The Chuckles Turned to Guffaws: AVFM conference Saturday wrapup

Janet Bloomfield PRs up a storm. Pic borrowed from r/amr.

Janet Bloomfield PRs up a storm.

Well, the AVFM conference is over. I thought I’d post links to some of the media coverage today. I’m not sure Paul Elam and co have quite attained the level of respectability they were going for with the conference. It probably didn’t help that their PR gal, Janet Bloomfield, kept posting about “whores” and then, during the final panel discussion, delivered a passionate defense of “doxxing.”

Anyway, here’s the press coverage today:

Men’s rights conference takes aim at feminism, by Adam Serwer, MSNBC.

Serwer presented a sardonic take on the conference, full of revealingly awful details. Some highlights:

What animated most of the speakers at the conference was feminism and how it needed to be defeated. …

At the conference, feminism was responsible for turning wives against their husbands, bleeding them dry in divorce proceedings and separating them from their children, levying false accusations of rape and abuse against good men, or creating an ever-present culture of hatred where men are vilified.

Though men’s rights activists who hosted the conference often say sexual assault against men isn’t taken seriously, the audience laughed when speaker Fred Jones mentioned his fears about his son being raped after being arrested in New Orleans.

“He’s kinda small and kinda cute, good looking, you know what I mean?” Jones said. “You know what they do with –” Jones cut himself off. But the audience laughed.

Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post, argued that …  [r]ape on college campuses … was a myth perpetrated by man-haters …

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” she said, drawing chuckles from the audience. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.” The chuckles turned to guffaws.

The First International Conference on Men’s Issues: Day 1, by Arthur Goldwag, Hatewatch

On the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog, Goldwag — who wrote that famous SPLC  takedown of the Men’s Rights movement — delivered up a surporisingly straightforward account of the first day of the conference. Some highlights:

A Voice for Men’s Paul Elam warned attendees to keep low profiles, lest they be harassed by protesters, and made much of the police presence he had secured. There were indeed uniformed policemen on site, and quite a few black-shirted security guards. There were camera crews from Vice and a number of reporters. But the only sounds to be heard outside the VFW Hall were chirping birds and the hum of passing traffic—there wasn’t a protestor in sight. I counted between 150 and 200 people in the hall. …

The Canadian Senator Anne Cools, who opened the conference, spoke at great length about how feminism has hijacked Canada’s family courts, quoting Blackstone on women’s rights, the song “Frankie and Johnnie” and even Euripides to give lie to the supposed feminist myth that women were historically oppressed. Frankie and Medea, she implied, both gave as good as they got. Erin Pizzey, the well-known novelist, ex-feminist, and founder of Chiswick Women’s Aid, one of the first women’s shelters, indicted the movement she had once helped lead as a radical Marxist plot to turn women against men, destroy families, and create a billion dollar social welfare industry.

My Experience at the First International Men’s Conference So Far, by Helen Smith, PJ Media

And then there was “Dr. Helen,” writing on her blog on the right-wing website PJ Media. Dr. H, one of the speakers at the AVFM conference, described her time amongst the MRAs as “quite a delight.” Indeed, her account was so chipper I found myself wondering if she had even attended the same conference as Serwer and Goldwag — or the conference I watched several hours of online.

The crowd of what looked to be about two or three hundred people were diverse and ranged from all ages to all ethnic backgrounds. There were more men there but almost as many women it seemed! … I was in awe and amazed at the great group of intellectual speakers and the audience who asked questions that were critically thought out and challenging.

Yeah, definitely a different conference.

She did have one worry, though: that other people were there to report on the conference besides her.

My only concern with the conference was the media that was present. It seemed that reporters from Time, MSNBC, GQ, and were there. I got an uneasy feeling about a few of them though I suppose their stories could go either way, though I think I know which way to bet. There were a couple of women from that we sat with at an appreciation dinner for speakers who seemed very nice but frankly, a bit clueless.

I’m guessing those women from are a lot less “clueless” than Dr. H thinks.

See the AgainstMensRights subreddit for more discussions of the conference. I borrowed the pic for this post from 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,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on June 28, 2014, in a voice for men, antifeminism, antifeminist women, imaginary oppression, misogyny, MRA, rape culture, rape jokes, reddit and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 298 Comments.

  1. Huzzah, good riddance!

  2. Toodle-oo Justin! I feel great pity for all the message boards you will crap up in the future.

  3. I’m not normally a great fan of banning people, but there’s a certain type of troll who combines arrogance, pomposity, verbosity, insincerity and desperately flailing unoriginality in one repulsive package – and those can’t be got rid of quickly enough. (Remember B______n?)

    If they’re interesting, fine. If they’re entertaining, even finer. But if they’re both offensive and deeply, deeply boring, what’s the point of indulging them?

  4. They’re various degrees of offensive by default – they’re bloody misogynists, after all – but I am totally in favour of banning the instant they get into rape apology or targetting regulars.

  5. It looks like lots of people are responding to Justin’s “questions” and I’m finding the answers interesting so I’ll throw in my 2c worth and see what you think.

    “So here are my questions to a female centric audience. Do you think there is parity in child custody outcomes? Do you think fathers are important? What do you think a father should do when he wants to be involved with his child(ren) and the mother does not want this? I welcome your responses.”

    This is really, really slippery framing of the questions. The first two are framed as simple yes/no questions, when they aren’t simple at all.

    1. No, I do not think there is parity in child custody outcomes. The outcome depends on a lot of issues and none of this is easy. The court needs to know about the relationship between the parents and the children. The one who spends most quality time with them and on whom they unthinkingly depend is in the strongest position because the children may be traumatized by being separated from them. Most courts assumed that the primary caregiver is the mother because until very recently that’s been the way families have been set up. This isn’t always the case now. Now both parents may work and may spend pretty much equal time with the children and if this is the case it needs to be made very clear. In this case the children may be traumatized by being separated from either parent, so in order to serve the interests of the children you may need a 50/50 arrangement, with parents behaving like grown ups and putting thier own problems asside in order to give the children what they need. If men want more time with their kids they need to say so and prove their involvement with and love for those children.

    Something I’ve noticed reading a lot of stories from aggrieved MRA fathers is that almost always they talk about thier children as playing pieces or weapons to use against thier ex-wives and how unfair it is that they don’t have custody. They don’t usually say that they want custody because they love their children and want to be with them. It’s all very odd. It’s even more odd if they balk at paying child support. If they love their children they’ll pay child support and be happy about it because it means their beloved children are being well cared for. If the parents are acting like grown ups and are reasonably neutral or friendly he’ll get to see where his money is going. This works for women paying child support too. Of course the point us moot if it’s a 50/50 arrangement.

    Of course, all of this falls down if either parent is abusive. Nobody who is abusive is fit to raise their kids, regardless of their sex.

    2. *Eyeroll* Of course fathers are important! By that I men kind, loving, involved fathers who want to be part if their children’s lives. So are mothers as long as neither abuse the children or each other.

    3. Then they need to come to a reasonable accomodation and work together to give their children what they need. This is what adults do. Arguing in front if the children will only upset them and every non-abusive person should be able to spend time with their children.

    Is this realistic, do you think? Most of my divorced friends seem to get along happily enough with this kind of arrangement.

  6. For me, custody parity means that the most appropriate parent has the children. How on earth one would go about assessing that is a piece of research design I don’t even want to think about.

    There’s also the custody arrangements where the parents have come to a mutual decision outside of court. In my small personal experience of three friends having their relationships split up, of which two were marriages, none of them went through the court process at all.

    So, for assessing custody parity, do we include the non-court arrangements or not? Fundamentally, the issue is also who gets to make the call whether each custody arrangement is, in fact, in the best interests of the child/ren? This would be such a minefield to get into.

    The low proportion of appeals against court decisions is not evidence there is no issue – appeals cost money and poor and middle class people often don’t have access to the funds required to conduct an appropriate appeal. However, in a number of cases there possibly is no “best” parent at a “beyond reasonable doubt” level of proof and the case may be decided on “balance of probabilities”. In lots of those instances, where each parent is roughly equal with respect to providing the child/ren with a loving home, then I’m not sure how any court decision could be “wrong” as definitionally there doesn’t appear to be a “wrong outcome” that is possible.

    But yeah, really sick of hearing about how MRAs are robbed of their children. Surely being an MRA makes the person an unfit parent by default anyways? The probability of a child being brought up to despise females is not something I would think a court would ignore in its custody decisions.

  7. Flying Mouse

    Argenti, I give you a standing ovation for your extreme fortitude in dealing with Justin’s tortuous rounds of data-twisting, dismissing, and look-over-there-ing. You sounded like you were having fun with the number-crunching – I hope that was the case!

    Adding another “huzzah!” to the news of Justin’s ban. How could anyone that obnoxious and disingenuous still be that damned boring?

  8. Wetherby, that is indeed gratifying.

  9. So glad Justin is gone. Notice, again that he pretty much completely ignored my existence. He came here looking for women to mock, pretty sure, and I didn’t fit his paradigm so he just pretended I didn’t exist.


  10. Argenti Aertheri

    FM — thanks, and yeah, it’s been awhile since we had a troll I could bury in numbers.

    Pallygirl — much as I appreciate the statistical answer, I have to disagree about chocolate ice cream! Rainbow sprinkles truly are vile though.

  11. There’s a Usenet acronym that came to mind while skimming Justin’s herd of teal deers – MEGO. My Eyes Glaze Over.

    Wonder if he knows the ‘this is my observation as a dude’ dude?

  12. Justin was being dishonest in his questions, e.g., Do you think there is parity in child custody outcomes?

    Buried in there is a begged question: there ought to be parity in child custody outcomes. I don’t think parity is relevant. The desired outcome should be that which is in the best interest of the child.

    But such an answer wasn’t available; because Justin chose to frame the question in way which would force the discussion into his pet issues, where (I am sure) he had some stock responses lined up. His unwillingness, when pressed, to explain which aspects of child custody he wante to discuss made that plain.

  13. cassandrakitty

    I’m not sure why it’s so hard for people to grasp the idea that the goal of child custody hearings is to secure the best outcome for the child. If one of the parents isn’t happy with that outcome, too bad, it’s not about them.

  14. kittehserf MOD

    MEGO. My Eyes Glaze Over.

    ::scribbles note to remember this::

    Buried in there is a begged question: there ought to be parity in child custody outcomes. I don’t think parity is relevant. The desired outcome should be that which is in the best interest of the child.

    Yup. The minute it’s asked that way, there’s a damn good chance it’s about ownership of the child and punishment of the woman.

    Also YAY for seeing

    begged question

    used properly. “Begging the question” used to mean “asking/posing the question” is fingernails-down-a-blackboard stuff for me (yes Tony Robinson I’m looking at you).

  15. The speech by Senator Anne Cools is here (part 1)

    Also, Press Progress and MSNBC have something about it.

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