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7 Tactics of Highly Effective Harassers: How A Voice for Men's Internet Hate Machine works

A Voice for Men mocks the fears of one of its targets of harassment
A Voice for Men mocks the fears of one of its targets of harassment

The self-described “Men’s Human Rights” site A Voice for Men is a hate site trying — admittedly not very hard, or convincingly — to pose as a human rights organization. In reality, as I and various other writers have documented in considerable detail, it’s an organizer and amplifier of hatred, directed at feminists and women more generally.

Much of this hatred is directed at specific targets, mostly though not always feminist women who have offended A Voice for Men’s founder Paul Elam. The aim is generally to terrorize feminists into silence.

I’ve written at length about AVFM’s campaigns of vilification and intimidation in the past; for a recent example as well as numerous links to discussions of past examples, see here.

Today I will  look at some of the specific tactics that AVFM uses against its targets – providing, in each case, a recent example.

This, in other words, is how AVFM’s Hate Machine functions. [TRIGGER WARNING for abusive language, discussion of abusive tactics]

TACTIC: Professional Ruin

Example:

Stacy, if I find out that there was a link between your report and [another AVFM foe’s] own vendetta that endangered Sage, I swear that you will never work in peace again. I will follow your activities and call out every lie that threatens the livelihood of decent men, until people stop citing your publications and you tearfully watch your degree gather dust in the closet. I have the resources and the connections to make that happen, and I will use them if you so much as tell one more goddamn lie about a man you don’t know. Covering your ass will only make me work harder to expose your sins. …

We’re still looking into your history, Stacy. …
Just know that I always will learn more. If you think there is something, and I mean anything else in your conduct on Kennesaw State University that will embarrass you, then you better send Sage Gerard an email and try to make things right, because I will publish all of your mistakes. …

Admit you were wrong like an adult, or pack up your desk.

Source: Post by Paul Elam of A Voice for Men.

Explanation: Elam threatens to ruin the career of a woman who reported to campus police that she felt intimidated by KSU Men founder and AVFM ally Sage Gerard. He provides no evidence of any connection between her and the other AVFM target mentioned.

In the last two paragraphs I quoted, this threat becomes a form of blackmail, with Elam threatening to dig up more “dirt” if the woman in question doesn’t apologize to the man who originally caused her to become so concerned about her personal safety that she called campus police. See below for more on blackmail.

TACTIC: Offering cash bounties for personal information

Example:

Stacy Keltner is a fraud on the run. There is a $100 reward to whoever finds a picture of her that we can verify. KSU students, if you happen to see Keltner out in public, grab a quick shot on your phone and send it over. You would be helping end corruption on your campus, and offsetting the cost of your tuition and supplies.

Source: The same post by Elam.

Explanation: Elam has offered cash bounties on a number of occasions in order to encourage those who have personal information on his targets, or those who might be willing to search for it, to send it to him. In the past, the bounties have ranged as high as $1000.

In this case, he is searching for a photograph of a woman who has evidently gone to great lengths to avoid having her picture posted on the internet.

TACTIC: Inciting an online mob

Example:

If you need more convincing, I invite readers to contact you via your public contact info. We will notice if you delete that, too.

Hundreds of people here have donated to Zen Men, the organization your people have been messing with, and I figure they may want an opportunity to explain how they feel about your disrespecting their contributions to gender equity. Oh, and just a tip: The supporters will not threaten you. They will most certainly be angry with you, but you are not in any physical danger. You never fucking were. Just keep that in mind if some odd troll sends you a message you want to believe we endorse. Use your brain and try listening to thoughtful dissent for once in your miserable life.

Source: The same post by Elam.

Explanation: After vilifying his target at length – calling her “filth,” and “one of the most egregious, repulsive and vindictive professors on Kennesaw State University, if not Georgia or the United States” – Elam calls upon his readers to contact her en masse, knowing full well (as he admits) that some of these messages may well be threatening. He also mocks and attacks her attempts to protect herself by removing personal information from the Internet.

TACTIC: DARVO (“Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”)

Example:

Stacy, you used fear to recruit thugs to attack a single student you personally do not like by proxy. …
You need to understand that there are people out there who will literally beat a man bloody if they believe that he is some kind of threat to women. Look at the murders carried out where victims are men falsely accused of rape. Perpetrators of this violence won’t investigate. They won’t even think. They will simply beat him until he is broken, and bleeding. You put Sage, an innocent and intelligent young man with a future, in a position where he has to keep looking over his shoulder every time he walks on campus.

Source: The same post by Elam.
Explanation: The woman in question did not “recruit thugs to attack a … student.” She called the campus police because she felt threatened by that student. AVFM is attempting to portray the frightened woman as the aggressor. The student in question was not charged with anything, nor was he attacked by the campus police officer who responded.
AVFM frequently uses what some psychologists call DARVO in an attempt to portray victims as aggressors. When women who claim they’ve been attacked or threatened call the police, AVFM often recasts their call for police protection as an attempt to inflict “violence by proxy” on innocent men. AVFM also uses DARVO to cast itself as a victim.
IRONY: Tara J. Palmatier, a therapist with close ties to AVFM, has argued on numerous occasions that women who claim they have been abused by men may be using DARVO tactics to smear them. In one post on AVFM, Palmatier suggests that so-called “high conflict individuals” are likely to resort to “smear campaign and mobbing tactics when they target someone … .” Ironically, this is a perfect description of AVFM’s own preferred style of “activism.”

TACTIC: Blackmail

Example:

If you choose to stand by your dishonest image, I will dig through all of your connections, your history and your publications, then email your colleagues and superiors all of the reasons they should consider working with other people. I’m sure the network of anti-feminist YouTubers and bloggers looking for content would also have a field day if I pointed them to ISD’s publications. …

Tom, if you and your buddies own up to your crap like grown-ups and make amends with Sage, then I will back off. …

Staying silent is not going to save you.

Source: Another blog post by A Voice for Men’s founder Paul Elam.
Explanation: Blackmail is defined by the Macmillan Dictionary as “to make someone give you money or do what you want by threatening to tell people embarrassing information about them.”

In this case, Elam is threatening to dig up dirt on KSU professor Tom Pynn and pass it along to his colleagues as well as to a group of videobloggers known for their harassment of feminists, unless Pynn recants a previous statement claiming that AVFM is a hate group. No, really: It’s a hate campaign targeting a man because he called AVFM a hate group.

Elam is angry that Pynn wrote an email to KSU Men’s former faculty advisor in which he stated that the Southern Poverty Law Center had declared AVFM a “hate group.” While this is not technically true – for one thing, websites do not meet the SPLC’s definition of a “group” – it is also true that the SPLC included AVFM in a report on misogynistic websites, describing in some detail AVFM’s doxxing and harassment of women, which at the time included setting up the phony offenders registry called Register-Her to smear feminists, and offering bounties for personal information on the site’s foes.

TACTIC: Revelation of deeply personal information

Example:

A simple text search reveals something very interesting. [Target of harassment] was at [identifying info redacted] the same time as [name redacted], a woman who was brutally murdered in a random attack by a deranged psychopath who received the death sentence for her murder. [Target of harassment] and [murdered woman] were friends. Further investigation reveals that [murdered woman] had fought with a friend before she was murdered, and the relationship was never repaired. The friend was left to grieve and to live with the knowledge that her last words to her friend were unkind. [Target of harassment] is quoted in the newspaper article, but she is not the friend who testified at the trial. The entire faculty is described as being traumatized and in shock at the murder.

Is [Target of harassment] the friend who was mean to [the murdered woman] before she died?

Source: A blog post by AVFM’s”social media director,” who posts online as “Judgy Bitch” and “Janet Bloomfield.”

Explanation: There is no possible justification for posting this. It has no relevance to AVFM’s “charges” against the woman. It’s clearly intended to use the facts of a murder case to hurt someone whose friend was brutally murdered.

Irony: “Bloomfield,” a staunch supporter of and practicioner of doxxing, posts under a pseudonym.

Note: Due to “Bloomfield’s” posting of personal information, I will not post a link to her post or the name of the targeted woman. I will provide the link to journalists and others with a legitimate need to see the original.

TACTIC: Social media harassment

Example:

jackbarnesharassmentwillcontinue

Source: The Twitter account of Jack Barnes, a contributor to AVFM and co-host of that site’s Blue Collar Red Pill Radio show. Link to tweet.

Explanation: Barnes threatens endless “harassment” of feminists unless and until they are completely silenced. Barnes directed his tweet at cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian, the target of a massive, several-years-long campaign of harassment online.

In an earlier Tweet, also directed at Sarkeesian, Barnes joked about the death threats that at one point led her to flee her home.

barnes2This bit of nastiness was retweeted by four other AVFMers. This is typical: Twitter harassment from individual AVFMers – there is no need for the ironic quotes around “harassment” – is almost always amplified by a squad of other AVFMers eager to flood their target’s Twitter mentions with a flood of insults and abuse.

AVFM’s Twitter army was once led by the AVFM “social media director” who posts online as “Judgy Bitch” and “Janet Bloomfield.” But she has been banned from Twitter, evidently for her “targeted abuse” of feminist writer Jessica Valenti, which included the deliberate dissemination of falsehoods about Valenti.

As Barnes and other AVFMers have made clear, this sort of harassment and abuse is likely to “continue and accelerate.” AVFM’s hate machine will not stop, Barnes contends, “until no one will openly admit to being feminist.”

That’s not going to happen. So it’s up to us to document and denounce and do what we can through all legal channels to shut their hate machine down.

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swedishbitch
5 years ago

Ok. You are right. That does sound bad; though it would be very difficult to make such points without saying things that would come across as questionable at best (and there is a straight male version of these issues that we almost never hear, at least not from non-extremists, which is a pity).

But I still maintain that what I DID see, such as his discussion of the boy crisis, intimacy, gender roles, and the wage gap, are not only insightful and compassionate to both genders, but perfectly reasonable from and amenable to a feminist perspective. Can we appreciate Heidegger as a great philosopher although he sympathised with the Nazis? That is up to each person of course. At the very least, let us not let our distaste for a person stain perfectly legitimate concerns of both genders.

Still I maintain that Elam is in a separate class (topped only by selected trolls spewing rape threats).

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
5 years ago

Oh good, that inking wasn’t just because he’s new from my view. I had no idea if actually new, or here for 3 months while I was cleaning up the life exploded mess. But yeah, that bell was ringing for me too. Somewhere between “he said generally” and “gay man”…with bitch in his nym (I was giving that the benefit of the doubt that hey, a woman might be reclaiming it!)

Idk, it’s possible he’s just naive and wants the MRM to be legit movement, because there are actual issues men face (toxic masculinity f’ex), but no matter how much you squint, the MRM ain’t that movement. So yeah, if that’s his deal, my advice? Stop trying to find theirs good side, they don’t have one, and start hanging out with the feminists who share your concerns.

Falconer
5 years ago

I hope the life-explodey bit wasn’t too bad, Argenti.

katz
5 years ago

@ Katz

“siblicide”

I like to learn one new word each day. Thank you!

You said you were an only child, so unfortunately you probably won’t be able to create a situation where you can use it in a sentence.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Yeah, I’m not too fond of a male commenter having the word “bitch” in his nym.

isidore13
isidore13
5 years ago

Is Zie male?

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

MRAs are no friends of gay or trans men. And one doesn’t have to scratch the surface very hard to find their homo/transphobic vein, either. At best, they seem to regard them as just one small step above women…who are all evil and wicked any way you slice ’em.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

@Argenti:

Yeep! Life explody messes are not good. Hope the cleanup went, or is going, well. I saw the turtle pics, and the adorableness of your axolotl, and the comment on Puff the goof and his goofiness, so at least they’re all well and adorable!

@WWTH:

I don’t think Zie’s told us what gender zie is, but I cannot admit to being much enamored with the nym. I’ve always had really mixed feelings about ‘reclaiming’ words, and am a bit skeptical about whether that’s a word that merits reclaiming.

…unless you happen to be a dog breeder.

I won’t argue too fiercely about it, though.

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
5 years ago

What do the others think?

I think you’re sealioning.

maistrechat
5 years ago
Reply to  contrapangloss

They explicitly stated it above

Even I, a ridiculously harmless looking gay male, was accused of pedophilia once in San Diego when I tried to help a five-year-old girl that had gotten lost.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

Ah, my mistake. Bad me for skimming.

Swedishb—-, would you please consider switching nyms?

SwedishFish would be a new one.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

MRAs claim to be anti-feminist and not anti-woman, but it’s not true. They express glee in harming women, they claim men are inherently better at science and math so there shouldn’t be a push to get more women in STEM fields, they engage in rape apologia, etc. I would argue that you can’t be anti-feminist without being a misogynist.

Also, most feminists are not the ones pedastalizing women and excusing violence on their part. The notion that women are delicate flowers who couldn’t possibly do anything violent is patriarchal, not feminist.

Exactly. Antifeminist IS anti-woman, although you’ll never hear one of them admit it. Feminism arose because women were and still are getting a raw deal. The idea of an antifeminist movement arising at a time when things are already backsliding into ever more gross inequality is so perverse it gives me hives.

Also, for anyone tempted to think that they’re going to care much about gay men’s rights: No, they don’t. They’re just saying that in an effort to pick off some confused ones and funnel their money into their own pockets. And anyway, gay guys don’t need them for advocates; they’ve had the gay-rights movement for decades. MRAs are late to that party, and I don’t get the sense that any of my gay friends (who are all natural allies of feminism) appreciate them crashing it.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

Also, yeah, Warren Farrell may speak nicely on occasion, but seeming well cultured or having the appearance of an agreeable manner doesn’t necessary imply that someone is reasonable, kind, or an exemplary example of what humanity should strive for.

For instance, there’s a kind of awful joke that floats around every so often:

“Yeah, Hitler was evil… but he was a great ballroom dancer!”

The point of the joke is that it points out how trying to negate bad behavior with a “but, culture! Elegance! Someone like that couldn’t possibly be that bad” is such a bad idea.

Note: I don’t think Warren Farrell is in any way as bad as Hitler. Really. He’s not Hitler. Still, we don’t get to excuse awful rhetoric with the excuse of “but he said it so politely!”

Tony
5 years ago

swedishbitch:

Are men not, despite a good number of sad exceptions, programmed to protect women rather than men?

If by programmed, you mean society inculcates in men this belief that they should be the protectors of women, then yes. Gender essentialist bullshit is taught everywhere. Women are the fairer sex. Women are weaker than men. Women need men to help them. Women are wallflowers. Women are dainty. Women are scared of rats, mice, and roaches. Women are prone to emotion. That’s why they need the rational menz around to help them out. Except all of that is rooted in ideas of what is the “proper” way to be a man and the “proper” way to be a woman. There is NO proper way to be men or women. That’s one of the things feminists seek an end to: archaic, damaging patriarchal gender roles that hurt women *and* men.

If by programmed, you mean men are biologically programmed to be the protectors of women, then I’ve never seen any evidence that points to that.

Listen to Warren Farrell, Janice Fiamengo, and Christina Hoff Summers for more reasonable voices of what are basically dissenting feminists rather than the ideological opposite.

I don’t know Fiamengo, but Summers and Farrell are vile people who are not allies of feminists.

Tony
5 years ago

swedishbitch:
Seconding (or thirding, fourthing) the request that you change your nym.
Oh, and as a gay man, I want nothing to do with the MRM. None of it. Feminism though? That, I fully support.

isidore13
isidore13
5 years ago

Fourthing the name change request, if he even posts again heh

katz
5 years ago

“b*tch” is on David’s no-no list, so I’d think that nym counts as a violation of the comment policy. (Those terms are generally only allowed when quoting.)

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ Swedish

OK, read the material you provided the links to.

Firstly let me address the material itself.

It’s pseudoscientific ideologically driven nonsense.

A study that purports to demonstrate that not only is FoM violence worse and more common than MoF violence but that women actually *benefit* from being the victims of violence is of course somewhat suspect.

I was curious about the author.

Turns out he’s an MRA activist whose main areas of ‘research’ include such topics as why domestic violence (against women) is a myth, how men are in fact the true (and indeed only) victims of DV (at the hands of women of course) and the rather contradictory position (bearing in mind his contention that MoF DV does not exist) that women in fact actively seek to be be assaulted by men because this brings them psychological, social and material rewards.

Sorry Swedish, but I’m calling MRA troll and sealioning.*

(*must confess, had to look that term up)

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Janice Fiamengo, “moderate and reasonable”? Um, NO. Here’s what she did at my alma mater:

The talk, called “What’s Equality Got to Do With It? Men’s Issues and Feminism’s Double Standards,” featured speaker Fiamengo, currently an English professor at the University of Ottawa.

Fiamengo spoke for an hour, addressing what she believes to be men’s issues such as child custody rights, high suicide rate and sexual assault against men.

She said that patriarchy doesn’t exist, and that feminism creates a skewed vision of a past dominated by men.

“Maybe our vision of the past, a feminist-inflicted vision, needs to be re-thought,” she said in her talk. “Even if men had it really good in the past, whenever that was … why should any man suffer now? That’s not equality.” She said that universities censor speech on the premise of creating a “safe space”.

“Universities have been taken hostage by activists with totalitarian strategies, “she said. “Talk about safe spaces almost always becomes a tool to enforce compliance, and silence those who disagree.”

Fiamengo added that she had visited the Queen’s gender studies department website and found the wording in certain syllabi an attempt to “regulate” what students say.

She’s not even an expert in gender studies; she’s an English lit prof. Yet somehow she’s competent to judge university syllabi and find them to be some kind of quasi-communist indoctrination that needs masculist correction to rebalance them? Yuh-huh, that sounds about as moderate and reasonable as some wild-eyed chemtrail kook rambling on about fluoride in the water.

alaisvex
alaisvex
5 years ago

SwedishB**** thinks that Warren Farrell and Christina Hoff Sommers are reasonable, fair people, cites studies on “gender symmetry,” and sees problems with affirmative consent? I’m calling troll/sea lion.

talacaris
5 years ago

Swedish..

A renowned feminist from my country, Sweden, once remarked on pretty much the first and only prominent Swedish MRM that she admitted the issues he raised were valid, but that it simply felt and was wrong to raise them from the angle of men’s rights

Which people? I guess Pelle Billing is the MRM. Do you have a citation?

Myriad
Myriad
5 years ago

@Myriad – Oh, gah, sorry – yeah, that was a typo.

An OLD picture.

I’m often typing on my phone and kind of suck at it, especially first thing in the morning.

No worries. Typos are a fact of life when typing on a phone.

I completely agree with you. In my own experience, I was totally unprepared emotionally when I came of age and suddenly was approached by men in a sexual way at such a young age. My mind was still that of a child even though my body looked like an adult. It makes my blood boil for all the same reasons as you.

ManyLittleDrops
ManyLittleDrops
5 years ago

I really appreciate that you are willing to traverse the ugly world of misogyny online in order to reveal it & educate about it. In Buddhist teachings, there is the idea of bodhisattvas being willing to go into any kind of hell in order to end the suffering of the beings there ……. yeah, your work is kinda like that:)

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

Elam and Farrell are tight soooooo….. even if WTFarrell does a better job of concealing his misogyny or, perhaps, isn’t as misogynous, he still stands hand in hand with Elam and AVFM.

Ayatollah Khomeini remembered his grandfather’s birthday and sent him a card! Doesn’t make him any less of a giant fucking shitstain. It just teaches us dreadful people may have good attributes and be correct sometimes.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

We’re sorry about Fiamengo, BTW. And Nickelback. We’re really sorry.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

I will never trust a MRA’s word on using violence against women “in self-defense”, as in, the woman actually hitting first, and they retaliating.

Why? SImply because, as I have learned from reading several enlightening posts on the mindset of these people here at WHTM, and, of course, the quintessential Bible of Men’s Rights Activists, Warren Farrel’s disaster of a book, The Myth of Male Power, MRAs are hell-bent on twisting around every slight inconvenience in their life as actual, literal violence that has its roots in some conspiracy-esque form of systematic oppression.

Scenario 1: Woman and man go on a date, the man insists on paying for dinner in the hopes of getting repaid with sexual favors and the woman, not being a mind-reader, accepts the man’s offer in the vain hope that the man is just being genuinely generous and not a patronizing misogynist. Date ends, no sexytimes occur.

MRA interpretation of event: The man was literally raped because something something resources in sexual marketplace stolen by gold diggers waah my boner is sad waaah

Scenario 2: A woman laughs at a man, calls him creepy, or rejects him outright. The reason for this might vary, but probably has something to do with the man acting like a misogynostic creep with no interest in respecting the woman’s boundaries, or something along those lines. Either way, the man is making the woman uncomfortable, or, in a more light-hearted scenario, perhaps amused and bewildered in some way.

MRA interpretation of event: A woman laughing at/ creep-shaming/ rejecting a man is exactly like being killed! I know this for a fact because I was killed several times this week! Misandry!

Scenario 3: A woman raises her voice when dealing with an obnoxious, sexist or otherwise disgusting man who has stepped over more lines than an over-enthusiastic country-western dancer.

MRA interpretation of event: Innocent man being hounded by feminazi! Literal Crystal Night! Indoctrination camps! Mass extermination of men on the horizon!

No, when a MRA says they’d hit a woman “in self-defense”, I’d wager it means that they’ll hit a woman for anything that makes them personally feel as “being literally punched”. Considering theit flippant attitude in comparing almost any setback in their personal life to rape, murder and genocide, I doubt it would take much.

alaisvex
alaisvex
5 years ago

Anachronist, I see what you mean. They probably consider being yelled at a case of being “verbally punched.”

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
5 years ago

I’m sure they don’t grok the difference between verbal abuse and being told to throw their underwear into the hamper, not next to it. Which means there’s no way they get that repeated verbal threats =/= “I’m only washing clothes that are in the bin”.

alaisvex
alaisvex
5 years ago

Yeah, Argenti, there’s also that. Though I don’t think that they grok that you can’t respond to legitimate verbal abuse with physical abuse either.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
5 years ago

There’s also the almost hilariously awful irony in that if confronted by someone who happened to witness the MRA-minded person hitting a woman who got “uppity” by talking back at him, the abuser can try to twist the whole thing into some “preventing violence with violence” thing, that he could somehow see that the woman was about to get violent, and acted to prevent that. This coming from someone who probably thinks women are illogical creatures, that men can’t (and, by extension, shouldn’t be expected to) read body language, and that understanding consent is haaaaaard.

Abusers just can’t understand what a woman wants from non-verbal cues (subtle or not, makes no difference) when it suits their interest not to, but when put into a situation where they can use alleged subtleties in her body language to justify hurting a woman, they all turn into Cal Lightman.

alaisvex
alaisvex
5 years ago

Abusers just can’t understand what a woman wants from non-verbal cues (subtle or not, makes no difference) when it suits their interest not to, but when put into a situation where they can use alleged subtleties in her body language to justify hurting a woman, they all turn into Cal Lightman.

^This! It’s just like their rape apologia. Rapists just can’t understand what a woman wants based on her non-verbal cues, even when they’re blatantly obvious, when they don’t want to acknowledge a “no,” but when a woman actually says, “No,” suddenly they’re so good at reading her body language that they *know* that she actually means, “Yes.” Isn’t it just incredible how all roads lead to justifying rape?