Tag Archives: #NoMRA

In-Your-Face Hyperbole is not Actually a Thing

11 Jun

Over the past few days I have been shocked by how active the women who are supportive of the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) are.  I would say that the majority of comments on my blog and interactions on my normally silent Twitter account have been from women.  I knew they were out there but I didn’t know they were so chatty.  All the power to them but I just had no idea.  You really do learn something new every day.  There is one lady, named Suzy, who has been a very avid commenter on my blog the past few days and I was hoping to maybe engage with something that she sent me yesterday.  Also, I might engage with a few other comments.  Here goes.

On Monday I wrote a post all about the conference being organized by Paul Elam of A Voice for Men (AVfM) in Detroit and the protest that was organized by my friend Emma in an attempt to get the DoubleTree Hotel, where the conference is scheduled to happen, to cancel it.  One commenter was very upset by the goals of this protest and wrote me this:

obviously you don’t think this group has a right to their opinions if you’re shutting down attempts to express them. I don’t identify with men’s rights or any political group but I am 100% against the idea of shutting down a conference of speaker. You’re an asshole

I actually do think the group has the right to their opinions and I am pretty sure that I stated that clearly in both of the posts I wrote concerning this issue.  What this commenter is saying, it seems to me, is that the MRM has a right to their free expression of their opinions but I don’t have the right to speak out against them?  Am I getting this right?  So, maybe this commenter is actually only 95% against the idea of shutting down a “conference of speaker?” I know that my blog doesn’t qualify as a conference, per se, but I do think that my ability to speak out against the conference, and in support of my friend, is somewhat important.  I also think that the DoubleTree is a privately owned business and therefore can choose to not host things if they think it will put other guests at risk or, more realistically in this age of capitalism, if it will impact their bottom line which it very well might.  For what it’s worth I know I won’t be staying in any Hilton-owned properties any time soon.

Anyway, back to Suzy.  Yesterday she sent me this following comment in response to a response I made to another comment:

What you call “violent and hate-filled,” we call “in-your-face hyperbole.” Before Paul started using it, many people struggling to address men’s issues were silenced and ignored for DECADES. Now that we use it routinely the public is finally beginning to notice that the Men’s Human Rights Movement exists, so I think you are mistaken when you say, “The only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”

What it actually achieves, is to bring the issues out into public view where well-funded feminists can no longer control the discussion. If you sincerely care about gender equality, you would warmly welcome the honest perspective of the other half of the population, wouldn’t you?

I just… okay.  I don’t actually know how to proceed from here.  I have been trying very hard to stay even keeled and respectful and all that but this was honestly one of the most absurd things I have ever received.  It is partly absurd because it seems to me that Suzy did not actually read any of the things that I wrote but instead went into my posts with an idea of who I am and what I think and responded to that.  The other part of the absurdity is maybe more complex but an interesting thing, I think, and applies to people outside of the MRM.  It really boils down to this:

The idea that all publicity is good publicity is simply wrong.

People aren’t talking about the MRM because they have been suddenly awoken from decades of ignorant slumber, but instead because a lot of the things said by the MRM are incredibly offensive and actually counter-productive to their movement.  Hyperbolically proclaiming that October be called “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” does not raise awareness about the very real issue of domestic violence against men, but instead calls attention to the misguided tactics of Elam and the MRM.  That was what I was saying when I wrote that “the only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”  And, if Suzy had really read my comment she would have seen that I expressed the fact that I think that same thing applies to feminists.  Making jokes in support of violence against anyone, men or women, does not advance the goals of your cause which is, supposedly, to end such violence.  All it does is distract people from the issue at hand and get them to dismiss your comments as the rantings of women-hating, misogynistic individuals.  And guess what?  That is precisely what has happened!

What I am trying to say is that the way in which people express things is actually important, it does actually matter for the outcome.  I think that you would find that there are more sympathetic ears out there than you may at first assume.  But when you approach an argument in what you call “in-your-face hyperbole” what you really end up doing is ending the conversation.  The second someone comes at me with some bullshit about “Bash a Violent Woman Month,” is the second I completely dismiss anything that person says afterwards. Period. End of story.  And that is one of the major reasons a lot of people are angry about this conference.  It isn’t that there is nothing to talk about, it isn’t about the content of a lot of the issues the MRM wants to discuss and bring to light, it is the social media and the insane number of hateful comments floating around the internet.  Not least of which was the comparison that Dean Esmay made of myself (or maybe Emma? I’m sort of confused.) to George Wallace.  I mean, please.

Detroit and the International Conference on Men’s Rights

9 Jun

All comments of an abusive or hateful nature will not be approved for publication on this blog.  If you wish to engage in some friendly debate, feel free.  Also, you are welcome to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

In this edition of “I Did This So You Don’t Have To,” I am currently sitting on the bus en route from D.C. back to Brooklyn with about 12 open tabs all having to do with the men’s rights movement (MRM).  I have gone down the rabbit hole.

Over the past few days, I have been watching from my home in Brooklyn, and my friend’s home in D.C., as some interesting things happened in Detroit, where my friend Emma lives.  For a little back story, a few weeks ago Paul Elam from A Voice for Men (AVfM), a men’s rights website, helped to organize the first ever International Conference on Men’s Issues which was to take place towards the end of June at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit.  A group of concerned feminist-citizens in Detroit, Emma included, created a petition and organized a peaceful protest and march to get the DoubleTree to cancel the conference.  They were successful in gaining recognition for their cause which is no small feat. In response, Paul Elam took to the internet to blame the “radical gender ideologues” who made it their mission to “silence (his) efforts to address issues affecting boys and men.”  He then created his own petition to call on the “city of Detroit to take note. Radical feminists have corrupted the idea of gender equity. They have transformed it into a Marxist agenda of oppressive control, including the silencing of all opposing views.”

Alright.  I agree that AVfM and its readers absolutely have the right to their own opinions and to express those opinions as they see fit, barring, or course, threats of violence and the like.  By extension, those holding opposing views, myself included, absolutely have the right to express our opinions (also barring threats of violence and the like), including, but not limited to, the right to put pressure on a business to disallow an openly misogynistic group from holding a conference in its facilities.  I think it is important to point out that throughout the organization of this protest, which was done on a public Facebook page, Emma and her co-organizers fostered conversations concerning how to offer a safe space — physically and emotionally — for any person participating in the protest who might find the rhetoric consistently used by AVfM triggering or intimidating in some way.  They discussed the possibility of a counter-protest and prepared all attendees accordingly.  What ended up happening was that a few representatives for AVfM showed up at the protest and, reportedly, followed at least one woman to her car and snapped a photograph of her license plate. A few others took photographs and video of the protest in, what it has been assumed, was an effort to identify and subsequently doxx the attendees.

Personally, I think doxxing is weak and totally fucked up and should only be used in very specific circumstances.  Also, it gives me the willies.  But doxxing is an approach that AVfM is no stranger to.  On May 31st, A Voice for Male Students, which is associated with AVfM, published a letter addressed to Emma that included a photograph of her, her personal email address, and information about her occupation in an overt attempt to put pressure on the Detroit Public School system to deem her a threat to the education of young boys and subsequently fire her.  To me, that reeks of intimidation and threat and, if the school system were to take seriously the phone calls and emails received at the urging of this letter it would, in my mind,  be considered the “silencing of all opposing views.”

But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by all this.  Paul Elam, after all, once declared that October should be “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” and said

“I’d like to make it the objective for the remainder of this month, and all the Octobers that follow, for men who are being attacked and physically abused by women – to beat the living shit out of them. I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”

Because obviously the way to gain attention for the very real issue of domestic violence against men and boys is to urge those victims to act violently as opposed to, I don’t know, working with feminists to help destigmatize the problem and gain more public attention and funding to combat it.  Of course, Elam will say that this was all tongue in cheek.  He will say that he told people that he wasn’t serious.  But,

“Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong. Every one should have the right to defend themselves. Hell, women are often excused from killing someone whom they allege has abused them. They can shoot them in their sleep and walk. Happens all the time. It’ll even get you a spot on Oprah, and cuntists across the cunt-o-sphere will be lionizing you.”

It isn’t worth the time behind bars, he alleges.  But, if you do decide to take him up on his advice then

“you are heroes to the cause of equality; true feminists. And you are the honorary Kings of Bash a Violent Bitch Month. You are living proof of just how hollow ‘don’t fuck with us,’ rings from the mouths of bullies and hypocrites.”

So I don’t know, guys.  Paul Elam has the right to his opinions.  But I would argue that we, as feminists, have an obligation to all people to stand up to this sort of hate-fueled rhetoric. So I am really proud to call Emma my friend and really amazed at the effects of the protest and petitions she and her fellow feminist activists put together.  It’s a small step but it’s a step nonetheless.

And let us remember, just as a small aside, that feminism, at its best, isn’t only about the rights of all women, but of all people.  So let’s use this as one more step towards attempting to make the movement as united and inclusive as possible.