Week 10 Day 2 Discussion Question 4

Paul Elam, founder of “A Voice for Men,” characterizes feminism not as a movement for women’s rights, but as a war on men. He writes:

In the men’s rights community… we have long lamented the cruel and destructive war that has been waged against men and boys for the past half century. We’ve shouted endlessly at a deaf world that we were on the path to destruction, and we have watched our predictions of men being reduced to indentured servants to a malicious matriarchy come true, even as society continues to dismiss and humiliate us for speaking. (Elam, quoted in Kimmel, 116-117)

In this statement (and in countless others), Elam emphasizes the persecution of men in an increasingly “gynocentric” — and “misandrist” — world.  Regarding this persecution narrative, Alice E. Marwick and Robyn Caplan write:

By saying “You’re not the victim, I’m the victim!” the MRA [men’s rights activist] . . . is able to adopt a defensible position as the suffering victim, turning feminist (or queer, or anti-racist) activism on its head and re-framing it as oppressive. This then justifies harassment as a defense mechanism to protect men against loathsome feminists out to oppress them. It is unsurprising that the MRM pioneered and engages in weaponized harassment, given the centrality of the victim narrative to their ideology. (Marwick and Caplan, 554)

Do you agree that the virulence of men’s rights activists’ attacks on feminists (and queer and anti-racist activists) can be explained by their feelings of victimhood or persecution?  Why or why not?


2 thoughts on “Week 10 Day 2 Discussion Question 4

  • April 20, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    I do believe that this statement is accurate. Paul Elam’s central message is that men only commit the wrongdoings they do because of the oppression they face from women. Elam and his “A Voice for Men” movement convey the feminist movement not as a progressive movement seeking gender quality, but rather as an attack on men and a shift to a misandrist world. Elam and his followers deflect the blame of their failures as fathers, husbands, etc. on women. Rather than provide support for these men who have made mistakes, Elam deploys a strategy to attack rather than make amends. It is easier for him to convince men that they were pressured into their actions, rather than have them take accountability for their actions. The AVFM movement is a for profit organization, so each follower that Elam gains means an increase to his bottom line. The virulence of men’s rights activists’ attacks on feminists stem from this deflection of guilt and responsibility, turned into anger that Elam preaches to his followers.

  • April 20, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    I think that men’s rights activists have contrived a false sense of victimhood in order to relieve themselves of the justified blame that they receive from other groups. As noted by Michael Kimmel, MRAs are almost always straight white men; this is because men of color and queer men must deal with real discrimination on a daily basis. These straight white men are unwilling to acknowledge their position at the top of the food chain and are eager to blame their personal failures on an American matriarchy that does not and will never exist.

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