Spinning out of control: Janet Bloomfield takes A Voice for Men’s reality-distortion field on the road

satirekoolaid

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.

 Andrejovich Dietrich • 7 hours ago  Don't lecture me on measured response.. Teach the violent feminists to keep their hands to themselves.

Notice the upvotes. This was a popular argument in the comments.

 Doug Hart Andrejovich Dietrich • 5 hours ago  I had the hands off approach to dealing with crazy women pounded into me from an early age. If they want equality I say we give it to them.

This comment was a response to one of the only feminists who ventured into the fray:

 Diz Auntie Alias • 19 hours ago  Let it go. I've seen your posts at Manboobz, your agenda is clear. There is nothing wrong with knocking the shit out of someone who assaults you. Women don't get some kind of magical pass on this due to their gender. Maybe you should quit assuming men will give you a pass on violence and stop beating them if you have a problem with it.

One commenter recalled a famous passage in Shakespeare:

 Emilio Lizardo • 8 hours ago  I have stopped being a decent guy.  When a woman in the street tried to snatch away my glasses (she didn't like I was taking pictures of an accident) I decked her. Hard. Called the police on her too. She willingly described the battery she committed and her attempted robbery, because she couldn't conceive of being in the wrong. The police were willing to arrest her.  No women thinks of her violence as violence. They. really. don't. Oddly, at the same time we have VAWA defining women as natural born victims we have Feminist claims that women are qualified for combat. Both can't be true.  I've been hit by women and even had to take knives away from them. Give them the equality they've been asking for.  When confronted by the martial competency differential between women and men, keep in mind Shylock's complaint: The Merchant Of Venice Act 3, scene 1, 58–68.

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:

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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 , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 230 Comments.

  1. Cassandrakitty,

    Yeah, I’m feeling a need to take a break, at the moment. I respect the lot of you, but I’m not sure I can handle this batch of fall out.

    I really enjoy the troll take-downs, and it’s really good to see the mocking of misogyny that David does so well, because that stuff goes under the radar way too often.

    This other stuff? Out of my league.

  2. Yeah, see why I was starting to wonder WTF I’m doing here? As if finding out that your son tried to kill himself wasn’t scary enough, now Robert gets to deal with all kinds of lovely assumptions.

    Yeah, seriously unimpressed by that, and it’s really old, and tiresome. Doing some knitting looks appealing at the moment, partly because this coming up again has me feeling more argumentative and irritated than is probably wise for posting!

  3. cassandrakitty

    I’d really miss chatting to all of you on the regular, but damn, the dynamic going on in those threads is just not one that I’m willing to be a part of, and standing passively by and letting it happen doesn’t feel right either.

  4. It’s kind of like:

    “If you don’t do anything, you’re an awful person, and death”

    “If you do anything, you’re an awful person, and deserve to never be trusted again.”

    Given the choice of those two, I know where I stand, but I have no clue how to say it in a way that won’t just make the other people on the thread more angry with each other.

    It’s not a good month for Mammotheers, is it? Next month will be better, right?

  5. I’d really miss chatting to all of you on the regular, but damn, the dynamic going on in those threads is just not one that I’m willing to be a part of, and standing passively by and letting it happen doesn’t feel right either.

    All of this. I have a break coming up with the move, and I’m kind of glad.

  6. Yeah, this sort of thing is happening too frequently for my taste.

  7. cassandrakitty

    Is there anything that can be done about it? Because I don’t feel good about peacing out right now and leaving Robert and Leum to deal with what’s going on over there when they’re already dealing with worrying about their loved ones, but otoh I’m not sure how to get it to stop.

    This is why I didn’t want to be a mod.

  8. I don’t like being a part of it, and I know the arguments aren’t helping, but I’m sick of saying nothing.

  9. Heh – this is why I would be happy to be a mod: I’d be happy to can it right now.

  10. @emilygoddess,

    First of all, that homeless veteran is not oppressed for his maleness. Like you said, that is an issue of class (and disability). Second, no one here is going to argue that all men have an advantage over all women. The question is: what advantage does a homeless male veteran contemplating suicide have over a homeless female veteran contemplating suicide?

    If he was drafted, which many homeless vets were, his oppression certainly has roots in maleness.
    Even if he was not, most homeless vets are combat vets, the emotional and health factors being rather obvious, so again..
    Gender issues are identified largely by disparity, even when they reveal additional factors when looked at up close. There are men with body-image influenced eating disorders, too, but that does not mean the disparity is not a result of distinctly female cultural issues.

    On another note, I think the accusation of misogyny is unfair to level against MRAs in general, but frankly Paul Elam comes off as misogynist. There’s hatred there of an almost personal, vindictive kind, like that of a victim of abuse. From what I’ve read, I honestly believe he *hates* women, though I don’t know why. The violent anger in that “satire” was so thinly covered that I can’t believe Bloomfield is defending it without shaking her head in private.

  11. cassandrakitty

    I’d have stopped things at the very first comment lashing out at Leum, which is why I didn’t volunteer, because I’m much less inclined to give people leeway than what I think is the general consensus.

  12. If he was drafted, which many homeless vets were, his oppression certainly has roots in maleness.

    Men are never oppressed for being men, because the patriarchy only oppresses women.

  13. I don’t like being a part of it, and I know the arguments aren’t helping, but I’m sick of saying nothing.

    I feel similarly; obviously my default is to say nothing on the grounds that nothing productive is going to come of that sort of argument, but I do have an opinion and both feel like I ought to be able to share it and like I wish I could help the people who I feel are getting unfairly attacked.

    But literally the only solution I can think of is the non-solution, namely, clamp down hard on all arguments as soon as they start. And that’s not a very good option.

  14. I’d have stopped things at the very first comment lashing out at Leum, which is why I didn’t volunteer, because I’m much less inclined to give people leeway than what I think is the general consensus.

    Shit, I’d have canned that snark at Tracy in the earlier thread.

  15. Hand over fist,

    By trying to prove that draft is gender oppression, you’re effectively erasing homeless veterans who were not drafted and female homeless veterans.

    I’m not so sure the draft should qualify as gender oppression anyway. I’d still put that down to class oppression. Men who had money and/or connections were easily able to get exemptions from it. Just look at Dick Cheney, George W Bush, Rush Limbaugh etc. Meanwhile my working class uncle with no connections went to prison for draft dodging.

  16. cassandrakitty

    Oh hey, look, it’s our old friend intersectionality again.

  17. There was also a strong race element to the draft.

    It’s true that when you strip away the other axes, yes, it affected men and not women. But that’s because women were historically forbidden to fight, so if someone was going to be made to do it, it had to be men. So it’s not oppression of men, it’s men suffering splash damage from the oppression of women.

  18. And the start of the topic name keeps reminding me of this song. Have the earworm from me:

  19. Argenti Aertheri

    Well good morning Argenti, I guess now that we’re caught up on Elizabeth it’s time to see what else exploded over the weekend eh?

    It sounds like I will be either exploding, or attempting Elizabeth’s “can’t we all just get along?” on the other thread…I’m hoping for the former, I hate when regulars fight.

    GrumpyOldMan — go watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and report back on whether the little girl who got everything she wanted got it by being nice. No matter how much money your family has, just being nice won’t let you avoid having to deal with people who don’t think you deserve everything you have (they’re just more likely to be correct about that)

    I need coffee…

  20. I have apparently been missing all these explosions, which I am totally okay with. D: I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but… maybe that’s for the best.

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