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The UK press has discovered Men’s Rights Activists again, and it’s sort of hilarious

Tory MP Philip Davies. Or, rather, six of him sort of smooshed together. I don;t know why I keep making graphics like these. Sorry.

By David Futrelle

It’s always a little disconcerting when the people I write about on this blog pop up in the, you know, real news. But, provided it’s not because they’ve murdered anyone, it can also be quite hilarious.

Earlier this week, it was the alt-right-adjacent former Gamergater Sargon of Akkad — a.k.a. Carl of Swindon — who took a bit of a drubbing in the press after announcing his candidacy for the European Parliament under the banner of the right-wing, immigrant-hating UKIP party. Carl discovered quite quickly that the absolutely horrendous stuff he says on the regular on YouTube doesn’t go over quite as well with the general public as it does with the extremely online shitposters who make up his fan base. Even The Sun has labeled him a “sicko.”

And now the British press has discovered the former glories of everyone’s favorite Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men, courtesy of Tory MP Philip Davies, who will be speaking at the AVFM-linked
International Conference on Men’s Issues, scheduled to take place in Chicago in August.

Because the laws of shit gravity mean that huge shits tends to attract other huge shits, Carl of Swindon will also be speaking at the event, as well as another YouTuber-turned-UKIP-candidate known as Count Dankula, who until his candidacy was best known for teaching his dog how to sieg heil. Davies, then sporting what was possibly the world’s worst haircut, spoke at a previous International Conference on Men’s Issues in 2016.

The Guardian, reporting on Davies’ planned appearance at this year’s event, noted that

Another speaker is Paul Elam, an American who leads a group called A Voice for Men. The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors extreme and far-right activity in the US, included Elam on a list of “male supremacists”.

Ah yes, we know him well.

After describing Elam’s repugnant Regsiter-Her site, a phony “offenders registry” that displayed profiles of feminist writers alongside those of convicted female sex offenders and other female criminals, The Guardian noted that

Elam wrote a response to one female critic [of Register Her] on the Voice for Men website saying: “You see, I find you, as a feminist, to be a loathsome, vile piece of human garbage. I find you so pernicious and repugnant that the idea of fucking your shit up gives me an erection.”

One of Elam’s Greatest Hits, that comment. The Guardian went on:

Elam has defended men responding violently to women who strike them, writing: “If you don’t want to be slapped, backhanded, punched in the mouth, decked or throttled, keep your stinking hands off of other people.”

He has called for a “bash a violent bitch month”, saying this was satire intended to raise awareness of female violence against men.

The “satire” claim has always been a bit laughable. What Elam actually said was that it would be justifiable and effective for men “to beat the living shit out of” women who hit them.

I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall … .

The only reason he wouldn’t advocate this course of action wholeheartedly (and non-satirically), he explained at the time, was that

it isn’t worth the time behind bars or the … anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.

Though the Guardian didn’t push back on the satire claim, the article still offered a pretty fair assessment of Mr. Elam, based on his own words. Since Elam hasn’t really accomplished much beyond talking shit on the internet, and amplifying the voices of others who are nearly as terrible as him, it’s a fair enough basis for judgement.

Elam always claimed that his shit talking was an ingenious strategy to get the attention of the world, after which he would (presumably) bring out his true self and emerge as a beloved elder statesman of the Men’s “Human Rights” movement.

It was basically a very underpants gnome-ish plan.

  1. Call women whores
  2. Get famous
  3. ???
  4. Men’s Rights utopia on earth

There were just a few problems with this plan. For one thing, Elam seems utterly incapable of “moving on” from being an asshole to being an actual admirable human being that non-misogynists could actually respect. “Asshole” is pretty much his essence. I mean, you can see for yourself in the video below just how he kicks back and relaxes with his friends. (I apologize for posting this video yet again, bad language and all, but it is perhaps the best short introduction to the essence of Elamism and one of my favorite short films of all time.)

Also, if you devote years of your life to saying the most horrific hateful shit on the internet, people tend to remember this hateful shit. Every time the Men’s Rights movement comes up in the news, Elam’s “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” post will too. If there was even a sliver of respectability to the Men’s Rights movement before Elam came along, he and his cronies have tarnished it forever.

And so it’s no wonder that Davies, trying to justify his appearance alongside Elam and Dankula and Carl of Swindon, has essentially thrown them under the bus. “Is no-one allowed to speak about [Men’s Rights issues] lest some nutter happens to also be at the same event?” he asked rhetorically when quizzed about his scheduled speech by talkradio.co.uk.

Hopefully there will be many more embarrassments in store for everyone involved in the conference before it gets underway in August.

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Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
1 year ago

If there was even a sliver of respectability to the Men’s Rights movement before Elam came along, he and his cronies have tarnished it forever.

Where could such a sliver of respectability have ever been found? Bizarro World? 🙂

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

The MRA conference is in Chicago? David, are you going to put on a disguise and try to infiltrate?

epronovost
epronovost
1 year ago

@Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation

There are feminist-friendly men’s right activists. Most of them talk and militate for things like equal paternity leave, representation of men in typically feminine occupation, men’s mental health (mostly suicide, depression and delinquency), boys difficulties in school and of course relationship issues including domestic violence. All of these issues are worth talking about. You don’t need to reject feminism to defend men’s rights. In fact, a lot of those “real” men’s right activists are also feminists and supporting women’s right group as two face of the same coin. Unfortunately, these people are almost systematically labelled feminist beta-cuck soy boy, orbiter, self-hating men, liberal snowflake by MRA’s like Elam and other mysogynists.

Not Edward
Not Edward
1 year ago

@Surplus to requirements

Where could such a sliver of respectability have ever been found? Bizarro World?

The first time anything resembling the “men’s rights movement” crossed my consciousness here in the UK was a thing calling itself “Fathers4Justice” where IIRC men would dress themselves in superhero costumes and attach themselves to or sit on the roofs of buildings to protest at what they said was the injustice of family courts basically automatically assigning complete custody of children to mothers and making no efforts to secure fathers access to their children and also the UKs Child Support Agency which was supposed to handle child support payments from fathers to mothers and which, to be fair, was responsible for operating what were at the time a set of insanely complicated and arbitrary rules for determining child support, and was spectacularly inefficient and incompetent.
“Fathers4Justice” were a bit of a joke and rapidly recognisably misogynist but they did have something of a point and both the family courts and the CSA were subsequently reformed.

Anne
Anne
1 year ago

Register-her.com has come back to life, it seems. There’s a link at AVfM.

Citerior Motive
Citerior Motive
1 year ago

IME the pro-feminist men’s movement tends to call itself that, rather than talking about ‘men’s rights’ per se—after all they acknowledge that men generally speaking have more rights than everyone else, not less. MRAs qua MRAs are pretty much the reactionary kind by definition.

Moggie
Moggie
1 year ago

Speaking of Carl of Swindon, there was also Marina Hyde’s Brexit piece on Friday, which skewered him pretty well. Spoiler: she does not like people who use the label “classical liberal”.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Many people are both in favor of feminism and of real men’s rights, i.e., for equal visitng rights or patenity leave. That is, of course, admirable. But when people *define* themselves publicly as “men’s rights activists”, they are almost always just women-haters. They never do anything *for* men; they merely spend their time fighting *against* women.

The same, incidentally, with those who do not simply love and promote western culture – professors of classical languages, for example, or players in symphony orchestras – but those who *define* themselves as such “defenders of western culture”, who are usually just racists. Just ask one of these self-declared “defenders of western culture” what is the last great novel he had read, or what his favorite symphony is. You’ll get nothing but blank stares.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

To add to my previous post: the same with people who publicly *identify* themselves as “state rights supporters” (racists), “fighters for justice for Palestine” (antisemites), etc.

It is perfectly possible to *be* in favor of state rights and not be a racist. Many people of all races think the federal government had overused its power, for example in ill-defined disasters like the “war on drugs”.

It is also perfectly possible to *be* in favor of a Palestinian state without being an antisemite. Many Jews in general, an Israelies in particular, are just that.

But those who identify as either publicly, go to “states rights” or “freedom for Palestine” rallies, etc., almost invariably care only about the states’ “right” to enforce segregation, or the Palestinans’ “right” to destroy Israel completely.

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
1 year ago

Still waiting for Donald Trump to do that promised “presidential pivot,” the one where he changes direction and starts to act like he’s not trying to destroy all life on earth.

Same with Paul Elam. I’m waiting for him to become a household name and then start acting like he’s got some sense. Even a little bit of sense.

Waiting but not holding my breath.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
1 year ago

I see, it’s the age-old “advance your cause by first making it look thoroughly unpalatable to decent folk” strategy. Ingenious!

Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton
1 year ago

I looked at the website for the conference. They don’t quite say where it’s happening, other than O’Hare Airport, which traditionally includes the hotels in nearby Rosemont with convention space. So either they don’t have a venue nailed down, or they’re keeping it secret unless you pay for a ticket.

Tosca, Chaos made Flesh, Servant of the Purring Jew
Tosca, Chaos made Flesh, Servant of the Purring Jew
1 year ago

I’m trying (and failing) to work out what the hell Elam and his pals are talking about in that video. They what about Jessica Valenti and their dicks? They seem to be declaring that they refuse permission for Jessica Valenti to suck their dicks, which seems like a win-win as I can’t imagine Ms Valenti has much interest in doing so.

Or are they suggesting Jessica Valenti should suck their dicks? Is that a general insult, as in “Suck my dick, Jessica Valenti!”, or a genuine invitation? Speak more clearly, my dudes.

And then chanting “No means no!”? Are they implying that Jessica Valenti would attempt to suck their dicks without their consent? That seems…unlikely.

What a disappointing attempt at a big finale; “Get ready ladies, there’s a lot more of this coming!”.

Women used to be property in Western society. It used to be legal to beat and rape your wife, and sell your daughter to the highest bidder. Men used to be able to keep women in utter financial dependence, deny us the right to work and vote, and force us to risk hideous death to bear children whether we wanted to or not. Men used to burn women alive for “witchcraft” if we got a little lippy.

And you’re threatening that you’re……..going to yell “Suck my dick!” at us. Congratulations. You shame your ancestors.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

There are feminist-friendly men’s right activists

No there aren’t. There are people who do the things you describe, but they do not call themselves MRAs and do not want anything to do with the MRM.

vaiyt
vaiyt
1 year ago

Can I just say that I hate when “journalists” report on a political movement by just taking their words at face value? It’s at least a bit refreshing when they actually do their job.

Susan
Susan
1 year ago

Morgue,

Thanks for that link. It was delightful!

Genjones
Genjones
1 year ago

@ Tosca –

A lot of people don’t know that clitorectomies and FGM were common in the west, prescribed by psychologists and doctors for behavioral correction in the United States from the Victorian era ALL THE WAY UP TO THE 1960s.

Tony
1 year ago

@Moggie – that article is an utter delight.

bats in the belfry to the nth power. Genius.

IBH Ardipithecus
IBH Ardipithecus
1 year ago

@Moggie – that article is an utter delight.

bats in the belfry to the nth power. Genius.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
1 year ago

Who is “Morgue”, Susan? There is nobody on this blog using that alias.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I’m guessing Moggie got autocorrected to Morgue? My phone does some wacky autocorrecting sometimes too.

Moggie
Moggie
1 year ago

I’m only dead inside.

Ichthyic
Ichthyic
1 year ago

Here’s hoping the one good thing that comes out of this most recent circus, is that more traffic gets driven here, to sanity central.

Brassica
Brassica
1 year ago

Thank you, Moggie! I did not previously know Marina Hyde’s work, but snickered and snorted my way through the entire essay… such gorgeous snark!
“Carl continues to justify this sort of thing on the basis that ‘I like racist jokes’. But … you don’t even tell any? You just say racist things and imagine that the SHOCK! of saying them is the gag. There’s no punchline, there’s no twist or inversion, there’s no art to it. I hate to break it to the lulz-seekers who wet their pants when anyone denigrates their craft, but literally anyone can be racist. It’s super-basic.”…
!!!

Brassica
Brassica
1 year ago

Thank you, Moggie! I had not run across Marina Hyde’s work before, but I snickered and snorted my way through the entire essay… So much gorgeous snark!

“Carl continues to justify this sort of thing on the basis that ‘I like racist jokes’. But … you don’t even tell any? You just say racist things and imagine that the SHOCK! of saying them is the gag. There’s no punchline, there’s no twist or inversion, there’s no art to it. I hate to break it to the lulz-seekers who wet their pants when anyone denigrates their craft, but literally anyone can be racist. It’s super-basic.”…
!