As the news broke this morning that the Germanwings plane crash may have been a deliberate murder/suicide caused by the flight’s co-pilot, readers of the leading Men’s Rights website A Voice for Men were greeted by a post from site founder Paul Elam titled “A little blood in the mix never hurt a revolution.”
The headline on Elam’s post, a muddled mess that’s mostly a response to recent infighting amongst MRAs, recalls a disturbing post of his from several years ago titled “How to Build a Man Bomb.” (Archived here.)
Ostensibly a warning about the cost of ignoring male rage, it read a lot more like a threat.
I don’t often write about Alison Tieman – the eccentric FeMRA videoblogger known better as Typhon Blue – in large part because, well, have you ever watched one of her videos? Her arguments and assertions bear so little relation to what the rest of us know as reality it’s as if she lives in some weird inverted world of her own making.
It’s rather difficult to address the arguments of someone when virtually everything she says is wrong – logically, historically, morally – in some fundamental way.
But I’m going to have a go at her latest video anyway, because, well, it’s only 4 minutes long, which will make unpacking its fractal wrongness a little less of a daunting task. Also, there’s a kitty in it.
One classic bad argument against feminism is the disingenuous claim that “we don’t need it any more.” In the bad old days, proponents of this argument would concede, women may have faced some pesky little obstacles, but now that they can vote, and own property, and briefly work as the executive editor of The New York Times, there’s just no need for feminism any more. Problem solved!
But these days the great minds of the Men’s Rights movement have moved beyond this bad argument to a worse one: feminism was never really necessary in the first place, because women have never been oppressed.
The jig is up. I and my collaborators have kept it secret for a long time now, but for reasons I will explain in a moment, I feel I need to come clean about this now, before it is too late:
I created Paul Elam.
That is: “Paul Elam” is a character created and developed by me and my friend Paul Henderson, an amazing improvisatory actor who has taken on the task of playing “Elam” in YouTube Videos, radio shows, and on a few occasions in the real world as well.
I first came up with the character of “Paul Elam” — “Elam” is just “male” spelled backwards — some seven years ago after reading Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power and wondering what an updated version of Farrell would look like today as a YouTube ranter. I brought the idea to my friend Paul Henderson, a feminist comedian who was already doing an “angry white man” character in his comedy act.
After a bit of workshopping, we created “Paul Elam” and his “Happy Misogynist” YouTube channel. I wrote the scripts, and Henderson read them out. As time went on and as Henderson got more into his new alter ego, he began adding bits of dialogue of his own. Sometimes when he got too deep into his character of “Paul Elam” he started to scare me a little.
After some success on YouTube and at Men’s News Daily, we decided to set up A Voice for Men. Shortly afterwards I set up Man Boobz, mainly as a way to promote AVFM and generate traffic for “Elam’s” site.
Since then, things have just snowballed. Henderson put me in touch with an amazing group of Canadian improv comedians called the Pouteenagers and the characters of Girl Writes What, John The Other, Typhon Blue, and DannyBoy were born.
Not all of those at AVFM are in on the gag. Dean Esmay for example, is completely sincere, as are most of the recent additions to the AVFM roster.
Up until about a month ago, the whole “Paul Elam”/A Voice for Men project seemed to be going swimmingly, generating buzz — and even a good deal of cash, much of which we have been donating to an assortment of feminist charities.
We kept piling absurdity on absurdity — like adding “human” to “men’s rights activist” to become “men’s human rights activist” — but no one ever guessed that it was all an elaborate prank! We were prepared to let the whole thing run for at least another year, getting sillier and sillier, before fessing up in a joint press conference with me and “Elam.”
But something terrible seems to have happened to my old friend Paul Henderson. After 7 years of playing “Paul Elam,” he seems to have become lost in the character he and I have created. Paul Henderson, in other words, has become Paul Elam.
He used to joke with April Fulieu, our makeup wiz, about how horrified he was each time he looked in the mirror and saw “Elam” staring back at him. But after we shot the last video with him he refused to let April take the makeup off, and when she went to tell me about this he fled out the back door of the studio.
We haven’t heard from him since. At least not as Paul Henderson.
I’m not sure what to do. He’s changed all the passwords on the AVFM server, so I can’t shut it down from my end, and I haven’t been able to contact any of the Pouteenagers either. I worry they too may have gone over to the dark side as well.
I can only hope that by posting this I can give him the wake-up call he needs – or at least arouse enough suspicion that the “sincere” AVFMers will confront him and possibly jar him back to reality.
The discussion amongst the Men’s Rightsers is actually less awful than one might expect, with only a few commenters making excuses for the man, or blaming his ex-wife. Many of the regulars are actually condemning his actions straightforwardly.
And then there’s TyphonBlue, the highly inventive female Men’s Rights activist who is one of A Voice for Men’s self-proclaimed “Honey Badgers.” She thinks the fact that the man tried to kill himself along with his son is a point in his favor and, more than that, a sign that men are better than women.
So my post yesterday pointed out a rather extravagantly misogynistic post by the Men’s Rights Activist behind the blog Men Against Misandry. If you read it, you probably remember the money quote from his post, which he was so proud of he posted separately on Facebook:
If women sucked dick half as well as they suck at sports there would be no more divorces in the great US of A.
Today a new commenter here on Man Boobz, evidently an MRA irritated that I had quoted his comrade, posted a link to a discussion on the Men’s Rights subreddit that went up a couple of hours ago, and that specifically disavowed this quotation, declaring “This is NOT who we are, and this is NOT Okay.” The thread, when last I checked, had gotten nearly 800 upvotes from the Men’s Rights regulars.
I thought to myself, “wow, a rare moment of self-reflection, and self-policing, from MRAs!”
A Voice for Men’s so-called “Honey Badgers” — its little super-team of female MRAs, led by blabby Canadian videoblogger Karen “GirlWritesWhat” Straughan — have a new theory about Anita Sarkeesian. And it’s a doozy.
Sarkeesian, you may recall, is a feminist cultural critic who’s faced pretty much nonstop harassment from misogynistic internet assholes since she launched a project to dissect sexist tropes in video games. AVFM has contributed, in its own special way, to this wave of harassment, with articles describing Sarkeesian as, among other things, a “moneygrubbing liar” and a “queen bee … girl interloper” in the world of video games; AVFM’s Dean Esmay also held her partially responsible, along with an assortment of other internet feminists, for the suicide of one Canadian Men’s Rights Activist.
The principals at AVFM have blamed her for — either inadvertently or deliberately — bringing this harassment on herself by going to 4chan and posting about her project. (As I noted in a previous post, there’s no actual evidence she ever did this.)
The Honey Badgers, for their part, are certain that getting harassed by 4chaners was part of her devious plan all along.
Like all professional damsels in distress, Anita Sarkeesian had to choose a good dragon. Just the right looming shadow to fall over her delicate and fragile sensibilities; just the right cackling stage-villain to inspire her cries of helpless horror.
She chose 4-chan. An internet forum known for it’s underbelly of foul-tempered and hair-triggered trolls.
Then, after accusing Sarkeesian of inviting countless rape and death threats upon herself (and only a portion of it from 4channers, I should add), the Badgers take their weird conspiracy theory one step further:
But we at Honey Badger Radio have noticed something… odd. The wave of so-called hate that Anita received from her carefully chosen dragon, wasn’t really all that bad.
Yeah. A year and a half (so far) of pretty much unending harassment and baseless criticism, complete with violent threats directed not only at her but at other women who have defended her — that’s nothing.
Compared to 4-chan’s usual scorched earth strategy–raizing [sic] everything to the ground and pissing on the ashes, Anita got a little singed, like she sat too close to a campfire.
So we have to ask… Did 4-chan white knight Anita? I mean, come on. Was that the best 4 chan could do?
Yes, that’s right. The Honey Badgers are accusing those who sent rape and death threats to Anita Sarkeesian … of “white knighting” her.
Feminists often complain, with considerable justification, that Men’s Rights Activists try to turn every conversation about women’s issues into a game of “what about the men?” You’re talking about female rape victims — well, what about the male rape victims?
The trouble with this strategy, from the point of view of the Men’s Rights Activists anyway, is that this little “gotcha” is much less of a “gotcha” then they’d like it to be.
In the case of rape, for example, feminists are well aware that men are raped as well: the “Don’t Be That Guy” ad campaign, which sent so many MRAs into hysterics, focused on male victims as well as female ones. The emergency room rape advocate organization that a friend of mine volunteers for provides advocacy for victims regardless of gender.
So many MRAs have started playing another game: trying to twist the conversation around in order to cast women as the villains. Rape is a bit tough for them here, since the overwhelming majority of rapists are male. So MRAs talk about the alleged epidemic of female false accusers instead. Or they change the topic entirely and make dead baby jokes (see my post yesterday).
So a helpful Twitterer told me that I was a frequent topic of conversation on A Voice for Men’s Honey Badger “radio” show last night — that’s the one hosted by Karen Straughan (Girl Writes What) and Alison Tieman (Typhon Blue) and a newer addition to AVFM’s FeMRA stable named Della Burton. Bored, I went over to take a listen to the archived show. Well, bits and pieces of it, anyway. Life is short, and every minute of this show felt about an hour long.
Anyway, I missed most of whatever it was they said about me, but I did manage to force myself to sit through a good chunk of the segment featuring none other than Nick Reading, the guy who’s running a joke campaign for city council of Edmonton Alberta as the “Patriarchy Party” candidate. You know, the dude we talked about just yesterday.
The gals did their best to play along with his over-the-top patriarchal schtick, proclaiming themselves submissive inferior females unworthy of his manly phallus, and so on. It was as gratingly unfunny as you might imagine, and it went on and on. Even the Honey Badgers, perhaps wondering if this whole segment wasn’t a rather apt metaphor for their own role within A Voice for Men and the Men’s Rights movement at large, couldn’t quite bring themselves to laugh at any of Nick’s, er, humor.
At least not until, about 49 minutes into the show, he brought out the rape jokes.
Take a listen:
Paul “The Thought of Fucking Your Shit Up Gives Me an Erection” Elam, meet Nick “If They Didn’t Scream No, How Else Would I Get an Erection” Reading.
In case you weren’t able to make all that out, due to the clear-as-mud sound engineering job of AVFM’s James Huff — you may remember him as the guy responsible for this amazing rant — I have transcribed the exchange below as best I could, cutting out a few repeated phrases and ignoring some remarks that got buried under other remarks.
Nick Reading: No never means no. It only means yes. That’s an understanding that we have within the patriarchy.
Karen Straughan: It is.
Alison Tieman: That’s true. Actually “no” should be stricken from the English language because it simply makes no sense. How could any woman ever say no to the holy phallus unless she was criminally insane?
Nick: Criminally insane, yes.
Della Burton [?]: Criminally, yes.
Karen: But, but we shouldn’t strike “no” from all the dictionaries and the lexicons of language simply because there are numerous times in the course of a day when a man loves to say “no” to a woman.
Nick: I would almost insist on striking it from the non-male vernacular but if they didn’t scream it, how else would I get an erection?
Della [?]: Oh my goodness.
Karen: Right, you’re right.
Della: I hadn’t even thought of that.
Karen: So no is still in.
A Voice for Men: Promoting Human Rights, One Rape Joke at a Time
EDITED TO ADD: Below, a video on YouTube about this episode of Honey Badger radio, which not only looks at the show itself but at what was going on in the official chatroom for the show at the time, which turns out to be even creepier than the stuff said by Nick Reading on the show itself.
Along with the standard MRA misogyny from some of AVFM’s regulars, there were bizarre sexualized comments directed at the so-called Honey Badgers themselves: one commenter went on at length about how he wanted to use Karen Straughan’s breast milk in his coffee (and spike her coffee with his semen). Palani provides screenshots and everything. Some of her commentary is a bit problematic — she refers to them as “retards” at one point — but if you’ve got 15 minutes it’s worth a watch.