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Men’s Rights Redditors unimpressed by A Voice for Men’s conference speakers, appalled by the cost

A Voice for Men's upcoming conference has it all!
A Voice for Men’s upcoming conference has it all!

So it turns out that I’m not the only one who is thoroughly underwhelmed by A Voice for Men’s lineup of conference speakers for their upcoming International Conference on Men’s Issues, By Which They Mean How Men Are Oppressed By Women’s Sexy Butts. 

Over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, some of the regulars are complaining that AVFM is delivering much less than it did last year, for a much higher price — with ticket prices running a steep $650, currently discounted to the high. high price of $399.

Yep, attendees of the conference will be paying as much as $650 just to get in to the event, not counting the cost of airfare, hotels, or even food at the conference itself.

They could easily end up paying more than $1000 for the privilege of watching Elam and a bunch of his AVFM cronies blather on about the same crap they blather on about in countless hour-long videos available for free on YouTube. The only “big name” in the mix is Warren Farrell, whose fame as a Men’s Rights advocate peaked maybe twenty years ago.

As fundude1 put it:

The lineup looks terrible with just Elam, Golden, Palmitier and Farrell.

Both Golden and Palmitier really bring nothing to the table. They are both psychologists (like Elam and Farrell) and are UNKNOWN.

Is it churlish of me to point out that neither Elam or Farrell are actually psychologists?

There is no diversity at ALL among the people in terms of academic backgrounds, general popularity, etc.

Last year’s conference had a much more broad array of characters that had FAR more popularity in general.

Fundude1’s outrage meter went further into the red after he discovered how much the whole thing was going to cost.

But he wasn’t the only one upset by the underwhelming lineup and overwhelming cost.

To take just one example: therock6658, a Men’s Rights subreddit regular with considerable sympathy for AVFM, wrote a long and mournful comment lamenting “the fact that AVFM is … half-assing this whole event.”

I hate to say this but I was looking forward to this announcement for months when Elam stated that he was going to put the tickets on sale for the second of April, but once they went on sale and I looked at the roster, it ultimately turned me off to the entire men’s rights movement.

Yep, that’s right: AVFM has bungled their conference so badly he’s reconsidering his support for the entire Men’s Rights movement. 

Considering the price, he added, “it just does not look good for the outcome of this particular conference.” Nope.

As for the lineup, he complained, it

does indeed bother me as much as it does everyone else. It’s mostly people from AVFM and not enough people from external sources. 10 speakers present as opposed to the 14 from last year plus everyone involved in the panel discussions. …

I really hope that this is more due to budgeting more than anything else because I would hate to learn that this is really due to greed or anything like that. Yes, I do feel that donations to AVFM have been going down as of late and perhaps that’s the big reason why this conference shrank from last year.

Given that AVFM’s last fundraiser brought in less than half of what Elam had been demanding, I’d say that was a safe bet.

Also, you may recall that at the start of the year, Elam announced that he “hope[d] to make some actual profit” from this year’s conference.

Apparently Elam never took economics in college, because then he might have realized that you can’t simply make more money by jacking your prices as high as you want; if your prices are too steep, no one will buy what you’re selling.

But hey, as Elam apparently explained to therock6658, having fewer speakers means “more time for attendees to socialize with the presenters, etc.”

WIN A DATE WITH PAUL ELAM

Actually, that’s not quite right: PAY THROUGH THE NOSE FOR THE CHANCE TO MAYBE TALK TO PAUL ELAM

I actually pretty much have a good mind to make my own anti-feminist conference myself and do twice as much in 1 day than AVFM is trying to do in 3.

You know, I do too.

I think it’s fair to say that there’s a good chance AVFM’s conference won’t happen at all.

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Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
5 years ago

Did Elam mention if complimentary caffeine products were going to be offered at the conference?

I think they should give the coffee concession to John Robert Lind. To pay for his legal defense fund.

M.
M.
5 years ago

Add the War On Drugs to the list. It’s destroyed and claimed so many lives, most of them young black men.

vanir85
5 years ago

-prison stuffing and prison rape (real rape, not, you know, “neglect rape” and “financial rape” and “withholding sex after you paid for dinner’ rape)
-domestic violence, and how male victims are shamed and have no access to facilities
-navigating family court, custody, and amicable coparenting after divorce
-narrow gender norms and male shaming when they violate them
-dangerous jobs, and shaming of men who advocate for safety measures

– Thalia

When I first heard about Men’s Rights Activists, I thought this was what they were about. Who-boy was I in for a rude awakening.

Robert
Robert
5 years ago

GOM, that was very on point.

Regarding retired fathers, mine took up oil painting. His apartment was decorated with colorful landscapes in ornate frames, along with the decorative plates on brackets. It’s almost as if he wasn’t concerned with being stereotypically masculine.

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

Oh, a conference could also cover PTSD and depression, and what the symptoms look like in men. Also health issues that primarily affect men, how to get taken seriously by a doctor even if your presentation is stoic, and health resources that are under-used by/under-offered to men. I bet men tend to miss out on the benefits of regimens like water-assisted exercise, pilates, and yoga because they are presented as women’s things. How to find a MANLY pilates class!

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

Lam | April 7, 2015 at 10:42 pm
Fems for teh menz XD

I thought it sounded catchy. :3

lith | April 8, 2015 at 3:15 am
If someone was to set up a ‘rival’ men’s rights site that was genuinely interested in helping men do you think people would sign up? Then if it partnered with related feminist groups fighting for the same/similar cause?

When I wrote the first question I was genuinely curious as to whether these misguided individuals could be brought into the fold (the group of people not being dicks) – then I wrote the second and realised I already had the answer. They really do hate women, don’t they?

I imagine if we did set up a men’s right’s site that a lot of ex-AVfMers would sign up, but they’d immediately turn heel and hiss and jeer the moment they found out we were based in feminist stuff.

Because, according to their world view, we hate them solely for being men, so anything we do under the idea of helping is obviously a trap and must be there to secretly brainwash them into believing that women are people and aren’t there to please their peens.

Conspiracies abound.

contrapangloss | April 8, 2015 at 6:11 am
If someone starts organizing, count me as a lurker? Eventual help?

Same here. I’d be willing to donate my graphic design skills to help out, but I’d only be able to lurk due to money/travel issues. : P

GrumpyOldMangina | April 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm
[to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”]

I’m a special snowflake, loud and strong,
All the other women get it wrong.
When I get all steamed up hear me shout,
“I support the boys whenever they pout!”

I had a good chortle at that. And it fits the tune nicely! Well done.

Thalia | April 8, 2015 at 1:40 pm
dating environment in a world of changing expectations (AKA how to find partners you actually like without acting like a dick);

I would totally be down for this happening. Teaching men feminist “game” (in a sense) would be so beneficial to them if they want to use it.

Except we wouldn’t be doing it solely to get them casual sex. There are women out there who do want casual sex, and there are places to look for them and covering that would be fantastic (because it’d most likely draw them in), but there should also be talks about things like:

-How to find a partner for, establish, and continue a long-term relationship
-How to Properly Date Online (No Dick Pics!)
-How to Understand No
-What To and What Not To Do when it comes to flirting
-How Game Lied To You (and How it’s Profiting From it)
-Why Nice Guys™ Finish Last

I figure that last one would be a little clickbait-y, but once they’re in there they might learn something good. >.>

We could also cover talks about relationships other than hetero, but these are just a few ideas for now.

M. | April 8, 2015 at 2:03 pm
Add the War On Drugs to the list. It’s destroyed and claimed so many lives, most of them young black men.

I’m seconding this. Race relations are a huge thing that need to be talked about. (More specifically, we white people need to listen to people of other races on what issues they face instead of trying to tell them that we can help.)

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

OH! Almost forgot.

Another beneficial group to arrange talks for would be trans people.

Transmen could have talks about how to transition from female to male, and the struggles they face with that, and the same for transwomen.

Of course, any advice given would have to be pretty basic, as no two people transition alike, nor do any two people have the same issues. :U

Catalpa
Catalpa
5 years ago

Back before I came across this website, and had only peripherally heard about Men’s Rights Activists, I thought that they were a good idea, and would be natural allies with feminism. People dedicated to tackling issues like toxic gender roles for men and the expectation of invulnerability that pushes so many men to the brink of self loathing and suicide? Getting more options for male birth control? Sounds great, I’m all for that!

Aaaand then I learned that what they were really about, and was sad and disgusted.

chronically lurking
chronically lurking
5 years ago

Totally off topic. But today I heard a really dumb TurboTax commercial on Pandora. It went roughly like this:

Did you go to college last year? Did you take a class in HTML and find it filled with nice, attractive young ladies? Did you end up in several “frustratingly platonic relationships with females” (DIRECT QUOTE!) and not learn a lick of HTML?

[TurboTax makes those questions simple, blah blah, I wasn’t paying attention]

What’s the punchline? What kind of weird context is that?

It’s extra weird, because Pandora normally tries to market me nail polish or a job at [local Waitress’s Boobs-Oriented pub] that will offer me the opportunity to make “so many new friends OMG!”.

Kestrel
Kestrel
5 years ago

I’m a bit late but I would love to help with the con. I can help with donations to cover startup costs.

Kirin
Kirin
5 years ago

I’m with you Catalpa, I had the exact same thoughts. The moment I heard of them I sought them out. I couldn’t find any. Disturbing mysoginy, yes, but actual men’s rights activism? nope. I saw a lot of hate for feminism, while their issues are two sides of the same coin.

And even now, now that I’ve spent quite some time on this site, I’m still careful with talking bad about the MRA, hoping that maybe I just missed the serious activists.. That maybe there’s too much of a focus on the bad ones and the good ones go unnoticed, as happens with so many groups. After all, I’ve seen some extreme feminists saying some pretty disturbing things too. I really do think there’s a need for more awareness for men’s issues, many of which have been mentioned in this very thread. I don’t have much hope left though…

contrapangloss
5 years ago

Okay, did a little bit of journal database-wizardry (typing, because work is temporarily slow and I have to be up anyway)

If you want to have the conference be disproportionately academically based, a good way to find potential speakers is to use the databases to look up people currently doing the research in the fields.

Research people love talking about their stuff, generally.

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about any of these people with respect towards their attitudes or behaviors (or public speaking ability) outside of the content of their papers. I’ve also only skimmed the papers, and could have missed some stuff.

For problems facing black and poor men with respect to over-representation in prison (kind of more of a racism issue, but also a men’s issue because it is more disproportionate for black men than black women, though both are high relative to incarceration of white men and women respectively…

Bryan Warde (Lehman College) has published quite a few papers on the intersections of race and imprisonment.

He also published a neat qualitative analysis of men in social work, which found that male social workers (okay, small sample size, so some problems) both enjoyed and were good at their jobs. So… he kind of challenges the whole “Women are innately more caregiver types” notion, which is a critical notion to dispel if men want to have better success at being considered equally with women when it comes to child custody decisions.

Karen Graham published an interesting article in CITY last year on whether the educational system itself is ‘preparing’ men for prison later on. There’s a few Karen Grahams in academia, though… one of them did a math paper on bear utilization of roads. I want them to be the same Graham, because it would be reassuring to a math bachelor like me who’s to interested in all the things to focus on just one.

Rosie Meek and Gwen Lewis did some work on prison team-sports based initiatives to help young men reenter society and reduce repeat offending. Decent sample size, but strictly young men between 18-21. Meek does a lot of work on prison programs (including parenting education for young incarcerated dads. Lewis is more focused on sporting interventions, specifically. To me, Meek’s work is a bit more interesting, but she coauthored with Lewis a few times.

David R. Karp did some work in 2010 on hypermasculinity and how deconstructing and helping inmates to redefine masculinity tends to lead towards prosocial outcomes.

Anna Curtis also published in 2014 in Men and Masculinities Vol 17, issue 2 on a similar vein with hypermasculinity being not so good and leading to less security for male prisoners.

For Prison Rape (and in general male rape not being taken seriously by most people, including MRAs who joke about it, when they’re not trying to bludgeon feminists with “but it happens to men too”):

Bennett Capers out of Brooklyn Law School’s published a few papers. He talks about both prison and out of prison rape.

Lara Stemple and Ilan H Meyer used CDC and FBI data collected from 2010 to 2012 to try and unravel the prevalence of sexual victimization among men. The data does include prison populations, which does make it a lot higher, but it also discusses out of prison rape. The recommendations of the authors are to try and move society past regressive gender assumptions, which honestly, seems to be a reoccurring theme for everything I’m pulling up.

Adrian Coxell and Michael King published a follow up in 2010 to their original summary paper on sexual assault of men (from 15 years back) that repeats some extra evidence and epidemiological evidence, and then goes “PEOPLES, CAN WE GET MORE RESEARCH? PLEASE? COME ON, FIFTEEN YEARS AND WHY ARE WE SO ALONE…

A lot of the previous studies kind of focus on male-male victimization because of prison rape, but women on male sexual victimization and rape seriously shouldn’t be ignored. Nicola Fisher and Afroditi Pina published an article in Aggression & Violent Behavior that focuses on exactly that.

Also, college guys are not immune. Sadly. Jessica Turchik published an article in 2012 on male victimization in college and looked at whether riskier health behaviors, sexual disfunction, and alcohol consumption.

For Domestic Violence and Abuse towards men and their difficulty being taken seriously:

Kevin Hogan, John Hegarty, Tony Ward, and Lorna Dodd published a piece in Conselling and Psychotherapy Research in 2012 exploring counselors experiences working with male victims of female-perpetrated domestic abuse, wherein they found ten overarching themes that were found across all transcripts, one of which is the distinct lack of recognition of male victimization.

Venus Tsui published in Social Work in 2014 on data from a national study of male victims and survivors of IPA where the study focused on factors that created positive or negative perceptions towards help seeking. For help for men to be useful, they have to be able to get it, which involves both people taking them seriously and them taking it seriously (not minimizing because of feeling less manly for it happening to them and being willing to talk about it).

For Child Custody Issues:

Bryan Warde published that one paper, see above on poor and black men’s over-representation in prisons.

For Young Men Navigating Dating:

Not Academic, but I’ll be darned if Dr Nerdlove doesn’t have a lot of good advice, on occasion. Same thing with Captain Awkward.

Ending Disclaimer: I have no idea how available these people would be, whether it’d be something they’d like to do, how good they are at public speaking, what they’d need, or any of that. Just throwing names out there.

Lost a little steam on the last couple categories, but I might return to browsing the research of the past 5 years in a bit to pull more names.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

Yeah, I’ll pull up more peeps to look into, if you all decide to get serious…

Chances are I would not be able to attend in person, because flying anywhere from AK is expensive and a hassle. Especially since the town I’m in has a runway that’s under construction, so planes are literally having to land in the taxiway, which means the weather has to be perfect and your plane has to be light or else landing is a nope.

But… it would add the price a bit, but if folks made an interactive web feature (live video of talks, with an instant message question feature for discussion sections), it would be sweet.

How serious are we about this thing?

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

I totally agree with all the topics you all mentioned!

Others that I would like to bring up:

Toxic Masculinity, how it damages individuals/societies, and what can be done

War: When Men Send Other, Poorer Men to Foreign Lands to Die (yes, I know that women are disproportionately affected by war, but what I really want to get across is that: Yes, men get sent to war, and that’s wrong, but mostly throughout history, it’s not women’s fault that you were there! – this could also go under toxic masculinity, too)

Many Ways to be a Man: talk about how our culture limits men’s opportunities and life quality by forcing them/their personalities into narrow, exclusive definitions.

I might think of some more. That interactive web feature is a pretty cool idea. True, it might raise costs in the short run, but in the long run it has the potential to bring a lot more people to the conference, which would actually raise more money. We could have people only viewing the live feed pay a small fee for participation, but then they could still participate from home (especially good if you can’t afford travel).

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

I’d also be a big fan of having Dr NerdLove and Captain Awkward at the conference, maybe not as speakers, but I think they’d be good on a panel or two.

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

Also, practical how-to workshops in fun skills could be a draw: improv comedy, shaving with a safety razor (very trendy and traditionally “manly,” plus you save a fortune on disposable cartridges), cooking, dog-training, whatever guys want to learn how to do. Or there could be a skill-exchange event, where guys could volunteer to teach something they know to everyone else.

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

What if we could get some sponsors? Like maybe hit up Dollar Shave Club or something to come by and advertise themselves and hand out some free razors?

(Because for they had an advertisement that shows that they have the same razors for men and women, which I like, though their advertising on TV has been male-only for a while…)

I don’t know of too many options though. Anyone else have any ideas?

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

Hmmm, what do manginas like? We could get an apron seller, a body-waxing business, and Diptyque scented candles to sponsor it!

No, seriously, it’s hard, because the things I really think tie in well are mostly nonprofits themselves: the Wounded Warrior Project, Sunday Assembly, the Gottman Institute, Legal Aid … I guess I see it appealing mostly at first to well-educated younger urban guys so I would think adventure travel companies, grooming products (The Art of Shaving is getting huge), maybe some kind of fitness company thing? Publishers with relevant books?

InvestigationCone
InvestigationCone
5 years ago

There is no parody so extreme that they fail to live up to it. Take this Onion Editorial cartoon, for example. http://o.onionstatic.com/images/18/18390/original/700.jpg?4942

epitome of incomprehensibility

Yup, men are oppressed by sexy women. As well as supposedly ugly women. And, oh yeah, women are stealing all the men’s jobs.

There, I summed it all up for free!

And yes to the idea of an actual men’s issues conference! (I’m not a man so I can’t relate to men AT ALL, of course [/sarcasm] plus I’m far to the north in wintery Montreal, but I’d be interested to see something like this happening!

PussyPowerTantrum
PussyPowerTantrum
5 years ago

@contrapangloss

How serious are we about this thing?

I’d like to try and get serious, and see how far we get. Maybe we could hook up with other groups, drum up interest by advertising on other sites. And maybe snag one David Futrelle as speaker or panelist? I hear he knows a thing or two about misogyny. 😉

I like all these scholars, it sounds like they’re all in relevant subjects and would contribute a lot. A few academic talks or panels would be an excellent addition, if we can get some of these folks on board. Once we have a date and a title at least we can start fishing. Concrete arrangements for plane, board, and speaking fees would be even better.

Sponsorship is an excellent idea, too. A few would go a long way toward covering the cost, reducing the load on donations and ticket sales. A Kickstarter could cover the rest, maybe? Our notoriety might help with publicity–just imagine how it would break manospherians’ brains to hear that David Futrelle’s readers are starting up a men’s issues convention.

(Speaking of issues, I’m throwing Dudes Got Issues out there as a title suggestion.)

I propose we move to a dedicated forum/chat to start talking about this and to divvy up tasks. Maybe the Artistry for Feminism. And Kittens. could be rebooted for the purpose, or maybe there are better options out there for a geographically dispersed group to plan and work together. Google Chat and Docs? Hmm.

@ParadoxicalIntentions

Another beneficial group to arrange talks for would be trans people.

Rogan of LBT is a trans guy and artist, if he has time he could give a talk and sell some comics at a stand. Pretty sure we can get other trans speakers, too.

@InvestigationCone

There is no parody so extreme that they fail to live up to it.

That comic is literally Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power. You know you’re doin it wrong if you sound like an Onion editorial.

Orion
5 years ago

Aura, Thalia,

Domestic violence and housing would be a great topic to cover, but we’d need to make sure we had someone qualified to talk about the options and resources men currently have, because it’s not actually true that men have “no access” to the existing resources.

Orion
5 years ago

I would like a a male nurse as a speaker and/or a panel of male nurses, childcare workers, elementary school teachers, and other majority-female professions. Topics could include the benefits of those careers (for men who may not have considered them), ways to avoid discrimination, privileges to be conscious of, and strategies everyone can use to de-stigmatize these jobs.

PussyPowerTantrum
PussyPowerTantrum
5 years ago

We might not be able to cover all these great topics in one year, but it would be awesome to have at least some fliers and other information from domestic violence victim support groups etc. Maybe these groups could pay for a booth to place informational materials and a knowledgeable person to chat. That’s both financial support for the conference and outreach for the group.

Sarity
Sarity
5 years ago

I’ve never been more serious, David: I would absolutely support such an event, financially and with my attendance/word of mouth. The above issues are in desperate need of being addressed without hatred, and I’d love to be a part of demonstrating that they can be.

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
5 years ago

Time and childcare are a problem for me, so I probably won’t be able to attend the actual conference (though if the stars align and I’ll be there with bells on). I’d be happy to do any kind of remote help that I could, though, and I’ll of course throw in some $$ when the kickstarter/gofundme gets rolling.

Dani Alexis
Dani Alexis
5 years ago

I just finished paying my fees for two of the largest legit academic conferences held in the US: the International Congress on Medieval Studies and the Society for Disability Studies conference. The combined total came to less than $399. The total for room, board, and fees for both will run me about $700.

LOL UR UNREASONABLE FEES

NonServiam
5 years ago

You know what bothers me the most about that pricing? The conference costs THAT much but anyone who wants to go to the pizza party finale still has to pay $15, not cool guys, not cool.

sunnysombrera
5 years ago

My career is in marketing and communications so I could help with how to get the word out about this conference.

Where are we going to host it though?

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
5 years ago

The conference costs THAT much but anyone who wants to go to the pizza party finale still has to pay $15

$15 for pizza? Damn.

contrapangloss
5 years ago

So, we should start a page or a thread for organizing this. If we’re going to organize it. It’d be cool.

As I said, I’m absolutely not to be counted for with being able to help with anything until the end of the current semester, because so much stuff to do, but yeah.

For hosting question, pick a city! Preferably a mid sized city, so that cost of the venue isn’t through the roof.

For instance, choosing Carnegie Hall as a venue would be silly. Extremely silly.

For a first years conference, it’s better to err on the side of “too small” but have internet hardware to live-stream and interact (and then make plans to get bigger next time) than go “too big” and blow the budget, fill to far below capacity, and just generally be sad…

sunnysombrera
5 years ago

We should get other feminist blogs on board. Strength in numbers.

ej
ej
5 years ago

For a first years conference, it’s better to err on the side of “too small” but have internet hardware to live-stream and interact

I agree. Since we are spread out all over the world, I really think the live stream options are a great idea.

Tyra Lith
Tyra Lith
5 years ago

I’d love to support a conference like this with a donation and would appreciate live stream options (I’m kind of stuck in Europe 😉 )!

Thalia
Thalia
5 years ago

Live stream definitely seems like the most achievable option.

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

@The discussion about location: I would suggest we do it online first, to minimize cost. We don’t know how interested people will be in this sort of thing, so that might help us to garner interest for a physical con next year.

If we get enough attendees to the online one, we could see about hosting a physical one. (And for those who can’t attend physically, we could offer maybe a virtual benefits kind of thing for donating? Like exclusive clips of the talks, etc?)

fakecisgirl
5 years ago

Klan gatherings weren’t that expensive back in the day…I mean, this is the modern Klan rally, it’s got a bunch of white supremacist white dudes.

I guess the added misogyny, transexterminationism, ableism, and “science” are why it costs more for their modern equivalent.

Or maybe these shitstains are getting fleeced by their own messiahs. Your call.

Kate Minter
Kate Minter
5 years ago

“Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.” – Under the Tuscan Sun

The strong build bridges; the weak yell at the river.