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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 Vice.com 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 Vice.com 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 Vice.com 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.

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Bonelady
Bonelady
7 years ago

Dr. Helen made a strange remark near the end of her account — “…the organizers did a good job considering the circumstances…” What was that about, I wonder? I suppose that AVfM will declare the conference a resounding sucess, which will make them happy, and a good time will have been had by all (>_<), except, of course, feminists, which will be as Elam & co. intended. So, fair enough.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

200-300 people? Bless Dr Helen, such an optimist.

filo4000
filo4000
7 years ago

You have no idea how giddy I am that you used a picture I posted

brooked
brooked
7 years ago

@Bonelady

The circumstances are the often mentioned threats from violent feminist terrorists, of course! Despite their history of doxxing people and constantly downplaying the harassment women face online, everyone in the AVfM clown car are playing up the alleged threats as the most worst oppression ever. It’s a pretty fucking sad attempt at me-tooism.

pecunium
7 years ago

Oh, the conference was only two days.

So, 3 cops, times 10 hours, times 2 days at $100US per hour = $6,000.

So Paul “I need your hard earned money” Elam cleared ~25,000USD on the Security claim.

If the City only billed $75, then you only add another $1,500 to the take.

Pretty good for a few days work.

cloudiah
7 years ago

Hey, I’m at a conference too! Mine is in Vegas! (I had forgotten how much I hate Vegas.)

There are about 20K people at my conference. There’s also an official twitter account, that as far as I’ve seen has not been calling people wh*res. I guess that’s why this conference is so unsuccessful.

sadiesummer
7 years ago

so it’s all over now?

pecunium
7 years ago

Ok, so my top end figures out to be (3*5)+(3*2*10)*$100= $6015

What did he say he pulled in? 30K? Or was it more like 33K?

So the net on the Security Scam was somewhere between 24-29,000USD.

Still pretty good wages for what… ten hours of actual work (i.e. the begging, the time to set up the pitch, time to set up the contract with the city).

Alice Sanguinaria
7 years ago

I wonder whether people are going to post about JB’s defense of doxxing — and threat. I would think they would; such a statement doesn’t go unnoticed.

schwadevivre
schwadevivre
7 years ago

Errr, I thought that they had so many registrations that they needed the extra hall space, what happened?

I’m wondering if the convenient “threat” was just an excuse for publicity because they had so few registrations. Then it became more useful because the hotel did not have sufficient bookings to trigger lower rates on the conference venue.

fauxmy
fauxmy
7 years ago

@pecunium — you forgot to account for the time and money for the hall decor. those 4 sad pink streamers from a disco ball could not have come cheap. :/

cloudiah
7 years ago

It is 11 pm and still 97 degrees here. Vegas. Dog help me.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Can I have the Vegas weather without having to have the rest of Vegas? I feel like they should borrow the DisneyWorld slogan and call it The Tackiest Place On Earth.

kittehserf
7 years ago

schwadevivre – yeah, the whole threat thing read like a scam or, at the very least, trying to cover their arses, from the beginning, didn’t it? Pauly’s probably made a nice little profit from his gullible followers. Not that I feel sorry for anyone contributing to his site.

pecunium
7 years ago

Fauxmy: I am assuming all the other costs (decor, drinks, the bizarre badger banners) were all budgeted from the pre-conference revenues.

I’m guessing the Hilton was being honest about AVfM not being able to meet contractual obligations. My cynical self says someone decided to drum up “Publicity” by calling/mailing some threats and that caused the hotel to demand a level of police security they couldn’t afford (because the begging campaign still has five days to run, and is up to $32,625USD, so if the costs really were that high, they didn’t have the cash in hand: yep… Elam, et al,, are so good at organising), and so they had to move; which led to a windfall.

My really cynical self says they were so underbooked they couldn’t meet the room-night minimums, and so were looking at out of pocket they didn’t have, so they spun up a story about needing security, planned the move, and lucked into about 25 grand, after the ~4-6,000 they had to spend on the cops they needed to hire to save face.

kittehserf
7 years ago

97F, 36C – ewwww! I hope you’ve got good air-con there, cloudiah.

@pecunium — you forgot to account for the time and money for the hall decor. those 4 sad pink streamers from a disco ball could not have come cheap.

LOL!

katz
7 years ago

Cloudiah, would it be gauche to ask how far along in my novel you are?

brooked
brooked
7 years ago

Both Helen Smith and Suzanne Venker spoke at the presser but they aren’t listed on the schedule of speakers. Did they take part in a panel or were they there to bolster the anti-feminism for the press?

For all their honey badger nonsense, AVfM really needed to bring in female professional anti-feminists from the conservative movement to keep the conference from looking like a bunch of pissy guys listing grievances. It was Venker and Smith, and to a lesser degree Pizzey and Cool, who peddled the typical conservative feminist conspiracy theories with any real success, while the actual MRAs didn’t have any broader theoretical basis, or any real thought, beyond their usual threadbare statistics and hurt feels.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

I love Las Vegas despite its many flaws. That’s probably just because my grandparents lived there and I have many fond memories of going on family road trips to visit them. We would always drive and visit the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, The Petrified Forest, Four Corners etc.

There are actually some cool things to see if you leave the strip. Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon are both lovely. Mount Charleston is much cooler than the valley is so it’s a nice break from the heat. There’s also a cool nature reserve in the middle of the city. I forget what it’s called but there’s a small zoo and a museum.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Las Vegas is actually OK. But only if you know locals and go places that aren’t typical tourist spots.

I also love the dry desert heat. And the geology. Whenever I fly there during the day and have a window seat I like to pretend I’m an astronaut landing on Mars because the area surrounding the city is all red colored and rocky.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Katz,
For some reason I love the word gauche. Maybe because it reminds me of Rebecca. The word is used an awful lot in that book. I don’t know about the movie because I am terrible and still haven’t seen it even though I love the book and I love Hitchcock movies.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

I love the desert too, but I used to live in the Sahara, so the desert around Vegas doesn’t really make up for all the casinos and associated tourist tackiness from my perspective.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Yeah, the culture there sucks. I just like the desert.

pecunium
7 years ago

Amusing facts about San Francisco, and Las Vegas: Both got a large part of their start from Mormon immigration.

Go figure.

pecunium
7 years ago

I love deserts. Joshua Tree, and the inner Mojave are probably my favorite deserts, but the Sonora (esp. in the Huachucas and Chiracaua) is also pretty nice. Not enough time in Las Vegas to have any strong opinions of it

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

It’s kind of like Dubai. Awesome, beautiful surroundings that are somewhat spoiled by the giant, tacky monument to capitalism stuck in the middle.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Is this a good place to share favorite local nature spots? It seems more interesting than MRAs. Here’s my favorite place in Minnesota, Gooseberry Falls. It’s near Lake Superior.

Tessa
Tessa
7 years ago

Ok I was reading the MSNBC article and the quote from Dr. Tara Palmatier stuck out as very telling:

When men can be shamed just for being men, and women no longer have any sense of shame, it creates a dangerously lopsided dynamic between the sexes

I wish I had the full context of what exact part of “just being men” they are getting shamed for. I can guess. Usually this is in regards to treating women as sex objects. Like the scary “it’s like putting steak in front of a hungry dog and not expecting him to eat it!” The slideshow pics I’ve seen seem to confirm it.

The women part is easier to interpret. But put together they’re really interesting.
You shouldn’t shame men for their behavior towards women.
Women should be shamed about how they dress themselves.

Basically, “if you girlies don’t want the men to treat you like sex objects, keep your body covered.”

How do they not see how disrespectful to men that is? Men are all urges and unable to be anything else. It’s up to women to control men’s behavior by not triggering their sex response.

It reminds me of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. “Don’t move, its vision is based on movement.” So for men it’s “cover up ladies, their vision is based on skin.”

I’m sorry, I have more respect for men than that. I think men are capable of seeing me as a human regardless of what I wear, or don’t wear. And really, how can we expect the MRAs to agree with “the radical notion that women are people” if they don’t even seem to believe that men are people.

Toolbox
Toolbox
7 years ago

MRAs keep men at the lowest level of self-control.

Dare a man see side boob, he may be compelled to hump the woman’s leg. And then he may be falsely accused of rape, all for the injustice of trying to ‘become her fantasy’ or something.

It’s funny, ’cause they bleat about misandry and rape hysteria, and yet it’s their very views that give rise to concepts like Rape Culture and Schrodinger’s Rapist. All because they believe men cannot control themselves when they see things like a sexy ass. And then they call us the misandrists….

Leisha Young
Leisha Young
7 years ago

Jesus! Even the Atheist convention in Australia drew a crowd of over 1500 people from all over the world in its first year (in a pretty remote part of the world), then approx 4500 the following year. We are yet to have another, but something tells me…

Bumpy
Bumpy
7 years ago

I love how this is front page msnbc and I love the tears here after everyone figured out: No wait, don’t protest, it makes us all look stupid… and how the conference still got attention.

kittehserf
7 years ago

So for men it’s “cover up ladies, their vision is based on skin.”

Or rather, “their vision is based on you existing while female,” since it doesn’t matter how covered a woman is, men will still harass her and worse, and blame her for it.

kittehserf
7 years ago

All because they believe men cannot control themselves when they see things like a sexy ass.

Not only cannot, but should not have to. Any suggestion that they should treat women as people brings screams that we are demonising men’s sexuality. These are the same men who insist that men are the intellectuals, the rational ones, not prey to nasty squicky emotions or base desires.

Toolbox
Toolbox
7 years ago

Luckily, we have Erin Pizzey and Karen Straughan to inform us that women like such abuse.

Only man hating lesbians with abusive fathers hate being controlled and harassed by a good man.

Feminists are unreasonable, throw wine glasses at them.

Lids
7 years ago

Oh my goodness, that pathetic picture with only like 30 men in the audience. Someone please fetch the extra strength smelling salts, I think I might having a laughter-induced fainting fit.

marinerachel
marinerachel
7 years ago

Hey now, I think they reached the 150 – 200ish number at their peak. Sure didn’t need the increased capacity provided by the VFW facility though….

Lids
7 years ago

@ marinerachel
my bad

Lids
7 years ago

Someday I will successfully use the HTML on this site.

Lids
7 years ago

Here, this works too.

Wetherby
Wetherby
7 years ago

I love how this is front page msnbc and I love the tears here after everyone figured out: No wait, don’t protest, it makes us all look stupid… and how the conference still got attention.

What a bizarre argument. Do you want to have another go to see if you can get it to make sense second time round?

brooked
brooked
7 years ago

Does Bumpy think the MSNBC article is flattering? I think he doesn’t quite get who and what are stupid in all of this.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

I wonder if Bumpy is so unused to reading actual news sites that he’s failed to notice the bemused mockery radiating from that MSNBC article.

Tessa
Tessa
7 years ago

kittehserf :
All because they believe men cannot control themselves when they see things like a sexy ass.

Not only cannot, but should not have to. Any suggestion that they should treat women as people brings screams that we are demonising men’s sexuality. These are the same men who insist that men are the intellectuals, the rational ones, not prey to nasty squicky emotions or base desires.

But that’s the brilliance (evil) of it.
1)Men are intellectual unless a woman is around.
2)This is completely natural so must not be questioned
So only aspect that SHOULD be changed is proximity to men when intellecting.

This also means that even if they believed women were equally intellectual, they are still a distraction. So any possible contribution will be lessened by making men less intellectual. None of this is the man’s fault and must not be questioned!

Sir Bodsworth Ruggleby III
Sir Bodsworth Ruggleby III
7 years ago

So basically the talks were just the usual crap only spoken out loud rather than written down? Hm. Still, maybe the presence and charisma of the speakers was enough to make it worthwhile to the paying audience.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
7 years ago

Congratulations on being achieving attention! Not that it’s good attention, but hey, people are looking at you! Attention=success, right?

Justin
Justin
7 years ago

What is all the hoopla about? I watched some segments of the Men’s Conference online and viewed many of their current website offerings. I did not agree with all of their opinions and found the speakers somewhat resistant to well thought out challenges from the audience. However, they at least met the low bar of discourse set by much of the mainstream media these days such as the daily spew from Fox News. They did voice a number of salient points impacting men and I would argue this is needed.
I think everyone agrees that the handling of rape culture by the Voice for Men crowd is unfortunate and self defeating. However, I did not get the impression at anytime that they endorse rape. What they were trying to address is the dangerous temptation for law enforcement and the education system to circumvent due process over a very emotionally charged issue given the poor handling rape has received in the past. While false imprisonment and false accusations of rape are arguably far less common than rape itself, the consequences of conviction can be more life impacting than the act so it’s important to get it right. Both victimization by rape and convict for rape or any sex crime for that matter are very serious things.
The conference did present an interesting viewpoint in addressing their beliefs on the cause of rape culture as a cycle of violence stemming from child abuse and fatherlessness. This is a point worth making. It is not disingenuous for them to observe that women have agency in this environment. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, women are 3 times as likely to abuse children as men. Seventy percent of divorces are initiated by women (American Academy of Pediatrics) who in turn garner sole custody of children in the overwhelming majority of cases, and 40% of children are born out of wedlock. Women’s groups are never shy to educate young men about the fact that they do a lot of raping and rightfully so. However, I find it equally appropriate for a man’s group to educate women that they create a lot of rapist through ever more casual life preference decisions like choosing to have a child out of wedlock or leave a marriage. I am sure women are largely unaware of the frequency with which they physically and emotionally abuse their male off-spring. Of course, both camps deflect blame with flippant attitudes like “women invite rape” or “the kids drive me crazy” and “I don’t need a man”. Never the less, both camps need the criticism.
Unfortunately, the Men’s Conference did not quite connect the dots on two calls for action under their own rape prevention theory: family law reform to allow fathers access to their children and educating the ever withering numbers of fathers that do have access on the importance, amount and type of involvement conducive to raising a healthy child. At least they are having the conversation so maybe they eventually will.
In the Manosphere there are a lot of blogs that equivocate to skinhead levels of hate speech. A Voice for Men is not one of them. They are certainly intentionally hyperbolic and provocative in an attempt to cut through the noise, but they are not there yet. They have not received any mainstream media exposure that I can find. If and when they do, they will have to temper their delivery if they would like to be relevant. Until then, I think attempting to organize to fill a vacant social need is an admirable thing even without perfect execution. I think it might be prudent to withhold judgement and see how they develop. In comparison, I find the whole of Fox News and the lifestyles blogs on the Huffington Post more damaging both in message and proliferation.

Sir Bodsworth Ruggleby III
Sir Bodsworth Ruggleby III
7 years ago

Oh look it’s Woody’s pompous twin.

Jo Cool
Jo Cool
7 years ago

Every time MRA types or their supporters try the “well you have to admit they have some valid viewpoints” you just show how much they really don’t. Are we actually supposed to treat statements like “women creat rapists casual life preferences” or “conviction of rape can be more life impacting (than being raped)” like they were reasonable, intelligent arguments? They’re not, and the fact that you think they are only shows you’re own misogyny and lack of intelligence.

Jo Cool
Jo Cool
7 years ago

*er, that last you’re should be your.

Wetherby
Wetherby
7 years ago

However, I find it equally appropriate for a man’s group to educate women that they create a lot of rapist through ever more casual life preference decisions like choosing to have a child out of wedlock or leave a marriage.

This is taking victim-blaming to a whole new level of stupid. I’d almost be offended if it wasn’t so pitiful.

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