debate drama hypocrisy lying liars paul elam Uncategorized violence against men/women

>Debate Drama: Dalrock is a Lying Liar


Debating Men’s Rights Activists can be a lot like arguing with a kid who puts his hands over his ears and shouts “la la la I can’t hear you!”

During my abortive debate with Paul Elam on Domestic Violence, I had a hard time getting him to respond to my arguments; instead, he devoted much of his energy to arguing against experts I never cited and arguments I never made.(EDIT: See all my debate posts and some commentary here.)

Now the blogger “Dalrock” has decided to weigh in on the debate — despite the fact that by his own admission he didn’t actually read the whole thing. Not surprisingly, he completely misrepresents my argument:

His argument was that since he could point to more studies showing the orthodox feminist view, his perspective must be right.

Either he didn’t read more than a paragraph or two of what I wrote, or he’s incapable of understanding logic, or, well, he’s a lying liar.

At the moment I’m leaning towards the first explanation; I’m being generous here.

But it’s hard to see the next bit as anything but, well, that lying liar thing.

Mentioning my post responding to Elam’s disgraceful “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” post, which was not even part of the debate proper, Dalrock ignores Elam’s obnoxious provocation and brings up a similarly obnoxious, similarly disgraceful Jezebel post from several years back, in which several Jezebel staffers and a host of commenters there gleefully admitted to beating up boyfriends. (Elam and I both mentioned it in our posts; it was Elam’s excuse for writing his post in the first place.)

According to Dalrock, my response to the Jezebel post went roughly as follows:

The feminist looked like he might come to just in time to avoid the count.  He started mumbling incoherently that the link didn’t prove anything, and there weren’t that many women eagerly recounting tales of abusing their boyfriends.  Besides, the women were probably lying and had really just been defending themselves.  And none of the comments looked that bad to him anyway.  Most of those guys probably eventually recovered with proper medical treatment.

Even aside from the dopey boxing metaphor, this is simply fiction. Let’s break it down.

He started mumbling incoherently that the link didn’t prove anything, and there weren’t that many women eagerly recounting tales of abusing their boyfriends. 

I didn’t say that.

Besides, the women were probably lying and had really just been defending themselves.

I didn’t say that.

And none of the comments looked that bad to him anyway.  Most of those guys probably eventually recovered with proper medical treatment.

I didn’t say that. He’s simply making shit up. Or, as some might put it, lying.

If you want to know what I did say, you can see it here.

When I pointed all this out in Dalrock’s comments, he responded with:

You mean you weren’t really unconscious in a boxing ring knocked out by a commenter, and came to just before the final count?

Yeah, the fact that you made a dumb boxing joke means it’s totally ok to lie about what I said.

To my regular readers: Sorry about all the drama here. To paraphrase Bob Dole, I’m just trying to get these guys to “stop lying about my record.”

Also: Elam himself poked his head up in the comments to Dalrock’s post to offer a response of sorts to my final debate post; needless to say, it’s pretty feeble. You can read it here, and if you skip down a few posts you should be able to read my response to it; I will also be appending it to my original post.

debate paul elam violence against men/women

>Paul Elam’s big mistake on domestic violence: A case study in MRA self-deception


I didn’t think I was going to reply to Paul Elam’s latest post in our abortive “debate” on domestic violence  — see here for the details on why it fell apart, and here for details on his childish and unethical behavior since and here for the rest of my debate posts — but he’s really outdone himself this time, with an utterly spectacular misreading of an important research report on violence against women. Indeed, I’ve read over the relevant portion of his post several times, because I can’t quite believe he’s saying what he seems to be saying. If he is, and I have no other explanation for his remarks, his post becomes something of a case study in the way in which antifeminist dogma can distort even the most basic analysis of empirical data.

In the context of my debate with Elam, it’s not an insignificant error. Indeed, Elam sees his erroneous conclusion on this research as a sort of trump card in our debate, the grand finale to his final post in the debate. The only problem is that he’s completely wrong.

You don’t have to take my word for it. To make sure there was absolutely no doubt that Elam was misinterpreting the report, I contacted one of the report’s authors. She indeed confirmed that Elam’s interpretation was flat out wrong. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Let’s get into the details, shall we?

The report in question is one I cited in my initial post, titled Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. (EDIT: You can find a pdf of it here.) The paper, co-written by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, summarizes the findings of a massive survey on violence jointly undertaken by the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, despite the title, also dealt with violence against men. The researchers surveyed 16,000 people, divided equally between men and women, about the violence they had experienced over their lifetimes — specifically, whether or not they had been raped, physically assaulted, or stalked.

Elam’s ideologically driven misreading of the report starts with a misreading of the opening paragraph of the report, a brief historical summary of how the rise of feminism led researchers to start to seriously pay attention to violence against women:

Violence against women first came to be viewed as a serious social problem in the early 1970s, in part because of the reemergence of the Women’s Movement. In unprecedented numbers, scholars trained in such diverse disciplines as philosophy, literature, law, and sociology began to examine violence against women in the context of a feminist ideology.

All of this is a pretty straightforward accounting of what actually happened. But, the researchers continue:

Despite the resulting outpouring of research on violence against women, particularly in the areas of rape and intimate partner violence, many gaps remain in our understanding of violence against women. Until now, empirical data on the relationship between certain types of violence against women, such as childhood victimization and subsequent adult victimization, have been limited. Reliable information on minority women’s experiences with violence and on the consequences of violence against women, including rates of injury and use of medical services, is also limited.

So far, the meaning of these remarks is crystal clear: Though feminism inspired a great outpouring of research on violence against women, there was still insufficient reliable empirical data to measure the true extent of the problem.

The researchers then go on to present the details of the National Violence Against Women Survey, a study designed to provide precisely what they said was lacking: reliable empirical data on the various forms of violence against women.  (In order to provide more context for this data, and to provide a basis for comparison, the study also asked the same questions to an equal number of men.)

Elam, though, reads this relatively straightforward introduction to the report as a sinister statement of purpose. Highlighting the phrases “Women’s Movement” and “in the context of a feminist ideology,” he declares:

Yes, in this the very first paragraph of the study, they identify not as academicians, but feminist ideologues. With a profound lack of erudition that can only be rooted in hubristic hegemony, they inform readers from the beginning that this is a political action. Straight from jump.

Not a promising start for Elam. But we haven’t gotten to Elam’s biggest error. 

Elam’s Great Misunderstanding starts off innocently enough: he cites data from the report on rape and physical assault that shows that, with the exception of the category of rape, men report suffering more violence than women. This is a fairly unsurprising result; numerous studies have found the same thing.

Note that this data measures violence overall, NOT intimate partner violence by itself. Most of the violence against men is in fact perpetrated by other men.

Elam then shows a chart from the study that looks at the incidence of intimate partner violence, broken down into various categories of violence; it shows women more than three times as likely to report being victimized by IPV than men.

It’s what Elam does next that truly boggles the mind. After noting that the data did indeed seem to suggest that women are the primary victims of IPV, he firmly declares this conclusion “wrong.” No, he says, what the dastardly feminist researchers did was to “factor weigh for under reporting [but] to their disgrace they did not figure it in to the graphs.”

As proof for this, Elam quotes a relatively straightforward passage in the text that discusses some of these results, and specifically refers back to the chart in question:

It is important to note that differences between women’s and men’s rates of physical assault by an intimate partner become greater as the seriousness of the assault increases. For example, women were two to three times more likely than men to report that an intimate partner threw something that could hurt or pushed, grabbed, or shoved them. However, they were 7 to 14 times more likely to report that an intimate partner beat them up, choked or tried to drown them, threatened them with a gun, or actually used a gun on them (see exhibit 8).

After quoting this text, Elam triumphantly declares victory:

And so there you have it.  A rough sketch of the math will lead you to a very familiar situation.

Domestic Violence- Women are half the problem.

Huh? The first time I read this I was simply baffled. Elam posts a chart showing that women report being the victim of IPV more often than men do, then a paragraph discussing the very same results, which says exactly the same thing, and which specifically refers back to that very same chart, and somehow concludes that … women are responsible for half the problem?

It took several rereadings for me to even grasp how he might have come to that utterly erroneous conclusion. Apparently, as best as I can figure it, he has interpreted the word “report” in the text to mean “overreport” instead of, you know, “report.” (Or that it indicated in some way that women overreported in comparison to men, who underreported, or something along these lines.) So that, as Elam figures it, the numbers in the text basically cancel out the numbers in the chart. In fact, the numbers in the text reflect the exact same data as the numbers in the chart.

Thus Elam transforms, in his mind at least, an empirical report of survey results that challenge his central claim — that women are half the problem in domestic violence — into one that proves his pet theory, and which reveals the perfidity of devious, cunning feminists.

Just so there would be absolutely no question that Elam is completely mistaken in his conclusion, I got in touch with Patricia Tjaden, one of the key researchers behind the survey, and the co-author of the summary Elam quoted from. She told me that, indeed, his interpretation of the figures in the paper is flat out wrong. As she put it in an email:

Yes, you are right in your interpretation of our results: Generally
speaking, in our study “reported” means respondents disclosed that they had
ever been a victim of a specific type of violent victimization. So, for
example, as presented in Exhibit 3 in our report on intimate partner
violence … 8.5 % of women compared to 0.6% of men
disclosed that they had been beaten up by an intimate partner at some time
in their lifetime.  It should be noted that some were beaten up more than
once, but these estimates reflect only if they “ever had.”  Thus, (surveyed)
women were 14 times more likely than (surveyed) men to report ever being
beaten up by an intimate partner [8.5/0.6 = 14.17.]

I have no idea what your [debate] opponent means when he said our
estimates reflect over-reporting.  Perhaps he meant that women are more
likely than men to report victimization to an interviewer?  There is little
research on what influences women and men to disclose victimization during
telephone surveys.  We conducted a small study during the course of the
NVAWS to see if interviewer gender impacted male respondents’ responses to
survey questions.  (We didn’t do it for women because all the women were
interviewed by female respondents.)  We found that male respondents were
more likely to disclose sensitive information, such as age, income, fear and
accommodation behavior, and recent victimization, to male interviewers.
This contradicts findings from previous research that shows respondents –
male and female alike – feel more comfortable disclosing sensitive
information to female interviews in face-to-face surveys.

The paper she is citing here is this one, available online here (pdf format):

Tjaden, P & Thoennes, N. (2000).  Extent, nature, and consequences of
intimate partner violence:  Findings from the National Violence Against
Women Survey.  Washington, DC: US Department of Justice NCJ 181867.

The only real question is whether Elam has distorted the results of the NVAWS deliberately. I don’t actually think so. He is enough of an ideologue to believe that a report based on a massive government study and which has been exposed to an enormous amount of scrutiny over the years in fact secretly proves his pet theory.

One final note: Elam also makes a big deal of the fact that the NVAW used the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) in its surveys, a research tool which I have criticized in my previous posts in the debate. As is often the case with Elam, this is a half-truth. The survey, as Tjadan noted in her email to me, “used questions similar to those in the CTS, but framed them differently,” and thus got very different results.

I will end with another comment from Tjaden, which helps to put this debate in a broader context:

I know this debate over whether men and women are equally likely to
perpetrate violence against their intimate partners is very confusing and I
have spent a good part of my career attempting to convince fellow
researchers and the federal government that we need to spend time and money
figuring out why different studies (i.e. different methodological approaches)
have yielded such disparate findings.  This would be far more fruitful than
pointing fingers at each other and calling each other names.

This is a topic I will take up further in future posts.

debate douchebaggery drama MRA paul elam Uncategorized violence against men/women

>Paul Elam’s continuing childish and unethical behavior


When I agreed to debate Paul Elam on domestic violence on his web site, I clearly underestimated how childish, and unethical, he really is.

After I bowed out of the debate — see the details here — he decided to run the whole thing under a childish, gloating headline, and with an introduction labeling me a “fucking moron.” (EDIT: See here for my posts without Elam’s editorializing.)

Because of this behavior, I requested he either remove the headline and the obnoxious introduction, or remove my contributions to the debate from his web site entirely. After getting no response from him to this, I sent another email telling him to simply take down my writings from his web site.

Legally, he does not own any rights to my writings, and because of his behavior he no longer has my permission to run them. I may pursue legal action.

Paul, unfortunately, has chosen to escalate the situation, by running an even more childish post titled “David Futrelle- Covered in Pin Feathers and Clucking,” in which he writes:

let it be known now that any blogger in the sphere, MRA or otherwise, has my permission to repost this debate in full on their blog or website.

Obviously he has no more right to do this than I have the right to take his car on a joy ride.

He’s also apparently pitched the idea of reposting the whole debate on The Spearhead. While he doesn’t have the right to do this, and I’ve told The Spearhead that they do not have the right to reprint my writings, I might agree to the proposition provided that I’d be guaranteed in writing by The Spearhead that it would run with a neutral headline, that my latest response to Paul’s “final” post would be included, and a few other conditions.

And I would have no problem continuing the debate with Paul on The Spearhead until we each post 5 posts, as per our original agreement, were I to work out the necessary details with The Spearhead and get an agreement in writing. Or we could finish the debate right here.

I stand by everything I wrote in the debate, and have no problem continuing it, provided it be on a venue not controlled by Paul Elam and with some basic rules to guarantee fairness set forth in writing. (Paul would have to agree in writing to run the debate under a neutral headline on his site as well.)

Oh, and one final note: Paul has also removed the links back to here from the original debate, thus breaking still another condition I insisted on in order to participate in the debate in the first place. And he’s banned me from commenting in the comments section under the debate posts.

This is all very stupid and very petty.

Let me offer a challenge to anyone in the MRM whose ethics are more developed than Paul’s: Stand up and object to his illegal and unethical behavior. Were a feminist to pull this sort of thing on an MRA, I would certainly stand up and object to it.

paul elam

>The Domestic Violence Debate has begun


EDIT: My first response is up, here.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, MRA Paul Elam and I are debating Domestic Violence on his web site A Voice for Men. Elam’s first post has just gone up, a wrongheaded and rather underwhelming start to the debate; my response will appear in a day or two. (I will post a pointer here when it does.)

Instead of allowing open debate on his website, Elam generally segregates those he classifies as, er, “feminists and manginas” on a separate page. (I know, right?) But he says he’s suspended that rule for this debate, so I urge anyone here in that particular demographic to go over there and start picking apart his errors. (Paul and I have agreed to keep out of the comments section for the debate.)

douchebaggery drama homophobia paul elam Uncategorized

>Famous all over town

>Apparently, they can’t look away. A couple of days after Paul Elam — the MRA elder I am scheduled to debate on the topic of domestic violence later this week — launched a weird tirade against me on his blog, I’m now getting attention (and some traffic) from Ferdinand Bardamu at In Mala Fide, in a post urging MRAs to, er, stop paying attention to me.

As is generally the case with my MRA critics, it’s basically a bunch of empty insults. But as empty insults go, they’re not half bad. He calls me, among other things, a “twerp,” a “feminist quisling,” and “a miserable mediocrity who’s trying to get famous, an ant in our blog ecosphere.” He somehow manages to avoid the term “mangina” altogether.

There is one bit that’s actually obnoxious. In an attempt to explain something he said in a homophobic post of his I quoted last week, he says this:

radical gay activists, in their obnoxious way of shoving their lifestyles in the faces of the heterosexual majority and demonizing them, are poking and prodding an elephant. Elephants are big, heavy and have sharp tusks, and can gore or stomp you to death without breaking a sweat. If gays don’t clean up their act and stop treating straight people with contempt … they could inspire a violent homophobic backlash. Capisce?

Is it just me, or does anyone else suspect that the people given to “warning” gays about a “possible violent homophobic backlash” would be the first to get in line to stomp gays like an elephant in such a backlash?

EDIT: Oops! Speaking of attention, I forgot to add this actual screen capture. Hey, try it yourself.

drama evil women paul elam pics

>Cartoon of the Day: Tied Down

>Remember all those outrageously sexist cartoons that used to fill the pages of our popular periodicals back in the good old days before evil feminism brought its blight upon the world? They’re having a sort of second life on the Internet, and apparently some people still find them hi-larious. I found this is on an Indian Men’s Rights site, which offered this little bit of commentary: “So so so true……………….”

EDIT: Apparently my not thinking that this cartoon is hi-larious makes me the “Cartoon Monitor for the Confederacy of Dunces,” or so says the often inadvertently hi-larious Paul Elam.

paul elam the spearhead Uncategorized

>Paul Elam’s Evasive Pseudo-Eloquence


Edward Bulwer-Lytton

patron saint of terrible,

terrible writers

There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can’t string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.

Paul Elam is one of those. An influential blogger, at least within the marginal mini-world of the Men’s Rights Movement, Elam writes polemics for The Spearhead and his own web site, A Voice For Men. His topics range from the evils of chivalry to “Death Row and The Pussy Pass.” And they’re full of sentences like this:

[G]ender feminism is not the light of reason, but much more like a burning cross, issuing a grotesque, dystopian glow; a suitable backlight for an Orwellian nightmare.

Or this, from an essay about the dilemmas of young men today:

[T]hey are suffering from the loss of things never held, from things missing but never known. They are, quite literally, a lost generation of the walking wounded, wandering blindly from a battlefield on which they never knew they stood.

Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2. 

As you may have already gathered, Elam’s flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they’re essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.

In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They’re both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn’t a Grand Kleagle. It’s a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.

So why am I picking on Elam’s writing style? Shouldn’t I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can’t separate the two. Elam’s style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.

Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain “staleness of imagery” and a “lack of precision.” His analysis fits Elam’s essays to a T:

As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

George Orwell, being Orwellian

And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer “a defence of the indefensible,” whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.

With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He’s not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn’t gussied them up with ponderously “fancy” prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam’s thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn’t recognize the word “misandry”:

A culture that refuses to acknowledge that a perfectly legitimate word exists on paper, is in effect denying its existence to the collective consciousness. … It is like trying to describe a cloud without being able to use the word itself- to a world that does not believe in clouds. We are limited to talking around the subject; we present our meanings in metaphors and similes and anecdotes.

Reduced to its essence, though, Elam’s claim here is simply absurd: Because “misandry” isn’t a common enough term to include in his computer’s dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.

Really, Paul? We’re “limited to talking around the subject?” I really haven’t noticed much of that. The term “man-hating” gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “feminazi.”

In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you’ve noticed it.

Elam doesn’t always write in such a stilted, evasive style. Sometimes he butches it up a bit, launching crude tirades against “mangina morons,” or telling a woman who was sexually harassed as a tween and an early teen that “guess what, cupcake, when you start growing tits, men start looking at them.” In a recent piece about the impending execution of a female murder-plotter with an IQ of 72, he wrote of his desire to “throw some burgers on the grill, crack open a few cold ones, and watch them ice this murdering bitch on pay-per-view.” (This despite the fact that he actually opposes the death penalty.)

Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s true to your nature. You’re not a grand philosopher; you’re not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you’re a dick. So write like one.