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.