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.


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, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on June 19, 2014, in a voice for men, anne cools, antifeminism, antifeminist women, Dean Esmay, hetsplaining, homophobia, hypocrisy, judgybitch, misogyny, MRA, paul elam, transphobia and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 510 Comments.

  1. Maybe it’s just relative lack of exposure, or the fact that intend to hang out with nice people… But I’ve never actually met any gay men who are jerks about stuff like this.

    I think it’s not really gay men specifically, or intentionally, it’s just the regular intersectionality thing: When they go to make a movement about gay rights, it defaults to being about gay white dudes, and then human nature being what it is, people are slow and reluctant to recognize the necessity of expanding it.

    But I think you’re right that “gay men hate lesbians/trans people/bisexuals” isn’t really a thing, particularly.

  2. I don’t have a problem with people using the acronym so long as they don’t include “allies” in it (the movement is for queer and trans people, not allies!).

    Doesn’t the A stand for asexual?

  3. cassandrakitty

    When they go to make a movement about gay rights, it defaults to being about gay white dudes, and then human nature being what it is, people are slow and reluctant to recognize the necessity of expanding it.

    Yep. I’ve had the misfortune of encountering a very small number of gay men who were virulently and openly misogynistic, but such men are not the norm. What is the norm is people brought up to think of themselves as being the default humans acting on that assumption and thus marginalizing other people. It doesn’t have to be a deliberate thing, all that it takes is for people not to think about their assumptions and to get defensive when people try to point out that that’s what they’re doing.

    I’m also confused as to how anyone could think that gay men would be incapable of misogyny given that they were presumably raised in the same misogynistic society that everyone else was. I would point out, though, that in general men who’re not sexually attracted to women are usually going to be less of a threat to us than men who are, simply because so much of the violence and controlling behavior directed at women by men is sexually motivated in one way or another.

  4. I see a troll is once again insisting that we (a fairly obscure bunch of feminists) condemn the actions of other obscure feminists we have no connection to, and pretending that is the equivalent of the currently most influential MRM group (i.e. AVfM) being asked to condemn the abhorrent views of people they have endorsed by asking them to speak at their conference. Yeah, that isn’t actually equivalent. And in fact, David and others here have frequently condemned extremist and/or violent sentiments expressed by feminists (which aren’t nearly as common as this marly troll would pretend).

    Nonetheless, I thought I would alert you to the existence of a handy, one-stop-shopping place anyone can go to put their condemnation of these obscure feminists on the record, as it were:


  5. @contrapangloss

    But, I’m kind of feeling a little awkward with the blanket ‘gay men tend to be jerks about lesbians/misogyny” thing that seems to be rolling.

    Sorry if I’m offending anyone, and yes, some gay men can be as misogynistic as straight dudes, and I really don’t mean to tone troll, but some of my favorite relatives and friends are gay, and it’s all confusing and touchy, and kind of a difficult subject, and eep!

    idk. I mean it’s great you haven’t met gay men who are jerks about this stuff, but lots of us have met them. :/


    Cis people, because of their privilege, tend to ignore this transmisogynistic dynamic. So I think it’s important for especially cis people to use TWEF/TWERF instead

    Got it. thanks for the explanation :3 I’ll switch over to TWEF/TWERF, then.

    I don’t have a problem with people using the acronym so long as they don’t include “allies” in it (the movement is for queer and trans people, not allies!)

    Ditto. The a stands for asexual, not allies (//preaching to the choir).


    Doesn’t the A stand for asexual?

    yeah. But sometimes allies act like it stands for allies, not asexual, which is I think what Ally meant.

  6. And also, I read a book at one point where someone said dragons were bad. I haven’t seen you, markxneil, ever say that dragons are good. Are you an anti-dragonist? That’s monstrous, man! Reptilian beings of awe-inspiring power are people too!

    Of course markxneil is an anti-dragonist. Look at how misandrist they are: http://fearless-feminism.tumblr.com/post/81326932909/feminist-dragons-inspired-by-x

  7. You have to remember there is no single LGBT community IRL, it’s a multiple communities that have shared struggles. Most LGBT socially in multiple worlds: a broader social circle including straight people, then smaller LGBT circle and an even smaller, often sexuality related, group. If you have gay male friends there are gay clubs they will bring non-gay friends to and gay clubs they won’t (or can’t) because they’re doing more than dancing.

    A lot of the complaints about the current QUILTBAG (or variations) is from people are 40 or over. You know all the things Dan Savage says that offends young queers? That’s same stuff was conventional gay guy thinking, and conventional thinking in general, about 20-30 years ago. When I was growing up in the 1980s people thought all bisexual women were adventurous straight women and bisexual men were closeted gays, the later particularly seen as mythical creatures. Trans stuff didn’t matter because they didn’t have any political power, the history of HRC on trans issues is a horror show, for instance. Luckily, things have wildly improved because trans women and men have gained positions of power in non-profit LGBT advocacy groups. HRC still has huge blind spots because it’s a bunch of rich white people, but HRC is, at best, “problematic”. (I have a lot of issues with HRC). The fact is allies don’t do anything more than lip service, so you need to have as much broad representation in leadership positions.

    I’m rambling a bit and didn’t mean to offend or bum anybody out. I’m off to my birthday dinner!

  8. AVfM has posted a solid response to this article, not that I expect any of the ideologues on here to give it a fair shake:


  9. Keep shaking those pompoms, Woody.

  10. Seriously. Is Woody a paid shill? Can we just ban him for being boring? He doesn’t engage and entertain. All he does is drop a praise Paul Elam turds in here.

  11. cassandrakitty

    Behold, the real content of all these comments, which Woody is desperately hoping that Elam will notice.

  12. Argenti Aertheri

    Ally — yeah, the only time allies should get grouped with people who fall under the QUILTBAG umbrella is when it’s something like a GSA or “conference for QUILTBAG people and their allies”. (Remind me what the letters are if this is wrong? Queer, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual, gay? Or is the Q questioning? But then what’s the U?)

    And TWEF it is, that’s really a much better definition of the problem after all.


    Random — straight :: gay/lesbian/bi/pan, cis :: trans, sexual :: asexual, ?? :: intersex? Is there a term for “I am not intersex // there was no doubt what gender to assign me at birth // nobody’s ever thought my genitals are in need of “correction””?

  13. @Argenti

    “I am not intersex // there was no doubt what gender to assign me at birth // nobody’s ever thought my genitals are in need of “correction””?

    DFAB/DMAB (designated male/female at birth)?

  14. (Haven’t read any of the comments)

    But so, yeah…this is akin to the problem of the mainstream gay and lesbian movement willing to throw trans folk under the bus. Except unlike straight, cis MRAs, gay and lesbian folk actually are oppressed…and at least there are a good number of gay and lesbian folk critiquing their own movement’s exclusionary practices. See also: feminism’s problem with throwing women of colour under the bus.

    Also reminds me of that time Patton Oswalt tweeted a quote from Steve Sailor without any context and failed to see that it was a problem.

  15. You can actually feel the profuse love and misplaced adoration (as well as ignorance and delusion) emanating from Woody when he talks about “Paul”. It’s kind of beautiful.

  16. cassandrakitty

    @ marinerachel

    I gotta say, ever since you broke up with the ex your snark level has risen considerably. I like it.

  17. I’d support banning Woody. He’s goddamn boring and he’s obviously not reading anyone else’s comments (or else he’d have noticed that we’ve already discussed Dear Leader’s response post). If he wants to monologue, he can get his own blog.

  18. Is there a term for “I am not intersex”?

    IDK, intrasex? Very word, much cromulent.

    Ally, I don’t think Argenti meant that since even intersex infants tend to get designated with binary gender, regardless of surgical “correction”.

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