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Prominent Men’s Rights Activist: Don’t you DARE call me an activist; I just like to pester feminists

Paul Elam: Aspires to be a thorn in the side of feminists

By David Futrelle

Men’s Rights “Activists” are the least activist activists I’ve ever met. Oh, they’re noisy enough, but for all the noise they make about the supposed injustices faced by men, they won’t lift a finger, or open their wallets, to do a single thing that might actually help real men in real pain.

In the nine years I’ve been writing about them, MRAs haven’t organized a single rally that’s attracted more rallygoers than a matinee showing of CATS; they haven’t built even a single domestic violence shelter for men. The list of things they haven’t done could fill a book.

And so it’s not surprising that when asked about their really stunning absence of activism, most MRAs will make excuses. Activism is too hard, they often say; and when we try to do anything we face opposition. Somehow these things didn’t stop the civil rights movement, which persisted despite waterhoses and police dogs and murders. But for the Men’s Rightsers even the mildest ridicule is enough for them to call it a day.

Self-declared “Men’s Human Rights Activist” Paul Elam is trying a new tactic, excusing his own lack of activism by declaring that he never called himself an activist in the first place. In a pissy post published on his A Voice for Men hate site earlier this week, he responded to the “occasional detractor[s]” who charge “that the men’s rights movement has been a complete failure at getting anything to change.”

Elam responds with a sort of inverted version of Pee Wee Herman’s famous claim: “I meant (not) to do that.”

AVFM is probably the most prominent and well-known MRA organization, and we have never even attempted to change laws any laws at all. That was never our mission.

This is simply not true. As TakedownMRAs has noted on Twitter, AVFM’s literal mission statement used to declare that the site wanted to change rape shield laws. As for activism more generally, AVFMers have described themselves as “Men’s Human Rights Activists” for years and indeed, the site once boasted an “activism director” on its masthead. So to say that changing laws was “never our mission” or that they’ve never considered themselves activists — well, both those claims are blatant lies.

All our efforts have been to reach men with a different, better vision of themselves – and to be a thorn in the side of hateful feminist ideologues.

Now we’re getting closer to the truth — at least if we take that first claim with a grain elevator of salt. Here’s a video I’ve posted before of Elam trying to inspire his fellow AVFM men to become better versions of themselves at an AVFM weekend retreat. (Elam is the man behind the camera drunkenly slurring his words and making false accusations against several prominent feminist women.)

As for the bit about being a thorn in the side of feminists, well, AVFM has definitely done that, inspiring and often leading assorted harassment campaigns against women over the years that have caused at least one feminist victim to fear for her life.

So congrats, I guess.

Of course, Elam isn’t the only AVFMer who has suggested that trolling feminists is preferable to doing anything to help men in the real world. Indeed, one (now former) editor at AVFM, who writes under the name Fidelbogen, made that clear in a blog post, writing that he’d “rather have a thousand people loudly slagging off feminism in my town, than to have one men’s DV shelter open … .”

Anybody who claims to care about men, but doesn't savage feminism pretty harshly on a regular basis, is either a damned liar or a lazy, muddled fool with his head up his ass. There is simply no way you can care about men if you are not attacking feminism in one way or another. And if I had to make the choice, I would even say that agitation is MORE important than activism. Yes, I would rather have a thousand people loudly slagging off feminism in my town, than to have one men's DV shelter open while nobody makes a squeak about feminism! And you can quote me on that.

Elam and Fidelbogen — and Men’s Rights “Activists” more generally — have managed to make the world a worse place for women while at the same time doing absolutely nothing to help men. What a legacy they will leave behind.

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Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

Hot take: They’re called Men’s Rights Activists because of incorrectly applied internet SaRcAsTiC FoNt.

Their proper name should be MeN’s RiGhTs AcTiViStS, but that’s too much of a pain to type out every time.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

@Buttercup

If MRAs were more honest they’d call themselves the Abusers’ Lobby.

Remind me of how, when I try to describe why Beast: The Primordial is the most immoral roleplaying game that I have ever seen, I like to start off by explaining that the title should be Abuser: The Rationalization.

Fabe
Fabe
2 years ago

@Allandrel

Is it worst then the Fatal RPG? because from what I know of Fatal topping that game would be quite the feat.

Fenton
Fenton
2 years ago

“Never let the Mask Slip”

That’ rule #1 of modern reactionary politics my dude.

Points for honesty, though.

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
2 years ago

@ginger

And it’s for those reasons, among other’s including their notions that fetus’s, embryos and zygotes should have more rights than the women that carry them: that I on principle refuse to call them “pro-lifers” since they are patently against life. That being said I find “anti-choicer” is to me insufficient as it’s clear that, authoritarians that they are: they are against freedom of choice.

So I simply call them “Forced Birth Fetus Fetishists”; because it’s more bluntly accurate. Though calling them “anti-women” would frankly be just as accurate (even despite their empty denials otherwise).

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
2 years ago

@ginger:
Thing is, even after 1973 being anti-abortion was mostly a Catholic position and not widespread amongst Protestant groups. The U.S. evangelical right being anti-abortion didn’t happen for almost a decade after that.

Amongst other things, see Fred Clark’s essay The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal.

The prevailing theory is that the real push for anti-abortion politics came as a result of U.S. vs. Bob Jones University… and politcally-minded people realizing that it would be easier to get conservative judges in place if they pretended it was about abortion rather than racism.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

@Fabe

Is it worst then the Fatal RPG? because from what I know of Fatal topping that game would be quite the feat.

Yes, worse than FATAL, worse than Racial Holy War.

Two big reasons for this:

One, Beast: The Primordial was put out by Onyx Path Publishing, a legit publisher that has produced award-winning RPGs in the New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness line, such as Hunter: The Vigil. Moreover, BTP is part of the same gameline as these games. This gives it an image of respectability that those self-published games lack. You can order BTP from major distributors.

Second, games like FATAL are out in the open with their awfulness. Beast, however, tries to cloak its immorality in pseudo-philosophical garbage.

If FATAL and RHW are Paul Elam, then Beast is Jordan Peterson.

Going into just what is so immoral about BTP requires a LOT of time and text. Let me basically say this: When it came out that BTP’s lead designer and writer Matt McFarland is a sexual predator, all of the game’s subtext rapidly became text. The title should be Abuser: The Rationalization.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Allandrel
I don’t really play many RPGs, but the worst one I’ve ever seen is MyFaRoG. It was created by Varg Vikernes, a Norwegian black metal musician best known for burning down centuries-old churches, murdering his bandmate, and being a neo-Nazi. After he got out of prison he moved to France and started a family. In order to teach his children his racist views, he created an RPG called MyFaRoG. As you might expect, it’s extremely racist and antisemitic. A good breakdown of it by an antifascist metal journalist can be found here.

Orion
2 years ago

Because Men’s Rights Activists don’t actually engage in activism related to men’s rights, I treat it as a name and not an English-language descriptive phrase. They are not men’s rights activists, they’re just called “Men’s Rights Activists.”

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
2 years ago

[W]hen asked about their really stunning absence of activism, most MRAs will make excuses. Activism is too hard, they often say; and when we try to do anything we face opposition.

On the other hand, guys, you’ve spread your message of hate throughout the world. Congrats?

ginger
ginger
2 years ago

@TacticalProgressive

Absolutely. They are forced-birthers and misogynists, pure and simple.

ginger
ginger
2 years ago

@Jenora Feuer

Thank you for the link. Protestant churches generally favored abortion rights in the 60s-70s. Prior to Roe, the Clergy Referral Service connected women needing abortions with safe providers. Fred “Mister” Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, participated in the service.

The Catholic church also has changed its position on abortion. In the 1200s, Aquinas proposed that a fetus became “ensoulled” after 40 days’ gestation. Abortion was permissible, though still condemned as a venial sin, prior to ensoullment. In the subsequent centuries various popes vacillated on the issue of ensoullment, until the early 1900s when the church declared that abortion during any stage of pregnancy the mortal sin of murder and not permissible under any circumstances under penalty of excommunication.

In 1968, Paul 6 proclaimed that all artificial contraception was sinful and thus condemned because of the “sanctity of life.” Only married procreative sex was permissible for Catholics.

JP2 even declared that anyone who assists in the procurement of an abortion is automatically excommunicated. This means not only the woman and provider, but anyone employed at a clinic (administrators, medical assistants, nurses, volunteers, etc.), even the person driving the woman to the clinic.

That’s a lot of damned people. Catholic hell must be very crowded.

vaiyt
2 years ago

@Naglfar

Unfortunately, the title of most terrible racist RPG already belongs to RaHoWa, which in addition to being literally just a bunch of racist jokes plastered on top of a generic system, is literally unplayable because the bozos who designed it forgot to write down one of the essential rules.

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