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Why is A Voice for Men giving a platform to one of Canada’s leading opponents of gay and lesbian rights? [UPDATED with AVFM response]

 

Gay marriage isn't a men's right, according to AVFM conference speaker Anne Cools
Gay marriage isn’t a men’s right, according to AVFM conference speaker Anne Cools

A Voice for Men likes to present itself as a voice for gay men as well as straight ones. In a recent post, site founder and chief fulminator Paul Elam declared that

We regard men as human beings, regardless of their sexuality. And most of us feel that this is the salve that heals what has in recent history been inflicted on gay men.

No mention of lesbians, but of course they’re women, and Elam does not seem to like women very much.

AVFM managing editor Dean Esmay, meanwhile, likes to present himself as a champion not only of gay men but of lesbians as well, boasting in one recent tweet that “I have been lesbian-supporting since the ’80s.”

So why is AVFM giving a platform to one of Canada’s most influential opponents of same-sex marriage  — and gay and lesbian rights in general?

Canadian Senator Anne Cools, one of the scheduled speakers at AVFM’s upcoming “Men’s Issues” conference in Detroit, has been a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage for decades.

Her objection? That only heterosexual marriage deserves legal protection because gay people can’t make babies – at least not with each other – thus making their interest in sex all about lust.

In a speech before the Canadian senate, she argued that

The public interest in marriage is reproduction, the continuation of the species, the offspring. There is no public interest in sex or the gratification of sexual impulses for their own sake. …

[L]ust, like all human passions, is not to be trusted. Lust and sex on their own have no public character and contain no public interest or public good. Marriage is about man and woman in a peculiar act of bringing forth offspring.

Never mind that plenty of stright couples don’t, or can’t, have kids. Or that some trans men can.

She’s not simply an opponent of same-sex marriage. Cools has consistently opposed other legislation designed to afford gays and lesbians the same basic rights as straight people — and the same legal protections as other victims of bigotry and discrimination.

She opposed adding “sexual orientation” to hate speech legislation, warning that doing so would expose “millions of Canadians…who hold moral opinions about sexuality, to criminal prosecution.” (Needless to say, the passage of the bill in question did not lead to millions of Canadians being rounded up and arrested.)

She also worried that adding “sexual orientation” to hate speech legislation would somehow – I don’t quite understand the logic – encourage the “depathologizing the paraphilias” and ultimately lead to children being “seduced” into dangerous sexual activities. Here’s her argument:

The fact of the matter is, honourable senators, that we discourage children from smoking cigarettes because tobacco is harmful. I would submit that we are talking about some sexual activities that are dangerous and life-threatening. The committee should have the moral courage to hear something of it. I have lost a lot of beloved friends to a variety of these conditions. I have made it my business to instruct myself. That is the first question. You can think about that.

Ms. Landolt, your concern that the term “sexual orientation” is so wide as to involve a wide range of sexual behaviours is well founded. I would like to put on the record here for this committee a document called the Journal of Homosexuality, particularly, volume 20 in 1990. The subject of the entire volume is pedophilia and male intergenerational intimacy, historical, social, psychological and legal perspectives. If you were to open up this text, the foreword is the debate on pedophilia, and the second article is “Man-Boy Relationships: Different Concepts for a Diversity of Phenomena.” It continues with “Pederasty Among Primitives and Institutionalized Initiation.”

She continued:

I want to know about these children out there and the impact that this is having on them, and, in addition to that, all of these children who are being seduced at youthful ages and who are discovering what is happening to them two or three years later. I have done a lot of counselling. I would like to get a greater picture of the problems out there for children on these grounds, because this sexual orientation debate is going on here as though children do not exist.

She also tried to raise the question of “the medical consequences to individuals who involve themselves in activities such as ‘rimming,’ … sado-masochism and so on.”

In explaining her opposition to adding sexual orientation ito the Canadian Human Rights Act, she offered a similar “slippery slope” argument:

The concern is that pederasts and paedophiles will advance claims to engage in adult/child sexual relationships as a matter of human rights; that claims will be advanced on the legal grounds that pederasty and paedophilia are sexual orientations having entitlements.

For more on her various backwards views, as well as the source of that last quote, see here.

On Twitter, I asked Esmay to explain why AVFM is providing a platform for a woman who opposes same-sex marriage. He hasn’t replied.

Another curious Twitterer asked the same question of Janet Bloomfield, the official spokeswoman for the upcoming AVFM conference. She handled the question with her usual (lack of) aplomb.

Alex McKenzie ‏@anArchaeopteryx 3h  @JudgyBitch1 The issue here is that there's a speaker at your conference who is against the rights of gay men. And you're PR, so I ask why.      Reply     Retweet     Favorite  JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 3h  @anArchaeopteryx Her views on shared custody are more relevant. We include a diverse array of speakers with different views @avoiceformen      Reply     Retweet     1 Favorite  Alex McKenzie ‏@anArchaeopteryx 3h  @JudgyBitch1 at a conference for <<men>>      Reply     Retweet     Favorite  JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 3h  @anArchaeopteryx That is not for you to decide @AVoiceForMen @deanesmay Discussion closed. Further tweets will be considered harassment

Apparently AVFM’s much vaunted “compassion for men and boys” doesn’t apply to gay men who want the same basic rights as straight men.

For more on AVFM’s tolerance of homophobia – and Elam’s notorious attack on one trans women, see here.

EDIT: After I put this post up, I decided to see if I might have better luck at getting answers from Bloomfield on Twitter. The conversation went about as well as could be expected. Remember, Bloomfield is AVFM’s offical “social media” spokeswoman for the conference.

 David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle  @JudgyBitch1 Why is AVFM providing a platform for one of Canada's most influential opposents of gay rights? http://wp.me/p17cYK-3bW       Reply     Delete     Favorite  12:23 PM - 19 Jun 2014 Tweet text Reply to @JudgyBitch1       JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 20m      @DavidFutrelle Because she also one of Canada's most influential supporters of children and father's rights after divorce.     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 19m      @JudgyBitch1 So the fact that she's been actively campaigning against gay and lesbian rights for decades doesn't bother you at all?     Details         Reply         Retweet         1 Favorite         Delete     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 15m      @DavidFutrelle I vigorously denounce the anti-gay rights agenda. I don't have to agree with 100% of her beliefs. She cares for men and boys     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 13m      @JudgyBitch1 If you denounce her agenda, will you publicly denounce her for pushing this agenda? If not, why not?     Details         Reply         Retweet         1 Favorite         Delete     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 11m      @JudgyBitch1 If you don't want to be seen as endorsing her agenda, put out a statement explicitly denouncing her for supporting this agenda     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite         Delete     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 11m      @DavidFutrelle You think Twitter is private? Of course I would, I know how to criticize respectfully. Don't always choose to though.     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 10m      @JudgyBitch1 Is she being paid for speaking at your conference, or being provided with lodging, transportation expenses, and so on?     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite         Delete     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 9m      @DavidFutrelle None of your business @avoiceformen @deanesmay     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 9m      @DavidFutrelle You do not get a say.     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 9m      @JudgyBitch1 Well, let's hear you specifically, and officially, repudiate her for supporting a bigoted agenda.     Details         Reply         Retweet         1 Favorite         Delete     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 8m      @DavidFutrelle I do not take orders from you. I don't take orders from anyone, actually.     Details         Reply         Retweet         Favorite     David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 7m      @JudgyBitch1 That's not the issue.The issue is whether AVFM supports Cools and her anti-gay agenda.If it doesn't, you should probably say so     Details         Reply         Retweet         1 Favorite         Delete     JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 6m      @DavidFutrelle This issue is closed. Any further tweets will be taken as harassment and you will be blocked.dfjb2dfjb3

I didn’t see her comment about harassment until after I tweeted a couple more times.

David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 15m  @JudgyBitch1 I'm not issuing orders.But if you don't want people to think AVFM supports her bigoted anti-gay agenda,you should repudiate her Details      Reply     Retweet     Favorite     Delete  David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 14m  @JudgyBitch1 Or at the very least issue a statement officially saying that AVFM opposes her anti-gay agenda. Details      Reply     Retweet     Favorite     Delete  JanetBloomfield ‏@JudgyBitch1 14m  @DavidFutrelle Go write a column about it, David. Get us even more press. We could use Canadian coverage. And good-bye. You were warned. Details      Reply     Retweet     Favorite  David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle 13m  @JudgyBitch1 Would you have a racist speak at your conference if he or she supported your position on some other issue?

Some more bang-up public relations work from Ms. Bloomfield here.

 

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WhatIsThisGravitasOfWhichYouSpeak
WhatIsThisGravitasOfWhichYouSpeak
7 years ago

@woodyred, Oh, and I suppose you feel the sources they link to within the article are also hysterically biased against your worldview? I suppose reality must conspire occasionally as well, considering you can find evidence of her rampant homophobia with a 5 second google search! How do you keep this denial up?!

Fibinachi
7 years ago

@woodyred

@Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III – Ive read up Warren Farrell. He is not what you people accuse him of. I admit I dont know much about Anne Cools – but I will look it up, yes. I suspect she is merely a traditionalist with regards to marriage. traditionalism and homosexuality rarely mix very well.

Sorry, but no. I’ve read The Myth of Male Power, Why Men Are The Way They Are and Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say because I like suffering and loathe myself enough to want to inflict constant memetic trauma on my brain I was curious.

Because I could not believe what I was reading and in part because I did not want to believe what I was reading, I also read up on him via interviews and AskMeAnything on reddit and archieves. I wasted an entire weekend trying to just fucking understand all that tremendous bullshit, and ever since, food doesn’t taste the same. The sun doesn’t warm me when it shines. Laughing children sound like nails running down a chalk board. I have seen the other side, I’ve come face to face with the underpinnings of MRA thought, and… and… it changed me. I feel hollow. There’s a keening void where my soul used to be. I’m on a strict diet of fluffy kitten pictures, fuzzy rabbits and adorable teddy bears just to be able to bear out living from day to day.

Warren Farrell espouses some terrible, terrible ideas. And anyone who can read his works without seeing it, or take him seriously afterwards? That’s one hell of a heuristic for automatically dismissing their opinion on anything.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

if you think Im gonna label someone a homophobe based on one of his articles – youve got another thing coming.

…so you could click through and go read some of HER articles.

And, seriously, why is it so hard to grant that somebody might be a homophobe and also in favor of fathers getting custody? Her schtick is ‘parents need a mother and a father;’ her homophobia informs exactly what kind of custody for fathers she is in favor of. It’s a piece of one philosophy. This is not exactly outlandish.

Do you not know any homophobes personally?

woodyred
woodyred
7 years ago

@ David Futrelle – “You don’t have to take my word for it.” – haha ! dont worry, I wont.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

@woodyred

…so practice what you preach and go do some reading, son.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Seriously. I don’t mind a little skepticism, but when we’re turning it up to 11 and doubting things that were read into the public record on the floor of Canada’s legislative body…

Your hyper-skepticism has passed into motivated reasoning.

cloudiah
7 years ago

But perhaps David has somehow hacked Cools’ web page, and infiltrated the highest reaches of Canadian government. You can never be too sure!

Woody is just following the reasoning of the US Supreme Court. The effects of both laws and how they are administered may disproportionately reflect racist biases (see for example the way black defendants who kill white defendants are way more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants who kill black defendants), but unless the prosecutor, judge, and jury actually state on the record “We are taking this actions because we hate black people and want them to die” that is not evidence of racism.

Although in this case, Cools kind of HAS said she is taking these positions because she thinks queer folks are hateful sinners and she wants them to disappear. Therefore, see my first two sentences above! Woody can find a way to rationalize away anything to be able to support his favorite group of bigots and harassers.

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
7 years ago

@ woodyred – Once again, why Cools opposes gay marriage is irrelevant. She seeks — from her position as a sSenator no less — to make life more difficult for a LGBT people. I don’t know why she thinks this is a good idea. I don’t care why she thinks this is a good idea. Whether she attempts to make life more difficult for a group of people because of her religious outlook, her regard for ‘tradition’ or some other reason doesn’t interest me.

Now, many of the people that Cools is willing to fuck over are not men. I know better than to expect you or any MRA to give even a fraction of a crap about that. But many of Cools’ targets are men. You know, the people your ridiculous movement is supposed to be in favour of. Remember? So my question is why is a movement supposedly devoted to improving the situation of men okay with someone who is willing to fuck over a subset of the male population?

This is the question that was put to JB, and which she refused to answer. This is the question I put to you, and you refuse to answer. Why was someone who opposes the rights of a significant number of men invited to speak at a men’s rights conference? What does that say about AVfM’s commitment to the rights of men?

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Your hyper-skepticism has passed into motivated reasoning.

This is, by the by, an extremely useful sentence, one I read back to myself on occasion when dealing with inconvenient facts. Because trying to understand facts and deal with reality as it is can be hard, and sometimes you just have to try to accept things that are difficult to reconcile with your worldview. Sometimes the facts don’t fit what you think you know, and you have to accept that maybe you were wrong.

It’s important to understand that you will always be resistant to this. That it’s easier to believe that you were right and this new information is wrong. Every time.

Only by accepting that can you begin to deal with the world as it is and not as you wish it could be.

Saphy
Saphy
7 years ago

Wasn’t Woody banhammered already? Or was that a different troll?

woodyred
woodyred
7 years ago

@ Saphy – Ive only been here two other times. I got ganged up on last time and retreated.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Fibi, I don’t give Farrell that much benefit of the doubt.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
7 years ago

I really need to learn to refresh the page before posting. Oh, well.

Anyway, @woodyred: I think you’re just as confused about intersectionality as most MRAs. Social issues like homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and racism don’t occur in a vacuum. They are all part of a larger societal pattern that caters to the cishet white man, which is why AVFM and the MRM in general is largely comprised of straight white cis men. They are not for progress, but for a return to less equal times, which is why FeMRAs and non-white, non-straight. non-cis MRAs are really shooting themselves in the foot by working with these jackasses.

For the record, I’m a white cishet dude from a relatively privileged background. I was raised in a religious, traditionalist, homophobic, gender essentialist environment. If I, of all people, can see that the MRM worldview is full of shit, then so can anyone.

@Fibinachi:

Warren Farrell espouses some terrible, terrible ideas. And anyone who can read his works without seeing it, or take him seriously afterwards? That’s one hell of a heuristic for automatically dismissing their opinion on anything.

THIS. As a fellow self-loather who has subjected their fragile human psyche to the horrors that lie beyond the veil, I feel for you, dearest fellow learner of the disturbing and macabre. In terms of pure entitlement and disregard for all that is good, true and beautiful in this world, The Myth of Male Power makes the Necronomicon look like a toddler’s picture book. If you don’t feel nauseous while reading it, you likely possess no empathy. Before I read WTF’s ideas, I genuinely thought that “evil” was how we define it, and not a real, existing force that delights in the pain and suffering of others.

Truly, I am a believer now. I cannot go on for much longer, knowing that happiness and basic humanity are lost in the oceans of selfishness, narcissism, and complete disregard for people who do not fit the norm. At nights, I keep my door closed, play the sounds of feminist harps and stare at the giant poster of the fluffiest kitten in the world on my wall, until I fall into a restless sleep full of nightmares and strange apparitions. For in those dark hours before sunrise, before the light of the day drives away the horrors of the half-awake state, I can still hear the agonized voices of all the women, children and men hurt by those who believe in Farrell’s thoughts, and above that, in the mists of privilege, I can hear the screeching, cacophonic voices of the sinister souls filled with entitlement, singing in a dark unison that would swallow the world if they weren’t too inept to organize a housewarming party: “Iä! Iä! Mhrm fhtagn!”

I kid. Sort of.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Two other times, under what names? Sockpuppetting, are you?

kittehserf
7 years ago

stare at the giant poster of the fluffiest kitten in the world on my wall

Like this, you mean?

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
7 years ago

@Anarchonist:

I’m a white cishet dude from a relatively privileged background

From a socially privileged background. As in, “has class privilege on top of everything else.” Otherwise, redundant phrase is redundant.

Go home, Anarchonist, you’re drunk.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
7 years ago

@kittehserf:

😀

woodyred
woodyred
7 years ago

anyway – to summarise my position on this article : Anne Cools will be speaking at this event on a topic which AVFM feels she has a valuable insight into. Shes not speaking about gay marriage – I dont know her position on gay marriage – but I will look it up.

and thats the long and short of it, manboobz. dont make it sound like theyve invited some KKK member to speak – they’ve invited a senator to speak on a certain topic. thats all.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

@woodyred

dont make it sound like theyve invited some KKK member to speak – they’ve invited a senator to speak on a certain topic.

…what’s the difference?

In all seriousness.

What exactly is the difference between her efforts to keep some members of society from equal protection of the law and the KKKs efforts to keep some members of society from equal protection of the law?

woodyred
woodyred
7 years ago

@kittehserf – I am always Woody + colour. I was almost certainly red when Ive been here. I only have one account on any forum I engage in.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

(not that I’m leaping in to go all Oppression Olympics here… but that’s a derailing tactic, saying ‘well, she doesn’t discriminate as much as THESE GUYS that we would DEFINITELY NOT INVITE TO THE CONFERENCE*’)

*(wouldn’t they invite white supremacists? Seriously, now)

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Yeah, there was another Woody here a few weeks back, but I’m pretty sure they’re not the same Woody. Unless they’re both Steele/MRAL, experimenting with new speech patterns.

woodyred
woodyred
7 years ago

@ Howard Bannister – I think to compare a black senator to a KKK member is somewhat obtuse, no ?

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
7 years ago

@ woodyred — You mean you engaged in this forum? I must have missed it.

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