Confused losers at A Voice for Men congratulate themselves on their COLOSSAL SUCCESS in Toronto

Derek Zoolander: Also a little delusional sometimes

Derek Zoolander: Also a little delusional sometimes

So over on A Voice for Men, the regulars are all congratulating one another for their grand victory in Toronto. In AVFM’s official post on Saturday’s tiny “rally,” incongruously titled “Historic MHRA rally in Toronto huge success,” Elam — who in photographs of the events looked rather befuddled by it all — declared that the day had been magical for him:

“This was one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life,” said Elam. “Meeting all of these people and talking to a crowd that was five times bigger than the opposition was a remarkable event.”

Given that most of the opposition made a clear decision to ignore the AVFM/CAFE rally and lecture — much to the obvious disappointment of many MRAs who were there in Toronto or watching on the sidelines on the Internet — this was not much of an accomplishment.

Other commenters on AVFM were equally effusive.

“It’s an amazing day!” declared Tara J. Palmatier, the Men’s Rights therapist. “What a fantastic turnout, congrats to all the people who took part in this momentous rally,” wrote the easily impressed Onca747. “This truly is a historic moment,” agreed Unregistard. “OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” added JJ.

Not to be outdone, Attila L. Vinczer of Canada Courtwatch, one of the speakers at the “rally,” declared it to have been both a “COLOSSAL” and a “complete success,” adding that

Saturday, September 28, 2013 will be remembered in history as one of the most important turning points for Men and Boys in Crisis.

The obvious question is: Do they know?

Do they know what a miserable failure their little rally was?

This was to be the great shining moment for the burgeoning Mens (Human) Rights Movement. It was trumpeted in no less than 17 posts on AVFM itself and in numerous other posts on affiliated and sympathetic sites elsewhere. Numerous MRAs flew in to be there. And the event drew … a tiny handful of rank-and-file MRAs and other onlookers. I’ve seen bigger crowds waiting for a bus. (See the pictures here to see how tiny this “historic” rally really was; see here for people making fun of those pictures.)

A Voice for Men has a long-established habit of promising big and delivering tiny, or not at all.

Oftentimes, the site simply moves on, and hopes no one remembers the promises and/or predictions.

In this case, they seem to be trying to cover up a giant failure through the sheet power of their own bluster.

Or do they really believe their own nonsense?

Recently, I read the classic sociological study When Prophecy Fails, by  Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. It’s a study of a small UFO cult led by a woman named Dorothy Martin who claimed to have received messages from planet Clarion predicting an imminent apocalypse in the early morning of December 21, 1954. The researchers — in a move that would now be considered completely unethical — managed to infiltrate the group, and so had a cult-members-eye-view to watch what happened when this prophecy (SPOILER ALERT) didn’t come true.

There are a couple of aspects of Ms. Martin’s story that I think are relevant here. Prior to her big failed prediction — and the collapse of her little cult — Martin made a number of smaller failed predictions, claiming that the aliens had told her when and where they would be landing their ships. Each time, she and some of her followers went to their alien appointments and waited, only to be stood up. And each time, Martin’s imaginary alien friends came up with an excuse for their absence which somehow mollified her followers.

When the apocalypse itself failed to appear, to the great consternation of her followers, Martin again turned to her alien friends for an explanation, and told her followers that their efforts had so pleased the aliens that they had decided to not destroy the world after all.

Instead of rejecting this as obvious nonsense, her most fervent followers grabbed onto this explanation excitedly. After days of dodging the press — which had been writing jokey stories about the group as they prepared for the end — the group members eagerly started calling every reporter they could think of to share the good news about the earth’s reprieve.

In other words, the failed prophecy, in the short term, actually served to invigorate the group and strengthen the beliefs of its truest true believers — as they tried to combat their unconscious sense of disappointment with ever-more-frantic activity.

But only for the most fervent followers. Those who weren’t in direct contact with Martin faded away from the group.

The sociologists didn’t really get a chance to see what would have happened with the true believers because the real world intruded on the cult in other ways: Police threatened to arrest Martin for contributing to the delinquency of minors (by scaring them with her UFO stories) and suggested that she might be sent to a mental hospital. She went into hiding, and her group dissolved. Two years later Festinger’s book was published.

But Martin hadn’t vanished forever. Several years later she emerged again as a proto-new age guru, and she continued channeling her same alien friends for many decades until her death in 1992.

So on the one hand, she managed to keep peddling her bullshit for as long as she lived even after being proved catastrophically wrong again and again.

On the other hand, she never became the great prophet she imagined herself to be, and has gone down in history as little more than a footnote in the history of People Who Were Completely Wrong About Everything.

There may be a lesson or two here.

For more about Martin and her group, see here. If you’ve got a Kindle, you can get an ebook version of When Prophecy Fails cheap on Amazon.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on September 29, 2013, in a voice for men, actual activism, antifeminism, armageddon, crackpottery, grandiosity, gross incompetence, hamstering, irony alert, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, paul elam, shit that never happened, that's completely wrong and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 211 Comments.

  1. Ahhhh duckies! :D

  2. Brits queuing up for something or other:

    Queuing up “for something or other”? No no no no no! The queue is the purpose. The queue is the reward! The queue is all that matters, everything that will ever matter. The queue is life!

  3. Fear not, I have made sure not to mention any supposed purpose for the queue beyond the queue!

  4. Fear the queue!!
    Also, is a manufactured image from a game acceptable for this thing? I have a few alien astronauts on their way to their nearest satellite and might arrange a Mun party for photo ops, assuming my computer can handle that many objects onscreen at once.

  5. Hmm… I’m not really sure? I think maybe we should keep it to real-world things, otherwise I’ll probably devolve into posting pictures of infinite orc hordes or Sims parties or whatever.

  6. Not a picture but wasn’t there a huge eve online battle that happened? It’s on youtube. I’m betting there were more people involved in it than the whole MRM.

  7. Ah, fair enough… I think the required number of Kerbals, along with the required picture quality hike, would make my computer die anyways. Eve stuff would probably work though, since they’re actually real people controlling those ships, even if it’s not actually real itself. I’m pretty sure I went on a mining op once that outnumbered that meeting… we left whole systems stripped in our wake… it was harrowing.

  8. This?

    Well since every… ship or whatever (lol I know nothing about EVE Online) represents an actual person playing, that’s a ton of people doing a thing, so sure I guess!

  9. Well since every… ship or whatever (lol I know nothing about EVE Online)

    The accepted term is spatchwiffle. True story.

  10. Hey, hey, every player could control like a contingent of three ships or something! Maybe that’s a spatchwiffle! :P

  11. Queuing up “for something or other”? No no no no no! The queue is the purpose. The queue is the reward! The queue is all that matters, everything that will ever matter. The queue is life!

    Archbishop Tutu once said the greatest legacy of the Brits in South Africa was the queue. ;)

  12. Anonymous Contributor

    So many white people…

  13. That reel asian film festival is oddly similar to a group photo I took with friends at a benefit show only we were mostly white people and it’s freaking me out. If I wasn’t on my tablet I’d post it.

  14. So here’s Elam’s take on the whole thing.

    Along with the predictable self-contratulation, 2 things worthy of note:

    1) Apparently he got in a bit of trouble with the police there b/c people from his side went over and tried to provoke shit with the counterprotesters (in the video I noticed our pal Nick Reading in his sandwich board being led back to the MRA side by the cops after visiting the counterprotesters).

    2) Elam spends about half his post taking their own speaker (Miles Groth, the one who gave the lecture on friday) to task for one sentence in his talk praising the White Ribbon campaign and Walk A Mile In Her Shoes events.


    Good luck building your movement, dude who can’t stand anyone disagreeing with him about anything ever.

  15. Ah, I notice in the comments that Groth has “clarified” his statement with something that seems to say, oh I didn’t really say those words, I said some similar words and I didn’t really mean it, I really meant the opposite, I was just trying to smooth things over for any feminists listening.

    Paul seems to accept the apology.

    Putting aside the weirdness of Groth’s self-contradictory explanation, shouldn’t Paul have maybe contacted him first before attacking him in public over what he thought he had said?

  16. Wow, dude had to “clarify” to Paul Elam for maybe accidentally sounding like a decent and fair person for a second . . . what kind of backwards land is this . . .

  17. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Hi, I am (name) I go by (username) at AVFM. I Just wanted to say hello.” It happened again and again and again.

    I’m assuming this means “there were four people at the event.”

  18. That, or the same person tapped him four times.

  19. I’m guessing Elam did that because he liked people being scared that if they upset him he’ll throw them out of the treehouse.

  20. Kitteh: Actually, as written, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

    I notice he frankly admits to making a mistake with people provoking the counterprotesters. I wonder about the role of such admissions in self-worship. In my experience, people who build up those kinds of worshipful cults of personality revolving around their absolute authority and rightness actually do tend to admit to certain mistakes. But they’ll be mistakes from long ago, or clearly trivial ones, or–best of all–ones that actually reinforce their general message (ie, “I broke my own rule”).

    So the overall effect is to further consolidate the power of their image by increasing their apparent humanity and making themselves relatable (hence why the mistakes are admitted in a frank, kinda jokey or self-deprecating way) and to strengthen their message by giving the impression that it can’t be mistaken because, if it were, they would admit it.

    I remember Mark Driscoll being exactly like this, for instance.

  21. Being around Driscoll must have been great training for spotting manipulative people in general.

  22. I’ll say that sounds surreal. If we take him at his word the “soiree” at the, “tavern” was more populated than the actual event.

    Which means either he’s full of it, or the people who were so eager to glad hand him in private aren’t willing to show their faces where they might be associated with him in public.

    I also note his “admission” comes with the word mistakes in scare quotes (i.e. they weren’t “really” mistakes, they only look like it, when seen from a distance).

    The re-interpreting (i.e. establishing a party line of politically correct meaning for the things Gross said) was amazing. It read like a Communist Party Directive from the middle-fifties, right down to the “emmendation” Gross made to say, “yes, that was exactly what I was trying to say”.

  23. katz: Note that it’s also not HIS error he’s acknowledging. Rather, he’s noting that some of the people in his ragtag crew of Brave Heroes [TM] were in violation of the assurances they had given the police. So it was just him not cracking down hard enough on misconduct by his minions. And everyone knows minions are a pain to wrangle, right? This isn’t him acknowledging an error, so much as him stepping up to the duties of being a True Leader.

  24. feminist establishment strategy is to simultaneously decry the movement publicly as a threat AND declare them losers that no one pays attention to. Lise Gotell gets national news attention through them AND pretends they are beneath her to engage.

    Honestly, I admire it. The higher ups thought it out. And the personality disordered hench-women on this blog follow right along.

  25. Zoot blathers

    blah blah blah. tell us something original.

  26. I demand a “Personality Disordered Hench-Woman” T-shirt.

  27. I’d like a Personally Disordered Hench-Woman one. It’d describe the state of my bedroom perfectly.

  28. I demand a “Personality Disordered Hench-Woman” T-shirt.

    T-shirt? Feh. COMMIT, katz. I’m getting a “Personality Disordered Hench-Woman” tattoo.

  29. Personally Disordered Minions? Because PDM is totally not used for anything else! (We’re data management! Or maybe a Democratic Party)

  30. It can say personality disordered minion on the front and have argenti’s misandry chair on the back – i swear one day i will get that on a t-shirt…

  31. ::snorfle:: Sir just dropped a comment that I’m his personally disordered henchwoman.

  32. *dies laughing* you like it that much? I’m flattered!

  33. I love that image. I will absolutely get it on a shirt eventually. Maybe a sweater.

  34. Now there’d be a knitting pattern for the ages – the Hard Chair of Misandry!

  35. I guess I’d be the Multiple Personality Disordered Henchman…

  36. Or henchpersons, to include everyone in the system?

    I kind of like henchpersons. :)

  37. I don’t think I could convince the rest of my system to go for it.

    Also, I must go now; I have a husband in leather pants carting me off.

  38. I want a Personally Disordered Minion straight jacket.

  39. Great minds thinking alike: tigtog’s just telling everyone on Hoyden About Town that they’re a pretty poor bunch of minions ‘cos nobody told her about Christopher Eccleston being the villain in a new movie.

    neuroticbeagle – what about a Beagally Disordered Minion one?

  40. I want a straight jacket that isn’t three sizes too large! (I…uh…may want it for improper purposes…)

    SittieKitty — that is awesome!

    LBT — of course you do… *shakes head*

  41. If were doing this I want the outfit from this video.

    Argenti is welcome to borrow if if zie wishes,

  42. I do not, however, want someone groping me while wearing their bright yellow gardening gloves. I’d forgotten that part. The fuck?

  43. What about the personality disordered hench-menz???

  44. >>>feminist establishment strategy is to simultaneously decry the movement publicly as a threat AND declare them losers that no one pays attention to

    Your “movement” (as in, bowel) is a threat BECAUSE they’re losers no one pays attention to. A bunch of wannabee Marc Lepines, Thomas Balls and Anders Breiviks.

  45. @SittieKitty:

    Not a picture but wasn’t there a huge eve online battle that happened? It’s on youtube. I’m betting there were more people involved in it than the whole MRM.

    I remember reading about that. Some player jumped his ship(s) into the combat zone early, and the rest of his side fell out of order and got blowed up. People lost actual money because they paid actual money for their Death Star Borg Cube ships that got destroyed.

    What about the personality disordered hench-menz???


  46. Falconer, yeah, I think the estimated damage in real dollars was in the hundreds of thousands by the end of it.

  47. We decry them as threats and losers because they are both. It’s not as if the Marc Lepine’s and George Sodoni’s of the world were a big success at life.

    No, what made them dangerous was being told their failures were the fault of women; against which they lashed out. Which sort of lashing out the, “movement” encourages.

    So yeah, threats and losers.

  48. Sodini tried donating part of his estate to Pitt, afaik they are still refusing to take it. Go Pitt! /OT

  49. If they took it, they should put it into supporting women’s health, shelters and so on. That’d piss the dudebros off no end.

  50. yes, a men’s issues focus for average man to do with male suicide, education, custody, health and sexuality issues will turn them into Lepines and Sodonis because they think the feminist narrative to do with patriarchy is at least partially horseshit. It’s like manboobz (and the women’s studies departments it represents with it’s snark) is it’s own special planet. Another t-shirt.

  51. Zoot: No, see, t-shirt slogans need to be pithy and to the point and easily understood. None of which that post was.

  52. Zoot: If they actually tried to deal with those problems, that would be one thing.

    But they don’t. Their motto isn’t, “Help the men and boys”, it’s,. I <3 FTSU.

    So yeah, dangerous losers.

  53. Avid cypher And they get lumped with folks like Thomas Ball because AVfM had his manifesto listed as activism.

    In other news, I’m now leaving in what autocorrect does to me for your amusement.

  54. Did Zoot get English lessons from explorenature? Because really, now.

  55. Feck it, Zoot’s even more boring than Mr 90%, and that takes some doing.

  56. Since when do MRAs care about men? If they’ve ever touched on men’s issues, it was “WOMANZ STEALING MY MONEYZ”, “WOMAN CALLED ME RAPIST”, “WOMAN CALLED ME CREEPY”, or “WOMAN WANNA EXTERMINATE ALL MENZ”.

    In other words, a “haha we trump you feminazis, beat that!” card.

    Otherwise, they’re happy to call for men to be raped (mostly towards gay men and men whose ideologies they don’t like), and they despise those who step out of line, or even toe it.

    That’s not a movement for men or boys. It’s a movement for privileged assholes.

  57. You can’t just get on a T-shirt by saying “put me on a T-shirt.” You have to really want it.

  58. I’m getting Zoot’s words of wisdom as a tattoo. On my earlobe. My earlobe will basically be a mass of illegible black ink.

    I just dropped the truth about Erin Pizzey’s dog on a r/mensrights thread. I look forward to waking up in the morning to messages calling me a feminazi and femicunt (a newer variation).

    Good night all!

  59. LOL Erin Pizzey was the one of the first women to make things happen about women’s abuse in the UK. She found things are more complex then she first thought, and that abuse wasn’t male. BUT that’s not patriarchy.

  60. Mmm…nope, still a bad T-shirt slogan.

  61. Why can’t we get interesting trolls kitteh :(

  62. “But that’s not patriarchy.”

    Do you just end every post like that?

  63. manboobz (and the women’s studies departments it represents with it’s snark) is it’s own special planet

    1. “Its” not “it’s”. Punctuation – it’s your friend.

    2. I didn’t know we represented women’s studies departments. Maybe we could get them to sponsor the t-shirts if we’re their representatives.

  64. I like the idea of planet manboobz. I imagine pink & orange plantlife, like the planet at the start of the latest Star Trek film, but without the dangerous volcano.

  65. Titianblue, also catnip everywhere.

  66. Auggz, I’m sure the furrinati would insist on it.

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