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Is A Voice for Men using phony death threats as an excuse to smear feminists and raise a quick $25k? Here’s what we DON’T know so far. [UPDATE: Hotel still not talking]

Adjusted for inflation, those 5 cent fears are now worth $25,000
Adjusted for inflation, those 5 cent fears are now worth $25,000

Is A Voice for Men using phony “death threats” allegedly directed at those planning to attend its upcoming “Men’s Issues” conference in Detroit, as well as upon employees and guests of the hotel where it’s scheduled to be held, as an excuse to smear feminists and raise a quick $25,000 in donations from readers and possibly even from a handful of gullible feminists?

As incredible as that sounds, that’s what some people I respect are saying. Despite AVFM’s history of lying about alleged feminist threats – you may recall John Hembling’s infamous confrontation with an imaginary mob of 20-30 feminists brandishing boxcutters – I’m not willing to go that far.

But there’s a lot about the story that makes no sense, and some big questions that need convincing answers.

1) The Doubletree Fort Shelby hotel has not confirmed that the letter Paul Elam posted on his site several days ago, and which he has now removed, actually came from them. The letter is, so far, the only evidence that there were any threats.

Hotel management needs to confirm whether or not they sent this letter to Elam.

2) Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press spoke to Detroit Police spokesman Adam Madera, who told them that the police had not received any reports of death threats from the hotel. He told both papers that hotel staff had asked about hiring off-duty officers for security but hadn’t specified why.

Hotel management needs to confirm either that 1) they got death threats and didn’t report them or 2) that they got no such threats. They should also confirm whether their calls about off-duty police officers were related to the “Men’s Issues” conference.

There are a few other clues that support the “hoax” theory, though they’re far from definitive:

Several people who have allegedly contacted the hotel to ask about the threat say that the managers they spoke to knew nothing about the threats. Even if these reports are true, this may not be significant; managers may not have been told about threats related to a conference many weeks off.

The Detroit News also spoke to the owner of the hotel, and he said he was unaware of any threats. That may not be significant either; he may simply be out of the loop.

Essentially, we’re waiting for the Doubletree Fort Shelby management to answer these questions. If you look at the news coverage so far you’ll notice that the hotel staffers who can answer these questions don’t seem to be answering their phones or returning calls. I left a message for them today as well. No reply yet.

The other bits of evidence we’re waiting for? Well, the letter Elam claims he got from hotel management says that he and the other conference organizers need to send the hotel proof that they’ve hired the required number of Detroit police officers to handle security, as well as proof that they have also paid for at least $2 million in liability insurance. They have to have this done by the 6th.

In light of all the questions still swirling around, I think people are going to want to see this proof too.

It may be that the hotel comes forward and confirms that the letter was real, that the threats were real, and that indeed A Voice for Men does have to shell out $25,000 for extra security. It may even be the case that it was a feminist or a group of feminists making the threats. But we don’t know. And right now the people who do know are either not talking — or they have pretty much no credibility. Let’s hope the silence ends soon, because there’s no way the not-so-good folks at AVFM are suddenly going to turn credible overnight.

EDIT: I toned down some of the language, which I think was detracting from my main points, and added a new final paragraph.

EDIT 2:  Removed some speculation. We’ll know some of the answers soon enough; no need to speculate.


So I’ve heard back from Atiya Frederick, the PR Manager for Embassy Suites Hotels & DoubleTree, and she’s made clear that the hotel won’t be answering specific questions about any of this just yet. Here’s what she sent me.

At this time we are confining our comments on this matter to the below statement …

Hilton Worldwide strives to operate meeting places for people from all walks of life, regardless of beliefs, race, color, national origin, religion or sexual orientation. The views of our guests do not reflect the sentiment of Hilton Worldwide. As places of public accommodation, our hotels do not discriminate against any individual or group. Our goal is to provide quality accommodations and a pleasant environment for our guests, employees and members of our community . We would like to emphasize that we strive to be an inclusive company and regret if this policy has unintentionally offended any individual or organization. 

This statement seems to be their standard response when they host a conference by a controversial group.

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8 years ago

I started gaming on a 286 – Kings Quest, Moraffs World, a few text adventures that weren’t Zork. I don’t play much now, both because my computer fell off the bleeding edge a few years ago and because first person anything makes me want to puke. And I’m old enough to still call it ‘Doom – induced motion sickness.’ Shooters and stealth have never been the be all and end all of gaming, and trying to make such a claim kinda makes you look like an ass.

8 years ago

I started on workstations. I also did text-based games on CPM systems… etc..

8 years ago

Well, I play Freecell, Tetris (oh for the days of Welltris) and Stack the Cats. So there. 😛

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

They are sorta protected, his sister made nice heavy brocade curtains for the room, so they get no sunlight, and they’re pretty much never used. Not to mention that despite the house having “eh, just go for the most expensive” air filters (allergies), he turns them off when I smoke directly under a fan on the complete opposite side of the house. Excepting the bedroom, because Victorian era bed frames can handle smoke and dust and such, the house is basically a museum.

The microwave? I got him to concede it wouldn’t be too bad, he guessed he could live with one, and my mother then went “want me to buy a microwave before he changes his mind?” I spend 50%+ of my time there, so it was a sorta housewarming gift from her.

I have far more stereograph slides though, which I think are way cooler than a Victorian couch (it’s a couch, you sit on it, modern ones are far more comfy for actual USE)

But yeah, covering the old stuff would basically mean putting a fumigation tent over the house!

8 years ago

I think what they’re trying to say with that picture is that feminism is like a sewer. You know, it takes all the awful, revolting things and deals with them. It allows us to live our lives without getting buried under mountains of shit, even though the stuff just won’t stop coming. It allows us to do simple but necessary things without needing to worry about some of the more egregious ills of history or extreme poverty. It makes the comfort of modern life in the first world possible.
Yep, feminism is a lot like a sewer.

Sewers: They’re a good thing. (And isn’t it funny that MRAs don’t seem to recognise that?)

8 years ago

Athywren, that is a beautiful ode to sewers. It almost makes me want to hug one, but I don’t know how I’d go about it.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Grumpycatisagirl — find a sewer map and hug that?

And yes, sewers are an absolutely vital part of avoiding things like cholera (today’s second random fact — a couple of the strains can kill in a matter of hours)

8 years ago

MRAs, just longing to live in London before Bazalgette did his thing.

Now if only we could send ’em there.

Argenti, are those couches stuffed with horsehair? Never heard that stuff was comfortable at all.

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