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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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pallygirl
pallygirl
8 years ago

Just picking up on this one piece of the Auntie Alias quote from AVfM website:

For that reason, ANYONE sitting around trash-talking women, men, making violent statements, even jokingly, will be brought to the attention of security who will issue ONE warning (or less). After that, they will be directed by security to leave. There are no exceptions.

How sweet. So while commenters on their sites are routinely encouraged to do this (e.g. through reinforcing replies and upvotes), just don’t do it at the conference.

If they’re having to issue instructions to get people to change their normal behaviour, which is otherwise actively reinforced, maybe they should fucking look at whether that behaviour should exist at all.

Catalpa
Catalpa
8 years ago

Would you have a racist speak at your conference if he or she supported your position on some other issue?

Considering MRA’s track record and regular crossover with white supremacists, I really wouldn’t be surprised if many of the speakers at the conference are racists as well…

Children of the Broccoli
Children of the Broccoli
8 years ago

A serious question for Matheus, or any MRAs who care to respond: If a prominent feminist (say Jessica Valenti or Jill Filipovic) wanted to speak at the conference about a topic they agreed with you on (like cultural attitudes towards male rape survivors), would you be OK with that?

pallygirl
pallygirl
8 years ago

Possibly TMI from me here, I’m not interested in anal sex either, but no way would I use that as a reason to stop others from participating in an activity they enjoy. I don’t like aubergines either, by this logic I would be justified in trying to get them banned and arresting farmers as aubergine pushers.

I absolutely hate the way that a number of our societies are so pigheaded ignorant when it comes to matters sexual, yet see very little problem with encouraging violence (e.g. compare the level of violence versus the level of sex permitted in PG or M rated movies). In the interests of full disclosure, I am a pro-pornography* feminist.

*I have issues with certain areas of pornography, but not against pornography generally.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
8 years ago

Behold, my campaign to stop the world from eating durian! I mean, I don’t like it, so why should it exist?

These people are idiots.

thebewilderness
thebewilderness
8 years ago

I don’t suppose it crosses their mind that any journalist who wanted to make them look bad by quoting their words could simply read their comment threads and quote them from that, eh?

Lady Mondegreen
8 years ago

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

brooked, I’m with you. My reaction to this was, Wut? What is “the salve that heals” gay men? Regarding men as human beings? How does that heal the ravages of homophobia?

AVfM. The first to provide vacuous sound-bites in response to serious social problems!

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
8 years ago

Also, if you selectively quote only the bad stuff then that is putting a spin on the event, but if the bad stuff is 90% of what people are saying and any reporters present report it as such then they’re just, you know, reporting. MRAs seem to have an ongoing issue where they believe that reporting exactly what they say/do is spin doctoring, and, um, no.

thebewilderness
thebewilderness
8 years ago

It is the Newt Gingrich retort. Anyone who quotes me is lying.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
8 years ago

Right, I’m sure the AVFM crowd will be able to self-police their own misogyny. Because they are very self aware and know how they sound to outsiders.

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

So basically the only reason why they’re trying to stop people from sitting around talking shit about women is because they’re worried that it might be used against them, and they already know that’s inevitably going to happen, hence the warning?

Took the words right out of my mouth (or keyboard?). They know that misogyny is a feature not a bug in their sad little movement but they also know they have to feign innocence if any media is around.

I wonder how many rule violators there will be? Especially if they start drinking. I’m having a hard time believing the actual speakers will be able to follow the no trashing women out loud rule though. Especially if one of the speeches is about rape accusations.

Matheus
Matheus
8 years ago

What kind of official statement you want? A blog post at AVfM? A prominent MRA (Janet Bloomfield) already made it clear that she disagrees with the anti-gay agenda. Many others have also said that in the past. And just because most of us don’t agree with Cools on this aspect, it doesn’t mean that none of her opinions are worth listening to.

For the record, I’m gay, too. I also don’t hate women (and, no, disagreeing with feminists doesn’t qualify as misogyny).

“A serious question for Matheus, or any MRAs who care to respond: If a prominent feminist (say Jessica Valenti or Jill Filipovic) wanted to speak at the conference about a topic they agreed with you on (like cultural attitudes towards male rape survivors), would you be OK with that?”

Actually, yes, we would. And we wouldn’t mind having people who disagree with us speak, either, as long as they don’t try to silence us, like so many have before.

Now, a question for the ones who take David Futrelle seriously: he loves to talk about the so called “misogyny” in the MHRM, treating satire and comments made by random individuals as serious representatives of the movement’s opinions, but why doesn’t he treat the far more hateful comments left by many feminists with the same standards? Here’s some context: http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/is-david-futrelle-covering-for-violent-feminists/

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

@zoon echon logon

Right, I’m sure the AVFM crowd will be able to self-police their own misogyny. Because they are very self aware and know how they sound to outsiders.

Sure, they may sound extreme to some, but that’s only because the majority of people are either poodle manginas or pussy-pass trading, bon-bon eating child stealers.

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

Now, a question for the ones who take David Futrelle seriously: he loves to talk about the so called “misogyny” in the MHRM, treating satire and comments made by random individuals as serious representatives of the movement’s opinions, but why doesn’t he treat the far more hateful comments left by many feminists with the same standards?

Oh look. Another MRA who doesn’t understand what satire means.

GrumpyOldMan
8 years ago

“if you hear anyone saying anything that can be used against us, or that makes our gathering toxic”
So does this mean they’re going to sit around in total silence, I hope, I hope? No? Oh, shit!

On sex vs violence: Thirty years ago I walked into my local grocery store, and the cover of a “True Crime” magazine caught my eye. It was a beautiful girl in a bikini lying on a bed, with a pile of what looked like bloody animal intestines on her stomach, with a sinister-looking man bending over her with a blood-dripping dagger in his hand. Obviously it was meant to imply that the man had disemboweled her. This was at a level on the magazine rack where is could easily be examined by children. I called over the manager and he agreed that it was inappropriate for his store and took it off the rack, commenting that it had probably been there for a few days and I was the first to complain.
But if the girl had been shown topless — or even with one nipple peeking out — I’ll bet he would have heard about it very promptly.

Matheus
Matheus
8 years ago

“Oh look. Another MRA who doesn’t understand what satire means.”

I do understand what it means, and you didn’t answer the question.

kittehserf
8 years ago

::snort:: another MRA who’s dumb as a box of rocks. I am shocked, shocked I say.

Matheus
Matheus
8 years ago

Another idiot who can’t answer a simple question.

Children of the Broccoli
Children of the Broccoli
8 years ago

You can’t say that David’s only reporting on fringe members of the MRM when so much of what he posts is from major MRAs like JB, Paul Elam, and Warren Farrell. Or are you saying that every awful thing they’ve said is “satire”, including everything in The Myth of Male Power?

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

Matheus,
Are you sure you understand what satire means? It’s not a synonym for ‘joke’ or ‘hyperbole.’

sat·ire
[sat-ahyuhr]

noun
1.
the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

2.
a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.

3.
a literary genre comprising such compositions.

——————————————————————————–

Origin:
1500–10; < Latin satira, variant of satura medley, perhaps feminine derivative of satur sated (see saturate)

Related forms
non·sat·ire, noun

Can be confused: 1. burlesque, caricature, cartoon, parody, satire (see synonym study at burlesque)(see synonym study at the current entry) ; 2. satire, satyr.

Synonyms
1. See irony1 . 2, 3. burlesque, caricature, parody, travesty. Satire, lampoon refer to literary forms in which vices or follies are ridiculed. Satire the general term, often emphasizes the weakness more than the weak person, and usually implies moral judgment and corrective purpose: Swift's satire of human pettiness and bestiality. Lampoon refers to a form of satire, often political or personal, characterized by the malice or virulence of its attack: lampoons of the leading political figures.

Copypasta from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/satire

Since AVFM is an anti-feminist group, things like Elam’s “bash a violent b*tch month” can’t be satire. Because it was targeted at feminists. He can claim it was a joke. He can claim it was hyperbole. Satire it isn’t.

Stop trying to claim everything offensive an MRA says is satire. It’s a bullshit cop out. Paul Elam is no Stephen Colbert. If he’s trying satire, he’s failing miserably and should stop because it’s making him look even worse than he otherwise would.

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

I would just be tickled if you could give us an example of satire from AVFM that we have taken literally, and let us know 1) what it’s satirizing and 2) what its real message is.

wewereemergencies
wewereemergencies
8 years ago

Matheus maybe you should ask David rather than us because we are actually not him? Actually don’t do that he doesn’t deserve to be exposed to your stupidity.

Matheus
Matheus
8 years ago

You still didn’t answer the fucking question, and I’m starting to guess that none of you have the intellectual honesty (or capacity) for it. Read the link I provided. How is anything said in AVfM worse than what the feminists referred to in the link have said?

And I haven’t read The Myth of Male Power, so I don’t know what’s so terrible about it.

Kim
Kim
8 years ago

I was listening to the “We Hate Movies” podcast about the movie Swordfish this morning. They quoted Travolta as saying “Soon you’ll be on a yacht with your daughter, eating bonbons” which Travolta’s character seems to think is the American dream.

Co-incidence?

Matheus
Matheus
8 years ago

“Since AVFM is an anti-feminist group, things like Elam’s “bash a violent b*tch month” can’t be satire. Because it was targeted at feminists. He can claim it was a joke. He can claim it was hyperbole. Satire it isn’t.”

The link covers that. “Bash a violent b*tch month” is a response to a Jezebel article called “Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend? Cause, Uh, We Have”: http://jezebel.com/294383/have-you-ever-beat-up-a-boyfriend-cause-uh-we-have

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