***This was a personal response and does not reflect the views of The Canadian Association For Equality.
Paul Elam recently took me to task over comments I had made on a panel at AVFM’s first international conference on Men’s Issues. Here is my response to his article:
I could tell you were angry with what I had said on the panel when you pointed out that “someone” on the panel mentioned radicals, and then you denied their very existence. If I had meant AVFM, I would not have sat on that panel. I have dealt with enough radicals from the other side; I wouldn’t deal with those I may consider radical on our side. Everyone I know in what we consider the MHRM, rightly deny participation of red-pillers, PUA’s, etc. However, the media does not, and there was a fair amount of media there.
It is ironic that you closed your rant by stating that the last thing the MHRM needs is an activist “Good Men Project”. Someone from AVFM mentioned to me at the conference that you recently got raked over the coals in the comments section of an article on masculinists. One of those comments levied the same accusation at AVFM:
“Is it necessary to condemn every fucking group in [the] manosphere? … it seems that inch by inch AVFM is moving towards becoming another GMP.”
My response was “good”. We should be told when people disagree with us. I despise an echo chamber, which is probably one of the biggest reasons that I am involved in getting men’s issues addressed. This is why I wholeheartedly endorse this article. If you dislike what I say, by all means, tell me. That applies to everyone in the men’s movement, not just Paul Elam. If you dislike or disagree with what someone is saying, especially those you consider to be leaders of the movement, tell them. Let your voice be heard.
The comment that irked you was spoken while I was discussing a sub-reddit I enjoy occasionally engaging in, “feMRAdebates” where people of all perspectives discuss gender issues. I was adding to what Stefan Molyneux had said about “know thyself”. Many in this movement see feminism, and thus feminists, as the enemy; I don’t see it in such black and white terms. At the conference, I believe you yourself mentioned supporting what you call “good” feminists, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, or Camille Paglia. There are those who do discuss errors of feminism, and speak to men’s issues, and do so under the banner of feminism. Like Warren Farrell, I support anything that helps liberate people from staunchly held gender paradigms.
I was telling people to engage with those whose opinions differ from their own, and to learn from them. For those who are anti-feminist, consider it “knowing thy enemy”. For those who are just interested in men’s issues, then engage perspectives outside your preferred echo chamber. You won’t always agree with people, or be agreed with (am I right, Paul?), but you will be better for it. You will also be helping those who have a poor understanding of what men’s issues are by giving them a better understanding of how
men and boys are underscored, misunderstood, and underrepresented in the realm of gender discussions. If you are good enough, you may even sway a few opinions. I even find that those who self-identify as “radicals” are occasionally worth talking to.
What I meant was to ignore those who are radical in their opinions. You won’t get anywhere arguing with a troll who just hates men/women, or thinks all men/women’s issues are invalid. If you do choose to engage with those kinds of radicals, remember that it is not them you are talking to, it is those who are listening or reading along. Someone else on the panel mentioned the old adage of “if you argue with an idiot, they will just bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” As such, keep the higher ground or ignore them.
As for radicals who picket men’s conferences in Detroit, or scream in your face at a discussion of men’s issues in Toronto, I agree with you; we do not have radicals in the MHRM in that sense. What I liked best about your closing statement on the panel was when you said “if we did have radicals, we would cast them out”. If you don’t think we have radicals, great. If we ever get some, then yes, we should cast them out for their transgressions against the entire movement.
One of your writers, Andy Thomas (who also has an article on CAFÉ’s website), wrote a great article for AVFM a year ago titled “We are the radicals now”. He asserts that feminist revolutionaries who think they are radical, are nothing of the sort. He refers to himself as a radical, and says “We are not just radical, we are in every sense the most radical thinking movement in the history of human society.” You deny the existence of radicals, and I certainly did not mean the type Andy wrote about anyway. Perhaps we need to discuss what one another’s definitions of a “radical” are before you go chomping at the bit.
This is what will separate us from the feminist sphere. When discussing their radicals, or those who are truly man-hating, they tend to claim that not all feminists are like that (NAFALT, to the uninitiated). This is not denying their presence in feminism; it is not decrying them as feminists; it is not saying that they reject their form of feminism. It is saying yes, they are feminists, but we’re not all like that. If they won’t cast them out and say they don’t accept them as feminists, then it is worse than the no true Scotsman fallacy. They are not saying no true feminist would say/act like that, they are saying yep, that’s definitely an aspect of feminism! If the radical feminists were an illness of feminism, they would be Tourettes, and we’re expected to ignore the occasional outburst of “rape apologizing scum” and “shut the fuck up!”
So yes, I support what you said in response. We cannot be accepting of radicals or radical viewpoints, in the extreme sense of radical, if they pop up under the banner of the MHRM. I support your calling me out on something you disagreed with. However, I don’t support your trying to turn AVFM readers against someone who you simply disagree with, who also contributes to the recognition of men’s issues, because I did not mean them. If I meant AVFM readers, and writers, I would have said that’s who I meant, and I would have given specific examples because I prefer to address people as individuals rather than guilty by association.
“At this same event a CAFE representative proudly, publicly, and quite sneeringly scoffed at the idea of men’s “rights,” a shot I interpreted as a direct insult to those of us who actually believe men should have them.”
Does this sound like sneeringly scoffing to anyone else? Sure sounds like someone saying men’s rights are human rights to me; someone in support of a men’s human rights movement. For more people who use the perspective of a MHRM, you don’t even need to look outside your own walls. He also said that is what we, CAFÉ, are. If that displeases you, so be it. I’m sorry if you don’t think men’s rights are simply human rights.
You say I should hold some resolve, have a fucking spine, and essentially not sit on the fence. Sorry, but I prefer to have an open mind. It’s the other side of the fence that is usually stuck in staunchly held world-views (Patriarchy! Patriarchy! Patriarchy!), and that’s what you want me to be like? Pass. That’s why I’m not over there. Thank you for dissenting from my opinion and reminding me that we are allowed to challenge each other on this side. Please continue to do so. That is what I value about the men’s movement.
With all due respect, I would suggest you work harder at practicing what you preach, lest you come across as an overly defensive individual, more concerned with his personal ego gratification than with the ultimate goals of the MHRM. Personally I’m disappointed you didn’t feel you could come and talk to me about my comment afterwards, wherein we could have had a discussion on what I meant by my comments and come to a better understanding.
Your light will not get any brighter by blowing out someone else’s candle.
“May I never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson