UPDATE: The conference has now been un-cancelled. See end of post for details.
By David Futrelle
I wouldn’t exactly call this a profile in courage. Paul Elam of Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men just announced that he was cancelling his group’s upcoming conference in Australia because he’s afraid that crackpot Aussie antifeminist Bettina Arndt — a former ally of his — might say mean things about it.
Here’s the story, as Elam told it in a post on AVFM yesterday:
Bettina Arndt, sex therapist and purported advocate for men and boys … threatened AVFM Editor and [Australian Men’s Rights Association] President Robert Brockway that she would come out publicly against the conference if we did not choose a different location … .
Elam assured his readers that her alleged ultimatum was real and he knew it because Mr. Brockway is a totally honest dude, unlike Arndt, who in addition to not being a dude is also someone with “sharp elbows and [an] often officious, demanding nature.”
That’s actually pretty restrained for Elam, who normally delights in calling women “bitches” and worse. But apparently he’s scared of Arndt’s vast power; as I understand it, she’s kind of a big deal in Australia, or at least someone who regularly stirs controversies in the media for saying and doing ridiculously horrible things.
Elam insisted that her dastardly alleged threat needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Bettina Arndt does indeed have the clout to back up her threats. She could no doubt make holding the conference even more difficult than usual. With her media savvy and contacts, she could easily do damage to the event. Indeed, that is exactly what she threatened to do if she wasn’t allowed to call the shots.
And you can’t have a woman calling the shots, can you?
This reality left us with only three choices. One, bend to Arndt’s capricious demands and then suffer through the follow-up threats and ultimatums that would surely follow. In short, we could bow and scrape to a bully. Second, we could defy her and risk $50,000, hoping she would not follow through with her personal desire to destroy that which she cannot control. Or third, we could close the door on this event, learn a valuable lesson about Bettina Arndt, and regroup in the days ahead for the next ICMI.
As the head of AVFM, and the financial underwriter of the event, I have opted for number three.
Really, dude? You’re forced to cancel a conference because some crackpot mini-celebrity allegedly threatens to badmouth you for the world’s dumbest reason? (I mean, there are plenty of non-dumb reasons to badmouth Elam; being a bad location scout is not one of them.) It’s hard not to wonder if Elam was having trouble raising funds for the event and seized on this as an excuse to cancel a conference that was probably never going to happen any way.
Elam has a long history of bitter feuds with former allies. He broke with his former Number Two dude John Hembling years ago, allegedly because he was annoyed that Hembling had started a group with COCK as its acronym. He broke with former AVFM ”
Activism Director” Attila Vinczer in 2015, and Vinczer was so mad he used his still active editor’s account on AVFM to post a 4600 word screed attacking Elam ON ELAM’S OWN WEBSITE.
More recently he broke with poor anger management poster boy and former AVFM editorial workhorse Dean Esmay, with the two trading assorted recriminations on their respective YouTube channels.
Either Elam is really, really, really hard to get along with because he’s an angry, terrible person or he has a knack for picking friends who are really, really, really hard to get along with because they’re angry, terrible people. Or both. I’m going with both.
As far as I can tell Arndt hasn’t responded publicly to Elam’s accusations against her. I would definitely like to hear her side of the story, which I suspect will bear little resemblance to Elam’s unbelievable tale.
LET THEM FIGHT!
UPDATE: Well, that fight didn’t last long. Arndt issued an apology and Elam has announced that the conference is back on.
Some of you are likely aware that Paul Elam from A Voice For Men has announced that the ICMI conference in Sydney will not go ahead because I was threatening not to support the conference because of the chosen venue.
It’s true that, in a moment of passion, I said and also wrote in an email that I didn’t think I could support the conference if it were held in Hunter Valley. Understandably, Paul interpreted this statement as a threat.
I am sorry I said it, and sabotaging the conference is the last thing I would ever want to do.
Elam, who had called Arndt a “bully” whom he had long thought was a “a potential ‘problem child,'” has accepted her public apology. In his earlier post Elam wrote that she was at best a “purported advocate for men and boys.” Now Elam has swapped out the word “purported” and calls her a “dedicated advocate for men and boys and an invaluable contributor to the public narrative about their lives.”
So, barring any further infantile drama, the conference is on.
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