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Paul Elam: All Your Donations Are Belong to Me

Paul Elam, in his hovel.

Heh. I’m on my annual semi-vacation this week, and was planning on keeping my postings here fairly light. But the news waits for no one. And by “news” I mean the daily parade of ridiculousness coming from the Men’s “Human Rights” camp. So here’s a quick report on the latest bit of high irony involving A Voice for Men.

Well, I was wrong. I’ve often noted that the Men’s Rights movement in general, and A Voice for Men in particular, doesn’t actually provide any real help for any real men. Sure, as far as I can tell, precisely zero of the hundreds of thousands of dollars A Voice for Men has raised from donors over the years has gone into providing actual services for men — say, funding a hotline for troubled men or some other practical program that doesn’t primarily involve yelling at women online. But never let it be said that none of this money gods to help men.

Because, it turns out, that money has been going to help men. Or at least that subset of men that consists of one Paul Elam of Houston Texas.

After being pressed for details about A Voice for Men’s finances by anonymous commenters on Reddit, a certain Twitterer named @DavidFutrelle and a journalist from MSNBC, Elam has finally fessed up and admitted that all the money donated to his website goes directly to him. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Elam had to say in a post from yesterday:

Every dollar donated goes right into my pocket. I spend that money on this website and on activist efforts at my own discretion, considering the opinions of the AVFM management team that volunteers to help run this place. … I depend on the site for my living, and to do as much FTSU as possible while I am at it.

In the past, of course, Elam was a bit more, well, elusive about where the money was going, talking about the costs of paying for web hosting and stock images rather than, say, the costs of paying the mortgage of one Paul Elam. Maybe “elusive” isn’t the correct word. “Deceptive” might be more like it.

You may also recall this pitch he once made for donations (I’ve put the best parts in bold):

I am tired of seeing a comparative handful of men and women cough up the lion’s share of financial assistance when most, even some who come here every day to read and cheer on FTSU, won’t cough up five fucking dollars to help us out; who are just fine as long as none of the burden, even a trivial part of it, is on them. …

[T]he longer I am at this, the less patience I have with dead weight, those who think AVFM is a fucking source of entertainment, or a life preserver for when the tables finally, inevitably turn against them.

In a way, I feel even worse now for most of the men who will make contact with AVfM looking for that lifeline. Unless their story is one that has the potential for me to exploit and gain media attention to THE CAUSE, then all I will have for them is a link to this article.

Well, and perhaps this piece of advice.

If the system has ruined your life, join the club. You are now in the ranks of men you have ignored your whole life. My advice to you is simple. Take your fucking quietly and with grace. Expect the same compassion you have always extended to those men who wore the shoes you are now wearing.

If you want things to change, then stock up on Ramen, get cozy in your studio apartment and join us in the fight to fix this shit. Don’t ask us to help you, but rather give your life the only meaning it may have left, as someone ready and willing to turn your meager existence into helping others who have been similarly screwed over.

In other words, Elam told troubled men turning to his site for help that they should stock up on Ramen noodles — and pay his bills. Oh, and on several occasions he’s boasted about taking donations from people taking the money from their unemployment checks.

As for the other people who put in so much time and energy at his site? As far as I can figure it from Elam’s evasive post yesterday, they earn nothing but a “thanks.”

At the end of each day, even with the incredible levels of help I get from people like Dean Esmay, David King, Al Martin and every one of the incredible people who work at AVFM, I am still target number one. I am a target for feminists posing as concerned MHRAs, yellow hacks like David Futrelle, and a target for many in the media who would love nothing better than to publish my personal financial information after putting their disgusting spin on it.

As you might have gathered from that quote, Elam remains indignant that anyone would even ask where the money goes.

And that goes for the money he recently raised that was supposedly earmarked to pay the security costs of AVFM’s conference. About that, he says only:

we hired four police officials (three officers and one supervisor) for coverage of the entire event and also hired a local attorney, paying his retainer in advance.  We also had to engage our regular attorney, and have not yet been billed for their services.

In effect, we spent the money raised on precisely what we said we would spend it on, and have set aside what little remained for the next conference.

Really? According to costhelper.com, off-duty police officers generally cost $40-60 an hour; this Sheriff’s department puts the costs at $27-$31 an hour for each of its officers, including administrative fees. Even assuming that AVFM paid at the top of this range — $60 an hour — it would have cost them only $7200 to pay for four officers working ten hours each of the three days of the conference.

The amount that AVFM might have paid for legal fees depends on how much their lawyers charge per hour, and how many hours they worked. Assuming each lawyer charged $200 per hour and worked thirty hours over the three days of the conference — which I highly doubt — the cost for their legal assistance would have added up to $12,000. If AVFM actually paid even half that for legal fees I will eat my cats.

Even with these extremely generous assumptions, AVFM would have paid out only a little over $19,000 for security and legal fees. AVFM raised more than $30,000 for “security.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I also ask readers for donations. But I’ve always made clear that aside from donations specifically earmarked for other things the money goes to me. (And the cats.) And I don’t demand that donors pay me $20,000 per quarter — $80,000 a year — on top of whatever donations come in between the quarterly fundraisers, not to mention special “security” fundraisers.

I’m very grateful to those who donate to me — and indeed to everyone who’s contributed time and effort and knowledge and artistic skills to help the site — but I take in only a fraction of what Elam evidently takes in. And I don’t ask for money from those who are themselves broke.

In the comments on AVFM, the regulars are of course rallying around Elam. Then again, I can’t imagine anyone critical of what he does with the money would remain unbanned there for long.

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Posted on July 8, 2014, in $MONEY$, a voice for men, lying liars, MRA, paul elam and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 383 Comments.

  1. “Doctors sometimes ignore patients’ wishes. There’s no support for the notion this is more prevalent within the context or labour and delivery. The idea doctors perform c-sections because they pay more or because they want to get to their golf game is not supported by any evidence.”

    The original is behind a paywall, but I wouldn’t say there’s no evidence that c-section rates are somewhat motivated by money — http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/08/30/216479305/money-may-be-motivating-doctors-to-do-more-c-sections

    “The most common scenario when someone had a c-section they didn’t want goes thusly: The doctor attempted a forceps and vaccuum delivery despite knowing efforts were futile and that vaginal delivery was going to result in brain damage to the fetus. After confirming delivering the baby vaginally simply was not safe to the baby, an emergency c-section was performed.”

    So, one week shy of 29 years ago, my mother was induced, cuz see little me was two weeks late to my appearance into the world. The following day, when everything with me was still fine, but mom was exhausted, they started discussing a c-section, since it wasn’t looking like she was up for pushing me out. Which was when her elderly OB/GYN decided to try forceps first. I was declared “a keeper” a few minutes later.

    That was nearly 30 years ago, seeing how the rates of forcep and vacuum assisted birth have dropped, and c-sections have risen, when there is, logically, no reason to assume that the rates of baby related complications versus stalled labor and the like have changed…well, can’t help but wonder how many women in my mother’s position are given a c-section without anyone trying a non-surgical intervention. (And this was the 80s — once a c-section, always a c-section, I’d have probably been an only child [I've asked her])

    Idk about Canada, but in the US it’s bullshit to say that most c-sections are after a known futile attempt at non-surgical interventions.

  2. I hope things aren’t too humiliating for me when I try applying for EBT benefits. X.X I’m going to have to do it soon since I can’t work and I have less than $100 in my savings now.

  3. Cassandra —

    1) you can buy frozen samosas, which makes me a happy camper, I love those things!

    2) spot on about the “eras” of giving birth — when my mother’s oldest sister was born, my grandmother wasn’t allowed to walk herself to the bathroom for a few day, despite it being an utterly uneventful labor. My mother was home in less time than that, despite having been cut and forcep’ed.

    Gem — that is fucking horrible, I’m so very sorry. I wish all OB/GYNs could be like the one who delivered me and my brother, I’ve only ever heard good things about him.

  4. Ally — they’re almost certainly going to make you look for work, but given your situation it shouldn’t be any more degrading than that unless you get an asshole for a social worker. Try applying online, I know in PA I did that and had a 10 min phone call interview that was just me saying yes a lot — yes that’s my name, yes that’s my addy, etc.

  5. cassandrakitty

    My mother wasn’t allowed to hold me for a couple of days after I was born because she had high blood pressure while she was pregnant. Why she couldn’t have just held me while someone stood by in case she dropped me I’m not sure, and they wouldn’t let her out of bed anyway, but she said they either shouted or sneered at her every time she asked if she could and strongly implied that the high blood pressure must have been the result of her just not trying hard enough to be a good mother.

  6. Goddammit Argenti, I’m craving samosas (and other Desi food) so badly right now. X_X They’re so warm, and crispy, and scrumptious, and :: drools ::

    I guess I’ll have to deal with people telling me to get a job, but I’m still really scared of that. I especially don’t want a man on the phone, although that’s out of my control. It’s either this or hoping that random folks on Tumblr suddenly donate a decent sum. I’m pretty much living on donations at this point, and it’s only because my friend is super nice that I don’t have to deal with rent.

  7. she said they either shouted or sneered at her every time she asked if she could and strongly implied that the high blood pressure must have been the result of her just not trying hard enough to be a good mother.

    …….What the fuck?

  8. cassandrakitty

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that the NHS exists, but the bedside manner of the staff often leaves a lot to be desired. A friend of the family was once left sitting out in the corridor with no top on while waiting to be told what to do next when she went in for a mammogram. The idea that patients are people seems to be a bit challenging for some people within that system.

  9. Because nothing lowers your blood pressure like the constant societal nagging that you are not a good enough mother.

  10. cassandrakitty

    Stiff upper lip! That’s how you get better the British way.

  11. When I worked in a hospital, some of the male doctors were dismissive of the female staff, although it wasn’t always those doctors that were worst with patients. I remember one morning I was overloaded and running late for taking the baby heelpricks, and while I was in the special care unit for babies, there with my phlebotomy tray and taking a sample, this fucking male paediatrician asked in a very loud voice where the lab results for the morning where.

    A friend of mine had him as her paediatrician, apparently he was very nice to patients and their parents. Although pretty much every parent of children where I had to do a sweat test (diagnostic test for cystic fibrosis, the Guthrie had false positives) and he was the paediatrician asked me what I was doing to their child, and asked me why.

  12. So, one week shy of 29 years ago, my mother was induced, cuz see little me was two weeks late to my appearance into the world. The following day, when everything with me was still fine, but mom was exhausted, they started discussing a c-section, since it wasn’t looking like she was up for pushing me out.

    Hah. So my doctor was right! Had my babies in the early 80s. No 1 was almost 3 weeks overdue – so my obstetrician said it had to be a c-section. With which I was most unpleased. Why not induce labour, said I. He put my hand on my overextended belly and said “Feel that! That’s the baby’s head nowhere near the right position for delivery. If we induce you, you’ll have to have a c-section some time later anyway. If we schedule the c-section, you’ll be able to work with the anaesthetist for the spinal and have a much less traumatic surgery.”

    I’ll admit I was still upset about it when it was done, but the baby had done n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to indicate readiness to birth, so his approach was less pain and less struggle all round. (I’m not sure whether he would have given exactly the same advice if I hadn’t been absolutely crippled with softened joints for the previous 5 months. I never asked him.)

  13. Oh lovely, just what I like to see, folks policing poor folks’ food choices. *eye roll*

    RE: The Chartreuse Vegan Capsule

    Where is the “strings” with what you call “food stamps”?

    TROLOLOL you’ve never been on food stamps, have you? You have to have certain income requirements, or disability, or in my state, certain work hours. You can’t use it on hot food. If you ARE on food stamps, you must be from a different country than me, for sure.

    I’m eating quite well, and organically at that, on my EBT budget.

    Damn, child, where you live? Where I am, I get $130 a month. I can eat okay… but not organically! You do realize food stamp amount varies from place to place and is sometimes ungodly tight, right? So you can take your smug “the BEST poor person” attitude and shove it.

    food stamps (EBT people, EBT).

    No, I’m on food stamps. EBT is used for cash benefits as well, plus is vague and meaningless as hell, and fuck it.

    RE: pecunium

    In exchange for that I would be granted 270 dollars a month on which to feed myself.

    DUDE WHAT HOW WOULD YOU HAVE GOTTEN THAT MUCH HOT DAMN. Oh wait, you described a food desert, never mind.

  14. I have serious doubts that CVC was ever on food stamps (which is a conversational term and not something he needed to get huffy about). I’ve never heard anyone talk about how lavishly they could eat on them or scoff at the notion that there’s strings and restrictions. I think that by not knowing you can’t use EBT to buy hot food at the grocery his cover was blown.

    I don’t know if this person is just a weirdo or if he’s an anti-feminist troll trying to bait us into saying horrible things or agreeing them but in either case it’s no coincidence so many of us were side eying CVC for days before he melted down.

  15. RE: WWTH

    I admit to being pretty suspicious as well. If nothing else, because I’ve had the “oh shit, I forgot food stamps don’t cover that!” moment at the grocery store. (My hubby did NOT get fried chicken that night, to his dismay.) I could imagine a really, REALLY self-righteous vegan thinking that their eating style is the magic solution to poverty, because I’ve run into them before, but the cluelessness and weirdness… it feels like someone TRYING to ape the personality, rather than actually having a clue.

    Also, what is the DEAL with “it’s not food stamps, it’s EBT!” Dude, food stamps and EBT are not the same thing. One is a subset of the other. If you had to go through so much effort to get your damn food stamps card, I’d expect you to KNOW IT, since mine in two states states “food benefit” and “cash benefit” on every receipt of every transaction I use it for!

  16. I’ve never heard anyone talk about how lavishly they could eat on them or scoff at the notion that there’s strings and restrictions.

    I have, but only conservative douchebags who are arguing that food programs need to be cut back or eliminated, and that people advocating for increases are just whiney moochers.

  17. I could imagine a really, REALLY self-righteous vegan thinking that their eating style is the magic solution to poverty,

    Lentils are the answer to everything. Poverty, obesity, everything!

  18. Oh no! I haven’t fallen victim to the blockquote mammoth in a while.

  19. emilygoddess - MOD

    Doctors sometimes ignore patients’ wishes. There’s no support for the notion this is more prevalent within the context or labour and delivery. The idea doctors perform c-sections because they pay more or because they want to get to their golf game is not supported by any evidence.

    Oops, I appear to have been misinformed. Thanks for the correction.

  20. kittehserf MOD

    Stiff upper lip! That’s how you get better the British way.

    And tea. Never forget the cups of tea. They work in every emergency.

  21. cassandrakitty

    That’s my favorite part of 50 Shades, the fact that people in it attempt to solve problems by offering their friends/family cups of tea. You know, as Americans do.

    (Rugged manly men are also obsessed with what Americans call soccer and the rest of the world calls football, presumably because whoever edited that piece of crap eventually just gave up on even trying to make it seem credible.)

  22. RE: WWTH

    Lentils are the answer to everything. Poverty, obesity, everything!

    It’s funny because it’s awful and true. (That people say that, not that lentils = solution.)

  23. Gen, I’m so sorry you went through that.

    Cassandrakitty, your mom’s experience sounds terrible too. I’m sorry for her also.

    Pallygirl, what a jerk. Hope most drs you work with are better.

    I absolutely believe a woman should be able to choose how she gives birth. I believe she should be properly informed of the risks for all the various options and be able to decide what’s best for her.

    Personally, I don’t want forceps attempted. If my baby’s in trouble, I want a csection asap. I have too many relatives who’ve had to have surgery to repair damage from forceps deliveries. Also, I live in Texas and there was a fairly well publicized forceps horror not too long ago.

  24. kittehserf MOD

    David probably mentioned it already, but he’s put The Chartreuse Pill on moderation. Hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of that character.

  25. Crap… just checked my records, it wasn’t 270l, it was $170/4 = 42.50 a week for food.

    Memory plays tricks on one, and I was recalling the sense of comfort getting the support would have been, and therefore ended up with a number which would have been somewhat adequate.

    What I do recall was the way I reacted to having money again, when my situation stabilised (GI Bill coming in, part time job, housing issues settled).

    I ate. I also engaged in low-grade hoarding behavior. But what I really recall was that my appetite increased, and for about six weeks I was eating a touch more than I normally would, and a fair bit more than I had been.

    And yah, I’m not really buying the sudden appearance of, “I’m on food stamps, how DARE you question my morals!”

  26. re deliveries… I have a friend who wouldn’t be if C-sections had been a bit more prevalent 45 years ago; and if it had been more widely known/disseminated that tetracycline counteracts The Pill.

    See, her older sister was delivered with forceps, and it was done poorly, causing brain damage. She was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy and, “mild retardation” (thank God the language has changed some).*

    Her parents had been told it was a genetic problem* so they decided not to have any more children (and it was a lot harder having a mentally disabled child back then; lots of people said they should, “put her someplace she can be taken care of”). Were it not for a course of anti-biotics (and a doctor who didn’t know/didn’t check to see if “Mrs” was on the pill) said friend wouldn’t have been conceived.

    None of which obviates the rampant levels of misogyny one does find in OB-Gyns. I’ve been near a lot of pregnancies, and been present/helped in the delivery room for three births (my two middle siblings, and a close friends first child). Even with strong willed women, and supportive partners/family, one of those had a doctor who didn’t really listen to what was being said by the patient, another (I know of) had a doctor who didn’t know the history (child decided to arrive while the OB was out of town) and he ran, roughshod, over the will of the mother.

    One of the three I was present for had a doctor who showed up late, was sort of perfunctory, and didn’t want to explain what he was doing; but was willing to listen to the patient when told that, absent his explaining, no consent was going to be forthcoming. He wasn’t bad, just used to being able to do what he wanted, because he thought it best.

    The thing is, for every anecdote we’ve got, there are others. I’ve got five stories about labor/delivery just for siblings (I have six, but one is very close to me in age), and a good twenty friends who have kids. Just their stories run the entire gambit. So there is a lot of wiggle room for experience to create confirmation bias.

    I suspect, given the social treatment of women who have children (i.e. anything you do will have people telling a mother [sometimes to her face] that she’s “doing it wrong”) it’s probably going to remain contentious throughout our lifetimes.

    *somehow, I don’t know the details, it came out; about 20 years ago, that it was because of the forceps. As a result sister was granted a moderate settlement, which means she lives semi-independently in an pretty good assisted living facility, designed for people who have some difficulty being completely independent. Her parents have moved a fair distance away, but her sister lives in the area, and they see each other with a fair regularity.

  27. Crap…. I got grabbed by the language filter.

  28. Mildlymagnificent — yeah, if you’re that overdue and the kid still hasn’t turned right side down, odds of a vaginal birth aren’t great. I was in position to make my appearance, but failing to do so. I’m kinda surprised you were allowed to go three weeks overdue, but I’m guessing you had the same monitoring my mother did and your wee one was fine, so wait and see. My mother’s induction was a case of test Thursday, get home to voicemail saying to be in the hospital bright and early, she was having a baby whether I was ready or not.

    Pecunium — there are a variety of forcep shapes, some have not been used in decades because of the risks, perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re safest when baby is in position and engaged, but not making the final few pushes.

    Emilygoddess — idk if you were snarking or thanking me for the NPR link (I’m pre-coffee) but if it’s the latter, no problem, as you might expect I have a bone to pick with the drop in non-surgical assisted delivery and rise of c-sections.

    Re: EBT — I get about $170 for food stamps, cash assistance is more like $250 — enough to rent a room in Pittsburgh, not nearly enough here. And Pittsburgh cut their state program for welfare for the disabled, it’s part of why I got stuck moving back to CT. Could I eat well on $170? Probably, but in can cook and am a fan of things you can reheat for a week — boring, but effective. Could it be organic and such? Prolly not. And eating well, at least for me…well, I had no fucking clue I was rickets levels of vitamin D deficient. Between my diet and how rarely I burn (and thus spend outside) I shouldn’t have been. But apparently it’s possible to eat “properly” and still have deficiencies.

  29. And, re Food Stamps: Various states (e.g. NY, Fla) have tried to limit purchases to “healthy” foods, no soda, chips, etc. So far the USDA has denied this.

  30. strongly implied that the high blood pressure must have been the result of her just not trying hard enough to be a good mother.

    *flames shoot from eyeballs*
    Soooo not OK.

    I needed a C-section after over 20 hrs of labor. I was on medical card and that makes matters worse. I have many issues with the care I received at that hospital during my time there. So much so that I wouldn’t send a pet to be vetted there. Still, nothing that bad happened at the hospital that had to change it’s name from “Pinewood” to something else because so many locals started calling it “Pinebox”.

    I’m sorry that happened to you and your mom.

  31. RE: pecunium

    Crap… just checked my records, it wasn’t 270l, it was $170/4 = 42.50 a week for food.

    Ahhhhh, okay, THAT sounds more like what I expected. And yeah, I know what you mean about the sudden influx of money. I reacted the same way, but I still have weird food behavior where I HAVE to have certain things in the cabinet or I get anxious and ED-y. (I kind of do the opposite of hoarding, where if I don’t have things like milk or bread, I just start trying to cut down how much I eat, because obviously I am eating TOO MUCH and SPENDING TOO MUCH and that’s BAD.)

  32. Argenti, I wish I could read the study itself and see what cofounding variables they tried to compensate for. I’m not sure doctors vs non is enough. C-sections correlate with health problems presented in older and poorer patients as well.

    In some parts of the US, folks are so focused on the c-section rate that maternal request sections are difficult to get (& often come with mandatory counseling first). A lot of this is related to the WHO announcing an optimal rate of 5-15% back in the 80s (which was derived from the same location most MRAs get their stats from and was retracted quietly later).

    It is very hard to tell ahead of time which c-sections can be avoided without increasing mortality or morbidity in mothers and babies. I think we should be very careful about complaining about the rate without good evidence.

    Also, an assisted virginal birth (in some cases unassisted ones) is not always a ‘nonsurgical’ option. In some cases, it is simply avoiding abdominal surgery to have pelvic floor surgery (or more than one).

    I think the woman should be clearly informed of the risks of all her options and given the ability to choose with her providers based on her unique situation and circumstances.

  33. Ya know, I’m cool with the money being pissed away on some loser rather than spent on the demented version of “men’s rights” that involves bringing down women. His mortgage – in comparison – is an eminently worthy cause.

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