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One Last Damn AVFM Conference Update: Man With a Camera Edition

It wasn't this guy.
It wasn’t this guy.

One last AVFM Conference update, with links to two more stories about that historic event.

The first, a gently skeptical Washington Post story by Monica Hesse titled, with a certain irony, “Men’s rights activists, gathering to discuss all the ways society has done them wrong.”

The whole thing is worth reading. My favorite bit:

One presenter, a military veteran speaking on the treatment of veterans returning from war, put up a PowerPoint slide alleging that 70 percent of men returning from war get divorced, and 90 percent do so within five years. When asked about the source of this statistic, he said, “That particular statistic is from my personal observations. I’m just speaking here as a dude.”

Ah, the prestigious Journal of Statistical Dudeness!

The second, well, it’s a bit more disturbing. DarkHorseSwore – a regular in the AgainstMensRights subreddit who raised money to go to Detroit to cover the convention only to be turned away at the door – managed to finally get an audience with some of the conference attendees and organizers – after the convention, as they celebrated at a bar and then in a hotel lobby. She got this access because none of them knew who she was. (Eventually Dean Esmay showed up and had her escorted off the premises.)

Now DarkHorseSwore has set up a website – DarkHorseSwore.com – and has started posting about the strange 5 ½ hours she spent amongst the AVFMers. She tells the tale of a strange encounter with one of the Honey Badgers and then an even stranger tale of an even stranger encounter with an old man and his camera. You’ll have to go read it. Be warned: It’s creepy as hell.

Oh, and she picked up some amazing conference swag as well. And by “amazing” I mean “possibly the worst conference swag I’ve ever seen, I mean, what the hell, and also why are they all beige?”

A wooden necklace thing, symbolizing who the hell knows what!
A wooden necklace thingy, symbolizing who the hell knows what!
A "What Would Honey Badgers Do?" button!
A “What Would Honey Badgers Do?” button!
And last but not least, a Shrink for Men chapstick! It's minty!
And last but not least, a Shrink 4 Men chapstick! It’s minty!

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Luzbelitx
6 years ago

This takes “Holy Shit!” to a whole new level.

Ally S
6 years ago

That story about the old man taking pictures of parts of her body was incredibly creepy. The fact that the AVFMers did nothing to stop him reveals their true feelings about abuse against women. They won’t even fucking stand up to stop a man from harassing a woman RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, instead they’ll just joyfully talk about their shitty reactionary talking points while drunk. Fucking assholes.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Well, at least 70% is a new statistic, so I suppose that’s progress. Shame it’s still being drawn from the murky depths of some guy’s bottom.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

”One presenter, a military veteran speaking on the treatment of veterans returning from war, put up a PowerPoint slide alleging that 70 percent of men returning from war get divorced, and 90 percent do so within five years. When asked about the source of this statistic, he said, “That particular statistic is from my personal observations. I’m just speaking here as a dude.”

Beautiful. MRAs summed up in one paragraph.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

“You look like my daughter”

(Takes close-up pictures of boobs)

Welp, I guess I didn’t really need to sleep tonight anyway.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Who’s the honey badger giving her the evil eye?

Ally S
6 years ago

I think that’s typhonblue.

jared
jared
6 years ago

From the article, sorry for not using block quotes

“The primary through-emotion of the conference attendees — if not the more fiery presenters — wasn’t hatred but a lost, if somewhat self-involved, sadness. Here at the VFW was an island of misfit boys and damaged men, who claimed to have believed in the system until it failed them.”

That is telling in my analogy on the other thread to a “cult like” atmosphere at avfm whereby Elam recruits on vulnerable men and women who are looking for a sense of belonging and meaning in their lives. Perhaps inasmuch as these men could be depressed and sad they could to therapy and get help, but somehow they are taken advantage of at a vulnerable time by Elam.

“Elam in person is a tall, polite, drawling figure — he’s from Houston — who describes his site as a “place for men to express the pain and anger which they are denied from doing” in the world at large.”

That also sort of exemplifies what a lot of the comments here about Elam’s persona to the public. He has that avuncular look (Elam actually looks like an Uncle, lol, of mine with the distinguished beard and grey hair. He sort of even fooled this reported Ms. Hesse as appearing “tall and polite”. But obviously we know here at we hunted the mammoth, he is anything but polite. In fact he is the antithesis of polite but he fooled this reporter in his cunning way.

“At the end of the weekend, one presenter — Warren Farrell, who used to be a visible figure in the National Organization for Women before turning his focus to men’s rights several decades ago — emotionally declared: “I’ve always said the men’s movement is in its embryonic stage. I’m no longer going to say that.”

This is why I kind of do not agree with some commenters here saying we should not worry about Elam and a voice for men because it may just a few hundred dudes on the internet.
I think we should worry about Elam. So far in the manosphere, he has been the only mra to have lasted and with his conference he is now getting the publicity in the mainstream media and that is dangerous with all his hate.

Avfm may only have a few hundred guys but it is a small group of men with deep pockets that give money to Elam and he is in it for the money. Once a group has a lot of money they can get more power and notoriety and pay people off to affiliate with him. That is dangerous with a hate group like avfm.

Elam has a big ego and runs his organization like he is an entrepreneur and it is his baby. In the beginning of avfm it was known as “Paul Elam’s a voice for men.”
Elam is dangerous and he is not going to dissolve anytime soon in fact he is on a mission to have more conferences and recruit more people. especially women. A commenter here said it is no big deal because he only has around 500 “honeybadgers”. I say 500 is way too much, it should be zero. I contend while most of the manosphere blogs are just silly and eventually dissolve, Elam is not going anywhere and with his money he is a dangerous threat.

We needs more blog like whtm because David has been for a while now exposing the truth about Paul Elam and has numerous threads about his shenanigans and bullying in the archives here. The good thing is there are now a lot of twitter pages being created to combat Elam and his cohorts. With his money and power, the most likely scenario is Elam self destructing and going down if he goes down avfm will fall by the wayside. Let us hope that happens but in the meantime more smear campaign like this blog are needed to tell the real truth about a voice for men.

https://twitter.com/REALFACEOFMRAS

Ally S
6 years ago

“You look like my daughter”

(Takes close-up pictures of boobs)

Welp, I guess I didn’t really need to sleep tonight anyway.

And then afterwards saying “these photos will be great for later tonight…”

I really, really don’t want to think about what he was implying in that. Fucking disgusting dude.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

@ Ally

Yeah, I have to congratulate her for her self control. I’d probably have vomited in his lap.

Isabelle
Isabelle
6 years ago

“she debated hotly with two male journalists beside me and, when Warren Farrell’s studies on masculinity were brought up, went so far as to explain peer review process as unnecessary for certain papers..” from Darkhorseswore account

Definitely what the journal editors of Social Text thought before the Sokal hoax. Nonsense and bogus stats don’t like scrutiny much. Neither do the MRAs when I think about it …strange.

Oh, this is just a cute quote from Sokal:

“But I am a leftist (and a feminist) because of evidence of logic, not in spite of it.”

Ally S
6 years ago

This whole incident reminds me of the social phenomenon that many trans women experience. When misogynist men feel that they are only in the company of other misogynist men, they show their true colors. I know men who call themselves “feminists” and “pro-equality” in front of women and then behind women’s backs joke about women being raped while intoxicated.

In this situation, the woman was cis, and rather than being erased was treated as simply a non-threatening woman around whom they (which in this case included equally misogynistic women) could comfortably express their misogyny. And the misogyny was in the form of sexual harassment and total silence in response to said harassment.

There is no fucking way I could be convinced that they aren’t anti-woman.

starkidnina
6 years ago

Hi – I’ve been reading this blog for awhile, and I just made an account so I can comment. I just wanted to say, thank you for providing a comprehensive source of information on these manosphere misogynists. My brother has recently started self-identifying as an MRA, and I’m really frustrated by it. This helps provide an antidote, I guess.

Anyway, hello, and you will probably be seeing more of me soon!

schismtracer
schismtracer
6 years ago

A wooden necklace thingy, symbolizing who the hell knows what!

Looks like a male and female symbol in a cartoon fight. It’s an accurate depiction of internet gender wars, if nothing else.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

I thought it was supposed to be a state? With the symbols sticking out of it to symbolize, I dunno, the honey badgers getting drunk at the bar with the creepy old guy?

Howard Bannister
6 years ago

Some kind of mutated maple leaf?

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Canada and GO USA joining together to hate women?

emilygoddess - MOD
emilygoddess - MOD
6 years ago

I think it symbolizes someone who hasn’t had much practice with his shiny new jigsaw.

Isabelle
Isabelle
6 years ago

The only thing I can think of is a bug splashed on my windshield. Maybe it was an hermaphrodite fruitfly?

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
6 years ago

Yeah, it looks like a deformed maple leaf to me, too. Happy Canada Day!

WatermelonSugar
WatermelonSugar
6 years ago

So let me summarize the MRA argument on facts:

1. Feminists/women/the Evil Empire of Darth Vader Cupcakes make up all their facts and statistics and have no valid argument.

2. Men’s Rights Activists make up all their facts and statistics and that is completely legitimate because…it just is.

Oh yeahhhh, duh. It all makes sense to me now. Thanks, MRAs!

cloudiah
6 years ago

One very quick Google search leads me to some non-dudely facts:

At the beginning of the war in Afghanistan (2001) the overall military divorce rate was at 2.6 percent and at the end of 2011 that figure rose to 3.7 percent. In terms of raw numbers it was something like 30,000 marriages that ended during the 2011 fiscal year. This puts the military at a higher divorce rate than US civilians, which was last recorded at 3.5 percent in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, a Welcome Package for starkidnina is in order! Hope your brother comes out okay. There are some former MRAs here, so it can happen!

thewatchingdog
thewatchingdog
6 years ago

@starkidnina omg..that’s so horrible about your brother..is there anything you can do to help him you think?

starkidnina
6 years ago

thewatchingdog: I’m trying to gently help him along. He’s young and surrounded by the idiocy of youth. On the plus side, he clearly telegraphs the way he is by wearing a fedora and growing a neckbeard. (No joke. He really does.)

It seems to have gotten much worse when he was at a Christian college – now that he’s home, I’m hoping the head-arse extraction process will begin.

fromafar2013
6 years ago

…70 percent of men returning from war get divorced, and 90 percent do so within five years. When asked about the source of this statistic, he said, “That particular statistic is from my personal observations. I’m just speaking here as a dude.”

http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250×250/49877048.jpg

jared
jared
6 years ago

@starkidina

welcome here sorry to hear about your brother. It seems from reading the article on this thread by Ms. Hesse, these men think they have been somehow damaged goods by the system and they scapegoat women and may have fear of women for whatever reason.
A lot of these guys Elam recruits come from bitter divorces, or are angry about the economy, and it seems many have had poor experiences with women and have been hurt from childhood perhaps maybe mother issues.

The shame is these mra’s will blame all women based on a poor experience from a few .I am not sure that relates to your brother but I think a good psychotherapist would help these dudes instead of becoming mra’s like many angry young men are so it seems.

There are some good mens organizations that David has linked on the home page and a lot of good resources here at whtm about these mra’s.
DarkHorseSwore has set up a website revealing these guys and that is becoming a good resource as well. Good luck.

pendraegon
pendraegon
6 years ago

@Starkidnia I would suggest extensive kitten viewing clockwork orange style to begin the extraction process.

I miss being able to wear my fedora in public.

brooked
brooked
6 years ago

We needs more blog like whtm because David has been for a while now exposing the truth about Paul Elam and has numerous threads about his shenanigans and bullying in the archives here. The good thing is there are now a lot of twitter pages being created to combat Elam and his cohorts. With his money and power, the most likely scenario is Elam self destructing and going down if he goes down avfm will fall by the wayside. Let us hope that happens but in the meantime more smear campaign like this blog are needed to tell the real truth about a voice for men.

Smear campaign? I have to admit that I’m having a hard time taking Jared seriously, after the endless avalanche of breathless descriptions of business executive/cult leader/smooth operator Paul Elam.

Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
6 years ago

Hi schismtracer!

I thought it was a deformed maple leaf, too, but a bug splat made me laugh.

Barbara Kay wrote a shitty column about CAFE getting booted from the Toronto Pride parade and of course she blamed feminists for tipping off Pride. She tooted her own horn about speaking at the Detroit conference and told a big, fat lie:

The Doubletree Hilton hotel, the conference’s venue, received threats from feminist activists.

jared
jared
6 years ago

@starkidnina

Oh I want to mention Michael Kimmel’s book “Angry white men” is a good read I can recommend for you which can help understand these guy. In it Kimmel writes about men who feel alienated and hurt joining groups such as a voice for men or other mens rights groups to obtain a sense of belonging and feel community.. These men have lost any meaning in their lives, and joining and becoming an mra’s gives them a sense of false hope and meaning in their lives. Elam preys on these type of guys.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Darkhorseswore — if you see this, you should prolly do yourself a favor and remove the meta widget from your footer sidebar, particularly where these assholes are involved, that’s a security hole waiting to happen.

As for creepy dude, you have more restraint than me, but I guess yelling at him questioning if he’d photograph his daughter like that wouldn’t have gone over well in that context.

——

The only part of that dudebro “stat” that might bear resemblance to reality is if the 90% bit meant that of those marriages that end, a great deal do so in the first five years. That would mesh with common sense. Of course, 90% of the 3.7% cloudiah quoted would be about 3.34%. Versus the claimed 90% of 75% = 67.5%. Assfax aside, I find it hard to believe that just over two thirds of veterans are divorced within 5 years.

Oh! I know! He knows four veterans, three divorced, two of whom did so in the first five years! A little rounding and BAM! 75% divorce, 90% of whom do so in the first five years!

…did I just reverse engineer assfax?

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Yeah…no. This is no more a smear campaign than opening windows smears the grunge on the floor. That is, shining light on bad things doesn’t smear it.

starkidnina
6 years ago

@jared
Thank you! It’s kind of strange, because he’s never dated or really been burned by a woman (that I know of). I have recommended therapy before, but with no success. I might link him to a few key posts here.

Ken L.
6 years ago

While I think Dark Horse as got a hell of a lot of guts to do what she did, she missed a major chance to test something.She should have asked if this old man would mind deleting those pictures seeing how they don’t really know each other or some equal innocent reason. it could have been even more instructive then it already was. as a side note i still don’t get honey badgers. I’ll be honest and say that I really only started to look into MRA as a real threat after seeing Karen G.W.W. aka the babbler.it was like what the hell if they can rope in a woman too these guy are much more then i thought.

katz
6 years ago

I thought maybe that symbol was the concept of gender being exploded, which would be a nice idea if it wasn’t diametrically opposed to everything they actually do.

WatermelonSugar
WatermelonSugar
6 years ago

@starkidnina–

One, hi! Welcome! I am still new here, too, but this is a great community and you’ll love it here.

Two, my little brother also had a brush-in with Manosphere thinking when he was around the same age. While he didn’t self-identify as an MRA, he was buying “red pill” ideas pretty hard and was a budding PUA. I also managed a video game store and had a young man who was much in the same camp. This is what was helpful in my experience:

Be there.

Show up. Listen. Go out places together. Talk together. I personally strayed away from sending a lot of literature to my brother and to my employee, because I felt like it might be overwhelming. Instead, I talked with them and heard them out. If either said something that was off, I would gently point it out and then start a discussion about that topic. I would share my personal experience, but also validate theirs–but still questioned and pointed out toxic ideas. It’s a slow progress, but it helped a lot.

Thankfully, my brother ended up growing out of that phase–he got into therapy for the depression he was experiencing, and dealing with his depression helped to heal some of the anger and isolation he was feeling. With my employee, he started to question some of his own ideas surrounding women and about masculinity and started to see that in a lot of cases, his thinking had been off.

On my end of things, I also just try to live my feminism and provide an example of what it looks like on action. I think it helps to put a face on the idea, separating it from the idea of the Evil Empire or whatever the Manosphere is calling it now.

I hope that is helpful. Best of luck!

Pear_tree
Pear_tree
6 years ago

I think I understand the honey badgers. They see men as tigers. You wouldn’t blame a tiger that mauled a person who climed into its cage in a zoo. Zoo keepers always respect the tiger and are cautious around it , watching its behaviour and mood when deciding on their actions. They won’t show the tiger their anger or emotions as they know this would lead to trouble. Similarly the honey badgers feel men who aren’t treated with due care will hurt women physically or emotionally because they can’t not. When men don’t hurt women the honey badgers seem to see it as a major achievement.

I can sort of understand the attitude after my last relationship and also in other relationships I see.

I also get the impression from male friends that being single is a bigger deal to them than me. Almost like male self worth comes entirely from relationships and not from achievement or joy for its own sake. I find it very odd.

katz
6 years ago

One, hi! Welcome! I am still new here, too, but this is a great community and you’ll love it here.

What are you talking about everyone knows we hate new people and do everything we can to drive them away

WatermelonSugar
WatermelonSugar
6 years ago

Katz–
How silly of me to have forgotten. I’ll have to meditate on this mistake at my Shrine of the Cock Carosel and light an extra scented fucking candle in penitence.

jared
jared
6 years ago

@brooked

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I am a gay jewish NY liberal I so really mra’s hate me as well I guess. I hhave always been an activist and a humanitarian . I was raised as a reform jew which is non religious but I remember as a kid in Hebrew school my rabbi mentioning religion is not about preaching but trying to help humanity,. I’m an agnostic though.

In college I did a lot of outreach and was in the student union. I like helping people Brooked.
I just feel not angry Brooked but sad when I read about mra’s and their bigotry. Maybe your right I am making more of the mrm and Elam than it is. I just feel sad people can be mean to each other.and I want to help. See when horrors happen such as the holocaust not to compare this to that but no one said anything back in Germany when they heard of a hateful leader. I feel why remain silent and I found this community,

Brooked again I just want to help I’ll smash the cult references but I just want help people. I do volunteer work on my off days for my local community service clinic for mental health not to announce it is better to walk the talk than talk the walk. I just get sad when I read this stuff and this has a cathartic effect. Thanks for all you being here I get depressed and so many of you have been open about stuff. Thank you.

starkidnina
6 years ago

@WatermelonSugar – Thank you! That is a really good reminder. I have sort of started avoiding my brother, just because he has been so unpleasant to be around since picking up these awful, toxic ideas. But I do need to make sure to hang out with him and call him. I really do think this will be a short-term phase.

@Katz – Yes, I have noticed you are all hateful feminist lesbians with hairy armpits. Which is exactly why I feel so at home!

magnesium
magnesium
6 years ago

That wooden necklace thing is going to annoy me for the rest of the day. What is it?! It’s got the male and female symbols in there, and yes, I think a maple leaf. So perhaps whatever the heck else is in there must be a symbol of the US? But I don’t see a star… An eagle maybe? I don’t see it, but it could be there. You know what, until further information, I’m going to go with a maple leaf mashed with an eagle mashed with symbols for male and female.

jared
jared
6 years ago

@brooked

Plus Brooked plus I hated myself for years for being gay as a teen and had the crappiest self esteem and have had many bouts of depression, so I feel I was know what it is like to be vulnerable and just feel powerless that these dudes are being led astray and it is not right to have a freakin hate group trying to fool the mainstream like this.

But I am feeling a bit sad now after all this and I understand your comment about the cult reference to Elam. Again I apologize it was not meant to offend it’s just trying to warn people because everyone matters in life and no one without hope because I know I’ve been there myself.

brooked
brooked
6 years ago

@Jared

Ok, but google “smear campaign” because it’s not a compliment to call this blog that.

Fnoicby
Fnoicby
6 years ago

@jared, I’ve enjoyed your posts here. I see what brooked was saying in a way however as I was a bit taken aback by the term “smear campaign” to refer to David’s blog.

Isabelle
Isabelle
6 years ago

@jared

It seems you are doing a lot to help people around you. Maybe the depression is a bit of compassion fatigue. I know that at times, it became necessary for me to slow down or take a step back from volunteering. Maybe it would be worthwhile for you to look into an activity to do just for the pure fun of it. There is a great book, The Lifelong Activist, by Hillary Rettig that you may want to check. She has also a great website. So far I’ve found it the best to learn to attend to your own need while helping others. I’ve found that quote by Edward Abbey very useful, and maybe you will to:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Ken L.
6 years ago

@Pear_tree

I think that’s far to nice a way to view honey badgers. I think their hoping when there movement wins they will somehow be elevated above other woman. to para-steal from Malcolm X they are “Aunt Tammys.” has a short hand for what honey badgers really are.

as far as the symbol goes my guess i that it represent the meeting of the Canadian and american MRM. also being it was originally in Detroit proper it might be a allusion that Windsor is close enough to drive a golf ball to. Like this is the place where the countries meet and so do there MRAS.

Kootiepatra
Kootiepatra
6 years ago

@starkidnina – My brother went through an aggrieved “Women are so shallow and just wont looooove meeeee” (when he had yet to ask anyone out) phase, too. He didn’t go for the fedora, but was more along the backwards cap / skulls on the shirt / tough guy look. It took some time, but I think the fact that we get along really well, and I am, in fact, a woman, helped him realize that maybe he was projecting and generalizing just a teensie bit.

He thinks MRA’s are idiots, but still has the occasional headdesky-moment of parroting their lingo without realizing what it is.

In other words, it was indeed a phase with my brother, and I have high hopes that it can be such with yours as well. 🙂

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