How to Lose a Debate in 45 Minutes: Paul Elam fumbles his debate with Matt Binder

So, that happened.

The debate between Matt Binder (from the Majority Report) and Paul Elam (from A Pile of Money for Paul Elam) went off yesterday. I can’t say it went off without a hitch, because it was actually quite hitch-full. Indeed, it was kind of a disaster — at least for one Paul Elam.

Paul’s the one who wanted the debate. He chose the topic, he chose the format, he controlled the venue. And he lost the debate rather spectacularly, grimly reading a succession of prepared statements while Binder shot down his arguments with common-sensical one-lines and raised issues that Elam didn’t or couldn’t address.

Binder rattled Elam early by presenting him with an unattributed quote that sounded virtually identical to Elliot Rodger’s misogynistic rants and which Elam dismissed as something that no MRA would ever say; Binder then revealed that it was a quote from Stefan Molyneux, the MRA “philosopher” who was one of the featured speakers at AVFM’s recent conference. (Indeed, it was a quote that I highlighted in my first Misogyny Theater videos on Mr. M.)

Then, after Elam read off a list of all the various women who have associated themselves in some way with AVFM, Binder knocked the wind out of him by asking, quite simply, so what?

The most surreal moment, in a debate full of surreal moments, came 39 minutes into the debate. Binder had spent much of his previous two segments discussing an assortment of issues that the Men’s Rights movement largely ignores, even though they primarily affect men, and men of color in particular — from stop and frisk policies in major cities to the deaths of American soldiers in wars overseas.

But instead of answering Binder’s question –why hasn’t the Men’s Rights movement actually tried to do something about these problems? — Elam instead read his prepared “closing statement,” responding not to anything Binder had argued but to the arguments Elam, writing the statement before the debate, had assumed he would make.

And so, after hearing Binder passionately argue that the MRM needs to fight for the rights of men in prison and for the lives of men sent to fight and possibly die in wars, we heard Elam beating away on a straw man, declaring — after calling him a bigot — that Binder

has been led to believe, quite falsely, that gender justice mandates the summary rejection of all men’s problems in favor of a view that can only see men as the problem.

The debate, such as it was, lurched to its conclusion¬†in an assortment of miscues and technical glitches a few minutes later. Dean Esmay, the incompetent and often ineffectual “moderator” of the debate, rocking back and forth on his chair in a darkened room, eyes mostly closed, plaintively asked Binder to send him “that particular story” on stop and frisk in New York city that Binder had referred to earlier in the debate. Esmay, defensive and exasperated, explained that

we are an all-volunteer organization and we don’t see every story. I’d like to see that story from Matt, please do send it to me.

Binder, incredulous, pointed out that stop and frisk has been in the headlines for years, as Esmay, visible in a small box at the bottom of the screen, rubbed his head as though he were developing a migraine. Esmay repeated his request, saying that

we cover a lot of stories; I’m just asking for you to send me that.

There were then a few uncomfortable moments as Esmay and Elam tried to figure out how to close down the Google Hangout that was hosting the debate.

Esmay: “Are we off?”

Binder: “Still says ‘live’ for me.”

Esmay: “Paul?”

Elam: “Yeah, I’m still having problem with the button.”

Esmay laughs.

Elam: “Isn’t that wonderful?”

Long silence. Esmay rocks back and forth on his chair.

Esmay: “Just close the window.”

A few moments later, he did.

I think we may need to have another AVFM graphics contest, incorporating what I think should be AVFM’s new slogans:

“I’m still having problem with the button.”

“We are an all-volunteer organization and we don’t see every story.”

A Voice for Men is clearly not ready for its closeup.



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 July 11, 2014, in a voice for men, misogyny, MRA, paul elam, straw feminists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 649 Comments.

  1. “we have to have at least one person here who knows who Gackt is, right?”

    Yep, I think when that came up is when you told me to get out of your playlist! And that saddens me, I want my artists like EA, not like assholes (I hear she’s a sweetheart in person)

  2. cassandrakitty

    He’s just really sexist about relationships, and prone to being a bit creepy sexually. Which unfortunately is common enough among musicians that if you were to strike everyone like that off your playlist you’d be left with not much to listen to.

  3. Yeah, I know, but blarg all the same.

  4. Oh dear. I’m maybe five minutes into this video and already it’s over in my opinion. How many times does it need to be said that Rogers’ target was women and the people he injured and killed were collateral damage to him. And to deny that what he said sounds MRAish …I don’t even have the right words to describe it.

  5. Well, that was hilarious. I figured since Crazy Eyes there had his whole argument scripted–I’m not surprised that he thinks he can see the future; he even looks like some hack late night tv psychic–he’d have a prepared closing statement, but to actually hear it was comedy freaking gold.

    And the time of it their “operations manager” had…well…operating things. I can’t think of a better statement about that entire “movement” whose biggest presence outside of their piss-and-moan forums is on a website dedicated to nutshot videos and children singing Disney song covers. I wonder how many of them cried themselves to sleep after that embarrassment.

    I was hoping that Binder guy would roll Elam up and burn him like the ditch weed he is, but Elam did it for him. He failed to address any of Binder’s points with much more than some form of “nuh uh!” before going back to mumbling over his ranting essay. PaTHETic.

  6. Valerie Glass

    LOL Yes, ELAM FUMBLES – I think rather what you should say is that Binder is full of misrepresentations and lies and can’t even get his facts straight on things that were covered on a voice for men, let alone explain the absolutely SERIOUS feminist article that was the subject of Elam’s satire.

  7. emilygoddess - MOD

    LOL ok Valerie. What alternate universe are you writing from? Is it the one with no shrimp?

  8. Or is it the one with nothing but shrimp?

  9. If Valerie is a shrimp, how can zie type?

  10. Coincidently, one of my cats is loafing on a stuffed shrimp toy right now.

  11. And now I want an order of Yang Chow’s Slippery Shrimp.

  12. cassandrakitty

    (Sigh) There we were having a perfectly nice conversation about hot actors and Valerie had to come along and ruin it by throwing shrimp at people. Manners, Valerie. Poor etiquette impresses no one.

  13. emilygoddess - MOD

    Am I dating myself if I say that shrimp thing was a Buffy reference?

  14. kittehserf MOD

    Possibly, but at least you’re explaining something of wotthehell it’s about! :P

  15. Nice to see that Binder referenced Elam’s “satirical, humorous” joy at someday seeing me anally raped, and as expected, Elam just ignored it and let it slide by.

  16. Yeah… MRA’s don’t advocate to end Stop and Frisk because the overlap between MRA’s (note: #NotAllMRAs) and extreme racists is quite large. Even the ones who are not racist bigots seem to be afraid of alienating their also-racist-as-well-as-misogynist base.

  17. So my only real response to this post (other than, as always, great post, noble work, love the ‘lols’ embedded in the edges of each blogpost), is, as a woman, I actually feel a real acute jealousy that Matt Binder (as a man), could actually get this idiot to enter into debate with him. I love it when men stick up for feminism (and challenge misogyny), but I’m just so jealous! Because if a woman (any woman), tried to do the same thing, MRAs would refuse to discuss anything other than how many dicks she’s sucked, how ugly she is, how money-grabbing she is, etc etc. I just wish it were possible for a woman to engage in debate with MRAs without being slandered/harassed/judged about her sexual history and attractiveness. But I guess that’s what makes them MRAs huh? They literally don’t see women as people. I guess in their eyes it’s worth having a debate with a man because they see men as sentient beings, but to them women are crazy, childlike animals with vaginas and boobs attached. Sigh.

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