Categories
a voice for men antifeminism dozens of upvotes drama kings entitled babies frontman fallacy men who should not ever be with women ever misogyny MRA playing the victim reddit sympathy for murderers terrorism

How bad ideas get started: The “Apex Fallacy,” the “Frontman Fallacy,” and the murderer Marc Lepine

Would blabla
Would MRAs still be into the Apex Fallacy if boards of directors looked like this?

So some Men’s Rightsers are up in arms because the powers that be at Wikipedia just deleted a page devoted to a phony “logical fallacy” invented by a friend of Paul Elam. According to the now-deleted Wikipedia page, “the apex fallacy refers to judging groups primarily by the success or failure at those at the top rungs (the apex, such as the 1%) of society, rather than collective success of a group.”

In other words, it’s a convenient way for MRAs to hand-wave away any evidence that men, collectively, have more power than women. Mention that men hold the overwhelming majority of powerful positions in the worlds of politics and business, and, I don’t know, podiatry, and MRAs will shout “apex fallacy” and do a little victory dance. Rich and powerful dudes don’t count, because of poor and powerless dudes!

On the Wikipedia discussion page devoted to the question of deleting the apex fallacy entry, one Wikipedia editor – who voted “strong delete” – noted that

This is men’s rights activist astroturfing. The guy above [in the discussion] isn’t posting examples of its usage because they’re all on websites showcasing brutal misogyny and hateful ignorance, like A Voice for Men.

He’s got a point. When I did a Google search for the term, my top ten results (which may be different than your top ten results, because that’s how Google works) included posts on The Spearhead; The Men’s Rights subreddit; Genderratic (TyphonBlue’s blog); Emma the Emo’s Emo Musings; and a tweet from the little-followed Twitter account of someone calling himself Astrokid MHRA. In other words, five of the ten results were MRA sites, several of them with explicit links to A Voice for Men. (That “MHRA” is a dead giveaway.)

The top result, meanwhile, linked to a post on the blog of the delightful Stonerwithaboner, who doesn’t consider himself an MRA, as far as I know. But he’s still kind of a shit, and he did recently confess to being (as I suspected) the person who was going around posting comments on manosphere sites as David H. F*cktrelle, Male Feminist Extraordinaire ™.

So, in other words , I think it’s fair to say that the term “apex fallacy” has not yet achieved academic or philosophical respectability just yet.

The deleted Wikipedia page attributes the term “apex fallacy” to Helen Smith, a psychologist who is a longtime friend to A Voice for Men, and dates it to an interview Smith gave to the odious Bernard Chapin in 2008.

But the idea seems to be a simple reworking of a bad idea that’s been floating around in Men’s Rights circles for a lot longer than that.

Back in the 1990s, New Zealand Men’s Rights Activist Peter Zohrab came up with what he called the “Frontman Fallacy,” a notion he spread via the alt.mens-rights newsgroup on Usenet and elsewhere; the term has been widely adopted in Men’s Rights circles since then. As Zohrab defined the term,

the Frontman Fallacy is the mistaken belief that people (men, specifically) who are in positions of authority in democratic systems use their power mainly to benefit the categories of people (the category of “men”, in particular) that they belong to themselves.  

So, in other words, if you mention that men hold the overwhelming majority of powerful positions in the worlds of politics, business, and podiatry, MRAs will shout out “frontman fallacy” and do a little victory dance. Rich and powerful dudes don’t count, because of poor and powerless dudes!

Like the extremely similar “apex fallacy,” this idea is rather too silly and facile to count as a real fallacy, but it has proven quite popular with MRAs. Looking through the google search results for “frontman fallacy,” I see links to a wide assortment of MRA sites using the term, including AVFM, Genderratic, Stand Your Ground, Backlash.com, Toysoldier, Mensactivism.org, Pro-Male Anti-Feminist Tech, Fathersmanifesto.net, Mensaid.com, and some others. Like “apex fallacy” it hasn’t made much progress outside the Men’s Rights movement.

What’s interesting about this to me is that this is not the only bad idea that Peter Zohrab has ever had.

Indeed, Zohrab had some extremely bad ideas about Marc Lepine, the woman-hating antifeminist who murdered 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.

While Zohrab, to my knowledge, never explicitly justified Lepine’s killings, he described the massacre in one notorious internet posting as an “Extremist Protest Against Media Censorship.” Of Lepine himself, he wrote

I bet you don’t know he wasn’t a misogynist – because you have been conned by the media (as usual). In fact, he was a Men’s Rights activist (albeit an extremist one), and one of the things he was protesting about was media censorship.

Zohrab went on to say that it was clear from Lepine’s writings – or at least writing alleged to have been written by him —  that

he [was] against Feminists — not against women — he clearly states that he is protesting against various issues which are aspects of Feminist sexism.

Indeed, Zohrab seems not only sympathetic towards Lepine’s “cause” but seems to feel that he was being unfairly misrepresented:

The write-ups on Marc Lepine concentrate on character-assassination. They take things out of context, in the same way that fathers are slandered in the divorce/family court, in order to deprive them of custody or access. …

Marc Lepine was not only not sexist, as the media stated – he was actually fighting sexism!

Lots of MRAs love talking about the “frontman fallacy” or the new and improved “apex fallacy.” They don’t seem much interested in talking about Zohrab himself.

Like it or not, MRAs, this man is one of the leading figures in the emergence of the Men’s Rights movement online, and in the intellectual history of the movement, such as it is.

If I were a bit more paranoid, I might wonder if the emergence of the “apex fallacy” was some sort of an attempt as a rebranding, an attempt to push the “frontman fallacy” and its creator, the old, odd duck Peter Zohrab, with his embarrassingly sympathetic feelings toward a mass murderer of women, down that famous memory hole.

P.S. Don’t read the comments to that MensActivism.org posting, unless you want to get really depressed.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1.1K Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Oliver, while I would agree that feminism should focus on more than just privileged, usually white women getting prestigious jobs, that doesn’t mean the “apex fallacy” exists. The apex fallacy claims that white men aren’t privileged because not all white men are wealthy and powerful. A poor white person is still better off than a poor person of color. A poor man is better off than a poor woman. Bigotry is not going to go away if we just stop talking about it and I give zero fucks if confronting these issues make privileged people feel uncomfortable.

Also, you have no room to talk when it comes to civility. You got off on the wrong foot by declaring that anyone who doesn’t agree with all your opinions isn’t a real feminist or liberal,

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Double ninja’d by Sparky and Trans_commie! 🙂

kittehserf
7 years ago

Hey Omar?

What part of “Misogyny. I mock it” don’t you understand?

We’re not here to listen to you or anyone else bloviating about your pet subjects, let alone be nice to you when you do. We’re here to mock misogyny.

trans_commie
7 years ago

Identity politics has advanced a great deal of our intellectual understanding of the mechanisms and process of oppression, but it has also been corrosive to progressive politics as a whole for two reasons. It has divided and subdivided people against one another and it has been completely co-opted by the core system of exploitation and oppression: capitalism.

Yes, identity politics is flawed because it tends to lead to a homogenizing analysis of oppression that privileges some perspectives over others (see: women of color who were thrown under the bus by white feminists). But the source of those divisions you speak of is white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. There’s no escaping the fact that women’s experiences under capitalism are not the same as those of men under capitalism. That’s why it becomes important to analyze men and women separately – one group has privileges the other doesn’t have.

Also, completely co-opted by capitalism? You have got to be kidding me. Anti-capitalist social justice has existed for decades, and many of its thinkers have been oft-ignored groups such as trans women of color. Radical feminism, for instance, was not invented by white women. In fact, early radical feminism – the ideology that has been oppressive to trans women like me – was actually influenced by trans women of color. There is also a rich history of thinkers who have critiqued capitalism while also factoring in the existence of other forms of oppression, such as patriarchy and white supremacy. Even to this day that tendency exists among anti-capitalists.

grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

No longer should feminists critique inequalities of power and influence *in general*, Ms. Sandberg argues.

I don’t think Ms. Sandberg has *ever* argued *that* per se, but whatever.

trans_commie
7 years ago

And yes, economic oppression is one form of oppression. There are others, like race and ethnicity and sex and gender and sexual orientation, and all of these different systems intersect.

I would like to point out that even an analysis of oppression that presupposes capitalism as the core system (rather than, as you say, assume that economic oppression is simply one form of oppression among many others) needn’t ignore forms of oppression that aid capitalism. There’s a difference between saying “The main system of oppression is capitalism, but women are oppressed in ways that men aren’t” and saying “There’s nothing else besides capitalism.”

trans_commie
7 years ago

I hope I’m making sense. I fear that I’m talking too much in theory-speak. X_X

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Shorter Oliver – “I really really wanted an excuse to call feminists anti-equality, and look, I found one! I am so awesome!”

Bored now, Oliver.

kittehserf
7 years ago

My eyes glazed over the moment they saw Oliver’s wall o’ text.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Summary of most people’s feelings about today’s thread necro.

Brocialist – Feminists should do what I say, because I understand everything so much betteer than they do!

Everyone else – Whatever, dude.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

trans_commie: Yes, you make perfect sense and that is a good thing to point out.

I don’t think Oliver Omar quite grasps the distinction between “capitalism is at the core of all oppression” and “capitalism is the only form of oppression,” though.

Oliver Omar
Oliver Omar
7 years ago

Thanks to Trans Com for some more civil feedback. As for how some of the Mens Rights (American libertarians mostly, right?) folks use The Apex Fallacy or the origin of the concept, I’m not commenting on them or defending them. The idea deserves to be examined aside from how it is used or abused.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

My tone trolling always impresses the ladies, can you tell?

Oliver Omar
Oliver Omar
7 years ago

I don’t think capitalism is the core of all oppression. I think greed and ego are the core and you don’t need capitalism for that.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Fuck off, Omar. Is your reading comprehension this bad? This isn’t a site for debating your pet peeves. It’s certainly not for examining or debating MRAs’ notions, if by that you mean treating them like they deserve serious consideration. Are you really so blind to their rampant misogyny? What’s this shit about complaining about feminists on this site? Go take your mansplaining to Feministe and see how you fare there.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

As for how some of the Mens Rights (American libertarians mostly, right?) folks use The Apex Fallacy or the origin of the concept, I’m not commenting on them or defending them. The idea deserves to be examined aside from how it is used or abused.

MRAs are the only people who are using the “Apex Fallacy.” There is no such thing as the “Apex Fallacy.” It is a completely not-true thing that MRAs made up so that when someone says, “Well, most of the people in power are men” MRAs can go, “Ha-ha! That doesn’t matter because Apex Fallacy!”

How are you going to examine a concept, named and described MRAs, aside from how it is used? How it is used is what it is. You cannot divorce it from its meaning and give it an entirely new meaning. And then expect folks to go along with your idiosyncratic meaning of the term.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

I dunno though, I’m finding necro troll’s attempt at Newspeak vaguely amusing, just because I’m curious to see how well he can hide his tells.

(Not very, so far.)

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Oh, silly necro troll.

Ally–do you have some cites for the origin of radical feminism. I thought it was many women from different background who started it.

Octo
Octo
7 years ago

Yeah, I think you’re confusing cause and effect, Omar. It’s not that women in top positions will cause more gender equality oveall; rather, gender inequality is the cause for there being less women in top positions. Female underrepresentation in top positions is a *symptom*. And if we see more women in top position then it’s a good thing, not by itself, but because it shows that the underlying causes of that symptom are at least *beginning* to recede.

The Good may not only be the enemy of the Better (or More Perfect), some Goods, divorced from a more universal and inclusive agenda, may be counter-productive. Identity politics has advanced a great deal of our intellectual understanding of the mechanisms and process of oppression, but it has also been corrosive to progressive politics as a whole for two reasons. It has divided and subdivided people against one another and it has been completely co-opted by the core system of exploitation and oppression: capitalism.

Yes, that’s very fine and noble in theory, but it is just not a *practical and pragmatical* approach as how to actually help those people! As was said before, your attitude basically leads to sacrificing really existing people in the name of abstract ideals. And that apparently under the belief that we could reach some form of magical utopia if only we could (again, magically, one presumes) rid of capitalism. Both assumptions, that we can just so get rid of capitalism and that then all problems would be solved, are pipedreams. And I’m not willing to sacrifice the actual progression of equal rights for everybody for the sake of such pipedreams – and I completely reject the notions that this is what leftists should do.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

It’s amazing how many ways people can find to spin the “your time will come after the revolution, ladies” line.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Identity politics has advanced a great deal of our intellectual understanding of the mechanisms and process of oppression, but it has also been corrosive to progressive politics as a whole for two reasons.

Shit, just admit you don’t want to think of anyone outside how they relate to your straight white dick.

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

@trans-commie: You manage to use theory-speak and be understandable at the same time. You are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

I’m sorry, Auggz. How should I have said that? Do tell.

trans_commie
7 years ago

Just for the record, I personally don’t think there’s anything transmisogynistic about what hellkell said. It would only be transmisogynistic if she implied that it’s not possible to be a woman with “male” genitals (or not possible to be a man with “female” genitals). But I don’t see that anywhere here.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Auggz: is it possible for you not to be a little Tumblr style dipshit?

Oliver Omar
Oliver Omar
7 years ago

Octo, I’m not confusing cause and effect. That’s Sheryl Sandberg — who thinks the most effective way to advance women’s rights is by getting more women to devote their entire lives (!) to the goal of gaining corporate institutional positions of power.

Oliver Omar
Oliver Omar
7 years ago

Okay, thx for the engagements. Even the meanist.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Ally: thank you.

I should have said “only cares about people he wants to fuck, and these ‘identity politics’ get in the way of his straight white privilege.” Maybe?

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Well, I guess we needed an illustration of how it actually is possible for identity politics to be used in an unproductive way just to make Oliver feel a bit less sad about the fact that he’s been getting his ass handed to him.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Oh boy, a typical accusation of being too social justice warriorish. Original.

OK, how about I really don’t like being splained to and nitpicked by children with no life experience. Perspective, get some.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

“Meanist”?

Oliver Omar
Oliver Omar
7 years ago

Ouch! Maybe that’s the meanest.

Octo
Octo
7 years ago

Yeah the timing of this little spat was just perfect, haha.

And I’m totally down with supporting the great ideology of meanism :p

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Feminists are such meanies! I should be allowed to put bugs in their desks!

(Oliver, age 5.)

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

I wouldn’t want to be accused of meanphobia, so count me in.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

“Meanist” because we didn’t immediately all agree wholeheartedly with Oliver.

Oliver, Sheryl Sandberg has nothing to do with this year-old thread or the “Apex Fallacy.” You came in here all “feminist should” this and “identity politics are tearing the progressive movement apart!” Which also had nothing to do with this year-old thread or the “Apex Fallacy.”

trans_commie
7 years ago

@Ally, I thought it was just a way to add “male” into the privileges, but I guess it could be read differently. Isn’t it transphobic to equate penis with male (and vagina with female)?

Of course it is, but that wasn’t what hellkell was doing. It’s okay to refer to a cis man as having a dick, and then to casually reference that fact in conveying the idea that that cis man is a misogynistic, entitled douche who only cares about his libido. People here say things like “MRA dudebros care about nothing but getting their dicks wet”, but that’s not transmisogynistic because it’s only about stereotypical cis male MRAs.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

You’d think he could have at least found the thread where people were actually talking about Sandberg.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Yeah, I like the idea of being a meanist.

auggz, got to say I agree with hellkell here. When someone’s talking about Mr Straight White Dick it’s a given it’s going to be about cis het guys and their privileges. The fact of it being about privilege says straight away it’s not about trans women.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Or, what Ally said more eloquently. 😛

Fatman
Fatman
7 years ago

This thread has earned the coveted Triple Necro award.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Basically Auggz’s interjection was like if hellkell had said something about thin-crust pizza and Auggz had chimed in with “hey, can we not equate all pizza with thin crust?” and then responded to the “huh?” response with “why do you hate deep dish pizza, you deep dish hating bigot?”. And this conversation had happened while discussing what everyone could plainly see was a thin-crust pizza and proud of it.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Mmm, pizza …

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Seriously, can we trade Oliver for a pizza? His entertainment value seems to have expired.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

And this conversation had happened while discussing what everyone could plainly see was a thin-crust pizza and proud of it.

With extra cheese.

trans_commie
7 years ago

I went to a NY-style pizza place gain in downtown Boulder today – for the first time in 5 years. Everything they had there was as delicious as I remembered it. I love it when folks keep their recipes.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

In this case the pizza in question is older than dwarf bread and has been reheated so many times that you could probably use it as a projectile weapon, like a discus covered in pepperoni.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Mmmmm…NY pizza.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Like B’hrian Bloodaxe’s famed battle bread they found with his body in Thud! – as inedible as the day it was baked.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

NY pizza is fairly thin and..? Not quite sure what “NY style” implies.