Just finished reading an article put out by GQ magazine (“Are You Man Enough for the Men’s Rights Movement?”; March 2015 edition; written by Jeff Sharlet) that is REALLY unflattering to the Men’s Rights Movement, particularly AVfM (A Voice For Men). Wow. I can tell you right now that that one’s not going to go over well in the public. Basically lampoons the whole movement and particularly that organization and those who attended its conference near Detroit last year.
Huh. I’m not sure how to respond on that one. The photography made everyone look very grim. Sage Gerard was painted as a real weirdo (and in his defense, here’s an audio clip he uploaded of his conversation with Jeff Sharlet), though Paul Elam didn’t fair much better. And the man referred to therein as Factory came across as one hell of a crude dad. Wow. The Honey Badgers came off seeming pretty inventive with the stories and claims they reportedly shared. And then of course there was the bit about a registered sex offender who drove many hours to attend the conference to defend his “right” to sexual access with 12 year olds. Hrmmm…
That was a hit piece. Probably wasn’t a good idea to talk to those people, especially not so casually as though they were bound to see and appreciate the perspectives of the MRAs. And one reason I say that is the author of the article went so far as to talk down about the VFW where the conference was relocated to, as if that had any real relevance whatsoever. Those details gave me the impression that the guy wasn’t approaching this journalistic project in good faith entirely. But then again, MRAs aren’t an easy bunch to relate with. I certainly have had enough trouble with most I’ve encountered online thus far (but then again, I myself am not the easiest person to relate with either).
Gonna have to side with Bernard Chapin on this one in so far as agreeing it wasn’t a good idea to let their guards down around these particular journalists. Better to strive to keep all communications very professional and above-board with such people going forward, lest that movement continue being publicly smeared.
But then again…I’m torn on this one, because I honestly understand why so many people take issue with the writings of Paul Elam and his tactics, plus plenty of what’s put out there by those who choose to follow him. Stated it before and will state it again — I don’t believe he’s a leader worth following. The man has some serious hostility issues and a problematic worldview. Sure, plenty of feminists do too, but that doesn’t negate one’s own. And I recognize I have my own issues as well, hence why I don’t call myself an activist and learned to keep outside of movements. Because I don’t like having my frustrations harnessed by others to help propel their own agendas. Winds up stealing one’s own power too often, IME, and leads to feeling invested to where one’s identity winds up wrapped up in a political game being driven by others. That can lead to a nasty wake-up call on down the road. Better to handle one’s own problems and pain among people who actually care about you, who aren’t just trying to use you to build power and influence for themselves.
Glad to have not been very politically active in feminism during the years I was attracted toward that, and glad to have figured out since then that gender-bent movements in general are most alluring to broken, damaged people wishing to cast blame off of themselves and onto another group they view as rivals. I don’t personally find the matter very funny — mostly unnerving really. And that’s why I watch this sort of thing unfold now, because it’s so bizarre, particularly among the men’s rights end of the spectrum since it’s all accessible online. And it’s true that there are some truly toxic people attracted toward it who can’t help but turn off nearly everybody else in the general public who find out about their past crimes and want no part in being affiliated with them. As in the case of those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent. I could never go for that, no way. Won’t stand side by side with and defend people who push for such selfish measures either. Cannot and will not. And their involvement alone is enough to taint an entire movement when people find out they’re present.
Hmmm… This story may bring more attention to AVfM and the MRM, but I do not think it will be the kind of attention they really want or need, at least not for those within their ranks who are more concerned with fairness under the Law and being granted equal access to their children during divorce proceedings.
And this is where I keep coming back to the idea that the men’s rights movement deserves better quality leadership and needs to critically assess what their priorities are and who and what they’re willing to defend here. Because not all concerns men might have are created equal, as should be obvious. Same holds true among women. As proves true with most movements, it looks like this is another case where those within wind up doing more harm to their own cause than the “enemies” they claim to be rivaling. It’s a matter they’re undoubtedly going to have to confront eventually.
Sage Gerard wrote a rebuttal on AVfM shortly after the GQ article came out.
[Updated the next day: For the record, I’m not swayed by what the journalists claimed about Sage. They really went over the top in trying to make him out as a creep, it seemed to me. Don’t know the guy personally obviously, but basing that on what I’ve picked up on from him online so far.]
March 2nd, 2015: Read a little more on this topic and came across these screenshots of the journalist Jeff Sharlet (viewable in the comment section of that post) that make it more clear what biases he was operating with.