long time now, but for reasons I will explain in a moment, I feel I need to come clean about this now, before it is too late:

I created Paul Elam.

That is: “Paul Elam” is a character created and developed by me and my friend Paul Henderson, an amazing improvisatory actor who has taken on the task of playing “Elam” in YouTube Videos, radio shows, and on a few occasions in the real world as well.

I first came up with the character of “Paul Elam” — “Elam” is just “male” spelled backwards — some seven years ago after reading Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power and wondering what an updated version of Farrell would look like today as a YouTube ranter. I brought the idea to my friend Paul Henderson, a feminist comedian who was already doing an “angry white man” character in his comedy act.

After a bit of workshopping, we created “Paul Elam” and his “Happy Misogynist” YouTube channel. I wrote the scripts, and Henderson read them out. As time went on and as Henderson got more into his new alter ego, he began adding bits of dialogue of his own. Sometimes when he got too deep into his character of “Paul Elam” he started to scare me a little.

After some success on YouTube and at Men’s News Daily, we decided to set up A Voice for Men. Shortly afterwards I set up Man Boobz, mainly as a way to promote AVFM and generate traffic for “Elam’s” site.

Since then, things have just snowballed. Henderson put me in touch with an amazing group of Canadian improv comedians called the Pouteenagers and the characters of Girl Writes What, John The Other, Typhon Blue, and DannyBoy were born.

Not all of those at AVFM are in on the gag. Dean Esmay for example, is completely sincere, as are most of the recent additions to the AVFM roster.

Up until about a month ago, the whole “Paul Elam”/A Voice for Men project seemed to be going swimmingly, generating buzz — and even a good deal of cash, much of which we have been donating to an assortment of feminist charities.

We kept piling absurdity on absurdity — like adding “human” to “men’s rights activist” to become “men’s human rights activist” — but no one ever guessed that it was all an elaborate prank! We were prepared to let the whole thing run for at least another year, getting sillier and sillier, before fessing up in a joint press conference with me and “Elam.”

But something terrible seems to have happened to my old friend Paul Henderson. After 7 years of playing “Paul Elam,” he seems to have become lost in the character he and I have created. Paul Henderson, in other words, has become Paul Elam.

He used to joke with April Fulieu, our makeup wiz, about how horrified he was each time he looked in the mirror and saw “Elam” staring back at him. But after we shot the last video with him he refused to let April take the makeup off, and when she went to tell me about this he fled out the back door of the studio.

We haven’t heard from him since. At least not as Paul Henderson.

I’m not sure what to do. He’s changed all the passwords on the AVFM server, so I can’t shut it down from my end, and I haven’t been able to contact any of the Pouteenagers either. I worry they too may have gone over to the dark side as well.

I can only hope that by posting this I can give him the wake-up call he needs – or at least arouse enough suspicion that the “sincere” AVFMers will confront him and possibly jar him back to reality.

He’ll deny it all, of course.

But at some point his fake beard will fall off.

That’s what I’m counting on, really.

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Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
8 years ago

grumpycatisagirl, I can’t swear I said MRAs but it was that, MRM, or AVFM. Either way, she lied. I think it was about the Queen’s University feminist who was threatened and assaulted.

8 years ago

Barbara Kay is a Christina Hoff Sommers wannabe.

8 years ago

Oh, Ally, that is just sad. To be a wannabe is bad enough, but for that to be your ambition?

8 years ago

I feel kinda lucky. Though I definitely have had dealings with assholes like these, I feel like I’m barricaded by enough awesome men in my life to feel pretty well insulated. Between hubby, Falcon, and roomie, that alone has me pretty well secure. (And back in Boston, add a good three or four more who I socialized with on a regular basis.)

‘you’re social justice warriors’,

I’ve never gotten the use of ‘social justice warrior’ as a bad thing. It’s like, “You’re fighting for something you believe in and feel is important to humanity! YOU’RE TERRIBLE!” Come on, I get irritated by tumblr users who read one thing on privilege theory and decided they were enlightened too, but not because they’re social justice warriors. It’s because they’re STUPID.

8 years ago

weirwoodtreehugger | April 2, 2014 at 10:11 am

Normally I’m not one to bring out the “you’re too sensitive” argument because that’s all too often used to gaslight. This is one of the few times when it actually applies though.

It’s funny you should end by saying that, because from my perspective much of your post seemed to read like an exercise in gaslighting, in the way you ignored largely talked past the actual points I was making. For example, I pointed to one very specific part of Colbert’s act which looks very much like ‘punching down’ – his frequent use of slurs like ‘tr***y’ to use trans women as a living punch-line to any old joke on other unrelated topics. Please feel free to take a look at what results you find if you google stephen colbert transphobia and then come back and justify your blunt assertion that “He doesn’t punch down, he punches up.” As Viscaria pointed out this is simply not always true; in the current instance, he used a punch down on one racial group to counterpunch upwards for another.

This isn’t to say bigotry is a zero-sum-game – but as several others have pointed out there are multiple layers or aspects to Colbert’s satire that do not prevent it from being problematic and above criticism. I find it telling that much more energy is being devoted to defending Colbert than admitting that his approach involves problems of appropriation and misrepresentation. For a fifth layer of irony, some of the people who have counter-attacked on the “you’ve got to look at the joke in context!” aspect are unaware that the joke was represented devoid of context by The Comedy Central twitter account, which turned it into the most basic form of context-free racism.

Anyway, if you “do think some people are confused about Colbert does”, please do not include me amongst their number. I’m well aware of what he does, but it would be mistaken to think that if I’m not a fan then it must be because I don’t understand what he’s doing.

8 years ago

But Elam isn’t only a monster; he’s a fool, and deserves to be called out for that as well.

*standing ovation*

8 years ago

Elam is male backwards.

Oh god I’m an idiot.

8 years ago

It’s funny you should end by saying that, because from my perspective much of your post seemed to read like an exercise in gaslighting, in the way you ignored largely talked past the actual points I was making.

I thought gaslighting was making someone uncertain of their own perceptions, not disagreeing with them, which was what the majority of her post was about. However, using the ‘too sensitive’ at the end isn’t a simple disagreement; it – by itself – is gaslighting (note for future self: if it seems like it might sound like gaslighting or a slur, it probably is – avoid it).

Creepy Cupcake
8 years ago

Paul has a brilliant yang sanpaku going on there, just like he does in many of his pictures. The Chinese say that having white above the pupil of the eye (yang sanpaku) is a sign of mental imbalance and that a person is prone to fits of rage and wants control and power over people. Charles Manson had a yang sanpaku, so does that very menacing British chat show host Jeremy Kyle. I think there is some truth in the theory. Great April fools Dave.

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