Spinning out of control: Janet Bloomfield takes A Voice for Men’s reality-distortion field on the road
Posted by David Futrelle
One of the benefits of running a cult – or so I have heard – is the ability to define reality for your cult followers. The principals at the cultish A Voice for Men do this all the time – pretending, for example, that former AVFM Number Two John Hembling had once faced off against a mob of 20-30 angry feminists brandishing boxcutters when his own video of the event showed him conversing with a handful of peaceful activists. And who can forget their attempts to cast their embarrassingly poorly attended rally on Toronto as a “huge success?”
However successful they are at redefining reality for their cult followers, cult leaders encounter problems when they try to do the same thing for those outside of their sphere of influence.
Take AVFM maximum leader Paul Elam’s continual attempts to recast some of the vilest things he’s written as “satire,” an explanation that only seems to fly amongst MRAs with a large capacity for the willing suspension of disbelief.
Well, now AVFM’s comically inept PR maven Janet “JudgyBitch” Bloomfield has taken on the project of trying to retroactively redefine Elam’s most despicable writings as satire.
In a post on Thought Catalog, Bloomfield argues, as best she can, that Elam’s notorious “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” post was not arguing, as it plainly seemed to be, that the best way to stop women from abusing their male partners was to let said male partners beat the shit out of them.
In the piece, you may recall, Elam said this:
In the name of equality and fairness, I am proclaiming October to be Bash a Violent Bitch Month.
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.
And then make them clean up the mess.
Now, am I serious about this?
No. Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong.
But it isn’t worth the time behind bars or the abuse of anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.
There’s no reason whatsoever to believe that any of this is “satirical” or sarcastic or anything other than what it seems on the surface to be: a suggestion that the proper response to violence from women is violence against women – or that this would be the proper response, if this sort of “self-defense” from men didn’t result in jail time or anger management classes.
Indeed, the argument of this piece is entirely in keeping with a short story Elam published around this same time, titled “Anger Management,” that has as its hero a man unfairly punished for breaking his wife’s nose in a fit of righteous rage after she left him for his business partner.
But Bloomfield shamelessly if unconvincingly tries to argue that
What Paul Elam did in his article was engage in satire – he flipped the genders to highlight just how awful it is to hurt another person, and dramatically highlighted our double standards when it comes to who got hurt.
Yep, she’s honestly claiming that’s what he meant when he said beating the shit out of a “violent bitch” is “not wrong” just not “worth the time behind bars or the abuse of anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.”
The argument went over well with the small army of misfit misogynists populating the comments section to Bloomfield’s post on Thought Catalog. And perhaps she will see this as a victory.
But if you read the following comments critically, you’ll notice that the commenters — including her fans — aren’t buying the satire argument at all.
Notice the upvotes. This was a popular argument in the comments.
This comment was a response to one of the only feminists who ventured into the fray:
One commenter recalled a famous passage in Shakespeare:
The passage in question in A Merchant of Venice is Shylock’s famous “if you prick us, do we not bleed” speech. You may recall that Shylock used this argument as a justification for revenge, declaring that
[t]he villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
This is Elam’s argument as well.
In other words, none of these commenters — and those who upvoted them — believe that Elam’s post was satirical. None of them see Elam’s argument as being anything other than what it was: a Shylockean paean to righteous “revenge” upon abusive women.
They know he was serious. And they agree with him.
EDITED TO ADD: Bloomfield has responded to this post with a detailed and lucid critique. By which I mean she tweeted this:
About David FutrelleI 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 21, 2014, in a voice for men, a woman is always to blame, advocacy of violence, antifeminism, evil wives, evil women, imaginary oppression, judgybitch, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, not-quite-plausible deniability, paul elam, playing the victim, taking pleasure in women's pain, why can't men punch women?, yeah that's the ticket and tagged a voice for men, anti-feminism, antifeminism, domestic violence, men's rights, misogyny, MRA. Bookmark the permalink. 239 Comments.