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Adam McPhee responds to Paul Elam

I recently posted an article regarding CAFE which pivoted (but not solely) on a remark made by Adam McPhee at our International Conference on Men’s Issues. He wished to respond to this, which he did on his personal blog. I offered, and he accepted, to publish this here in the spirit of open dialog. It must be stressed that Adam is speaking here from his own personal perspective and not representing CAFE in his remarks. I will post and feature a response to this in the comments, and then hopefully we can move on in cooperation for the future of men and boys. PE

Paul Elam recently took me to task over comments I had made on a panel at AVFM’s first international conference on Men’s Issues.  Here is my response to his article:

Paul,

I could tell you were angry with what I had said on the panel when you pointed out that “someone” on the panel mentioned radicals, and then you denied their very existence.  If I had meant AVFM, I would not have sat on that panel. I have dealt with enough radicals from the other side; I wouldn’t deal with those I may consider radical on our side. Everyone I know in what we consider the MHRM, rightly deny participation of red-pillers, PUA’s, etc. However, the media does not, and there was a fair amount of media there.

It is ironic that you closed your rant by stating that the last thing the MHRM needs is an activist “Good Men Project”.  Someone from AVFM mentioned to me at the conference that you recently got raked over the coals in the comments section of an article on masculinists.  One of those comments levied the same accusation at AVFM:

“Is it necessary to condemn every fucking group in [the] manosphere? … it seems that inch by inch AVFM is moving towards becoming another GMP.”

My response was “good”. We should be told when people disagree with us. I despise an echo chamber, which is probably one of the biggest reasons that I am involved in getting men’s issues addressed. This is why I wholeheartedly endorse this article. If you dislike what I say, by all means, tell me. That applies to everyone in the men’s movement, not just Paul Elam. If you dislike or disagree with what someone is saying, especially those you consider to be leaders of the movement, tell them.  Let your voice be heard.

The comment that irked you was spoken while I was discussing a sub-reddit I enjoy occasionally engaging in, “feMRAdebates” where people of all perspectives discuss gender issues. I was adding to what Stefan Molyneux had said about “know thyself”.

Many in this movement see feminism, and thus feminists, as the enemy; I don’t see it in such black and white terms.  At the conference, I believe you yourself mentioned supporting what you call “good” feminists, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, or Camille Paglia. There are those who do discuss errors of feminism, and speak to men’s issues, and do so under the banner of feminism. Like Warren Farrell, I support anything that helps liberate people from staunchly held gender paradigms.

I was telling people to engage with those whose opinions differ from their own, and to learn from them. For those who are anti-feminist, consider it “knowing thy enemy”. For those who are just interested in men’s issues, then engage perspectives outside your preferred echo chamber. You won’t always agree with people, or be agreed with (am I right, Paul?), but you will be better for it.

You will also be helping those who have a poor understanding of what men’s issues are by giving them a better understanding of how men and boys are underscored, misunderstood, and underrepresented in the realm of gender discussions.  If you are good enough, you may even sway a few opinions. I even find that those who self-identify as “radicals” are occasionally worth talking to.

What I meant was to ignore those who are radical in their opinions.  You won’t get anywhere arguing with a troll who just hates men/women, or thinks all men/women’s issues are invalid.  If you do choose to engage with those kinds of radicals, remember that it is not them you are talking to, it is those who are listening or reading along.  Someone else on the panel mentioned the old adage of “if you argue with an idiot, they will just bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”  As such, keep the higher ground or ignore them.

As for radicals who picket men’s conferences in Detroit, or scream in your face at a discussion of men’s issues in Toronto, I agree with you; we do not have radicals in the MHRM in that sense.  What I liked best about your closing statement on the panel was when you said “if we did have radicals, we would cast them out”.  If you don’t think we have radicals, great.  If we ever get some, then yes, we should cast them out for their transgressions against the entire movement.

One of your writers, Andy Thomas (who also has an article on CAFÉ’s website), wrote a great article for AVFM a year ago titled “We are the radicals now”.  He asserts that feminist revolutionaries who think they are radical, are nothing of the sort.  He refers to himself as a radical, and says “We are not just radical, we are in every sense the most radical thinking movement in the history of human society.”  You deny the existence of radicals, and I certainly did not mean the type Andy wrote about anyway.  Perhaps we need to discuss what one another’s definitions of a “radical” are before you go chomping at the bit.

This is what will separate us from the feminist sphere.  When discussing their radicals, or those who are truly man-hating, they tend to claim that not all feminists are like that (NAFALT, to the uninitiated).  This is not denying their presence in feminism; it is notdecrying them as feminists; it is not saying that they reject their form of feminism.  It is saying yes, they are feminists, but we’re not all like that.  If they won’t cast them out and say they don’t accept them as feminists, then it is worse than the no true Scotsman fallacy.  They are not saying no true feminist would say/act like that, they are saying yep, that’s definitely an aspect of feminism!  If the radical feminists were an illness of feminism, they would be Tourettes, and we’re expected to ignore the occasional outburst of “rape apologizing scum” and “shut the fuck up!”

So yes, I support what you said in response.  We cannot be accepting of radicals or radical viewpoints, in the extreme sense of radical, if they pop up under the banner of the MHRM.  I support your calling me out on something you disagreed with.  However, I don’t support your trying to turn AVFM readers against someone who you simply disagree with, who also contributes to the recognition of men’s issues, because I did not mean them.  If I meant AVFM readers, and writers, I would have said that’s who I meant, and I would have given specific examples because I prefer to address people as individuals rather than guilty by association.

At this same event a CAFE representative proudly, publicly, and quite sneeringly scoffed at the idea of men’s “rights,” a shot I interpreted as a direct insult to those of us who actually believe men should have them.”

Does this sound like sneeringly scoffing to anyone else?  Sure sounds like someone saying men’s rights are human rights to me; someone in support of a men’s human rights movement.  For more people who use the perspective of a MHRM, you don’t even need to look outside your own walls.  He also said that is what we, CAFÉ, are.  If that displeases you, so be it.  I’m sorry if you don’t think men’s rights are simply human rights.

You say I should hold some resolve, have a fucking spine, and essentially not sit on the fence.  Sorry, but I prefer to have an open mind.  It’s the other side of the fence that is usually stuck in staunchly held world-views (Patriarchy! Patriarchy! Patriarchy!), and that’s what you want me to be like?  Pass.  That’s why I’m not over there.  Thank you for dissenting from my opinion and reminding me that we are allowed to challenge each other on this side.  Please continue to do so.  That is what I value about the men’s movement.

With all due respect, I would suggest you work harder at practicing what you preach, lest you come across as an overly defensive individual, more concerned with his personal ego gratification than with the ultimate goals of the MHRM.  Personally I’m disappointed you didn’t feel you could come and talk to me about my comment afterwards, wherein we could have had a discussion on what I meant by my comments and come to a better understanding.

Your light will not get any brighter by blowing out someone else’s candle.

“May I never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

***This was a personal response and does not reflect the views of The Canadian Association For Equality.

About Adam McPhee

Adam McPhee is an advocate for gender equity residing in Canada.

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  • Scatmaster

    and your name is?

  • Christopher Michael Moore

    On feminists: I see the movement as a danger, as it shows any neutral person it is not interested in solving society’s ills. As for individuals who identify as feminists, I take them as anyone else, without labels, looking only to their character.

    On style of presentation: I see that some of the tone on AVFM is not for me, at this time in my life and spiritual walk. On the other hand, I do believe their is a time for the expression of righteous anger of those wronged, as long as they do not use it as an excuse to wrong another, even an ideological enemy.

  • sé do bheatha a bhaile

    Chapin is going down and quite frankly it’s sad to watch. I’ve often thought he was the reason a men’s movement was needed, because when I see him I see a man rejected by society. I regard him with pity.

  • http://www.avoiceformen.com/ David King

    This might be apposite had there been no prior relationship (however tacit) between CAFE and AVfM. As it is, and as pointed out in Paul’s article to which Adam’s rebuttal is a reply, AVfM has been an enormous supporter of CAFE, up to and including financial.

  • Susie Parker

    I don’t know about who’s the better man but I don’t know Paul Elam to accept donations for supporting his cause, then not acknowledge or bother to thank his supporters. I’ve seen him personally thank donors for even the smallest contributions.

    Maybe an over sight – twice?

    If CAFE wants to be seen as the Good Men who walk the higher moral ground – maybe they shouldn’t have accepted hard earned donor contributions from Texas ruffians.

  • LostSailorNY

    In his “masculinist” post Paul said:

    The principles of inclusiveness, pragmatism, evidence based, non ideological solutions good — ideology, separatism, divisiveness, polemics, well, not so much.

    Well, inclusive except for “masculinist,” whatever they are. Or the “radicals,” whoever they are, in his CAFE post.

    In Adam’s response, he notes:

    Everyone I know in what we consider the MHRM, rightly deny participation of red-pillers, PUA’s, etc.

    This hardly sounds very pragmatic or inclusive. I’m definitely a “red-piller.” Does that mean I’m not welcome in the MHRM? Or just this site? I learned early on here that this is not the forum for discussing any “red-pill” concepts, and so I don’t. And when topics even tangential to that come up, I stay away from them, since I found disagreement there was not welcome.

    Adam continues the comment I quoted above thus:

    However, the media does not, and there was a fair amount of media there.

    And that is really the salient point. The media, firmly in the feminist camp, not only does not make a distinction between MHRM, PUAs, or anything else, lumping it all into the “manosphere.” And they have no desire to make any distinctions since it doesn’t serve their agenda. If it’s a cudgel they can use, they’ll use it. Truth or honesty doesn’t enter into it. On that side it’s all ideology first.

    But on this side, distinctions are also hard to come by. I say I’m a “red-piller,” and different people will automatically come to different definitions of what that means, most of them very far from what I consider it to mean. Some will automatically dismiss me. But does that mean I have nothing to contribute to the MRHM or even AVfM? Should I be shunned and cast out, “denied participation” because of what others think I think, because others refuse to listen to what I say or write and make assumptions based on a label?

    Paul and Adam both say they want inclusiveness and that they welcome debate and even disagreement, but it seems a bit mercurial and prone to ideological policing.

    I fully realize and acknowledge that many people involved with CAFE and AVfM have sacrificed a lot and have put livelihoods and reputations on the line. I also realize and acknowledge that for any movement to go from fringe to effective activism it needs to have not only a consistent message but the strength to pursue that message without backing off.

    But I’m also very aware that any movement that starts to self-police with purity tests where they “deny participation” based on perceived labels, and to side-track itself with internal disputes is not going to succeed.

    It seems a bit of a mixed message to interested men. The MHRM wants to be inclusive, unless one has ideas that are not acceptable. It also invites disagreement and debate, as long as it falls within undefined acceptable parameters.

    It doesn’t seem wise to deny participation to willing allies because you don’t agree with all their ideas. I don’t agree with everything written on this site or with all aspects of the emerging agenda, yet I will still support the MHRM and AVfM.

    Unless I’m not welcome…

  • Kevin Hornbuckle

    Check out babarossa’s new video, ‘On the next great male obsolescence.’ He stumbles upon the same realization that feminists are actually antiMarxists.

  • Borneonawind

    The world is not in Black and White. Don’t think that you’re the only individual intelligent enough to realize that, its common sense and is a given. But if a wrong has become ingrained into the system beyond a certain level, dilly-dallying and multi-faced agendas aren’t sufficient to bring about the desired change for it will not move people to take concrete and united action.

    When India was under British Rule, Mahatma Gandhi didn’t attempt to tell people to fight oppression at the same time extol the various good things the British Raj had brought upon us (and yes, speaking from a purely technical standpoint, there were some). That was what the moderatists of the congress did in the later half of the nineteenth century, with meetings and dialogues and all. All they managed to achieve was another half-century of even worse tyranny for their own people. Gandhi called outright for “Quit India”, and eventually the entirety of India united to make just that happen.

    Now the point of the above example isn’t to equate the MRM and its leaders with Gandhi and India’s freedom struggle. The point is, that if you want real socio-political change, you need to take a firm stand. It would be different if only a marginalized sect of feminists were promoting the Misandry. But its the Majority. So people, no compromises.

  • McLargehuge510

    I don’t think Paul was putting out a ‘gross distortion of reality,’ but claiming that CAFE needs to be more aggressive, and not just take shit. My original opinion was also that I didn’t like the ragging on Adam McPhee personally for what I thought was a clear misunderstanding. Throwing a tantrum about who is smarter and/or better at writing, which is VERY debatable mind you, is ridiculous and doesn’t get anyone anywhere. To say CAFE has made commendable progress in men’s issues any more than AVFM has is up for debate. Personally i didn’t mind CAFE’s more dignified approach, regardless of whether I think it is the right way.

    It is interesting that you note they have a positive reception in Canada, which I can’t speak to. I don’t see how you could argue that any purely men’s human rights group gets as much of the respect you claim CAFE gets. If anything, you could extrapolate that CAFE isn’t spreading men’s equality well enough. You could say that is indicative of how easily Canadian culture can ignore their stance on men’s issues. Not sure if I believe that yet, but it is just as logical a perspective to think CAFE would need to push men’s rights issues harder to get them heard in a culture that would rather cover their ears.

    To the contrary, if they were that “well respected,” their track record of being banished from all sorts of civil rights arenas doesn’t support that. I think each CAFE blockade is useful evidence of a hateful society, but I don’t want that to eventually make them disappear from relevance and dissolve. After reading the articles on CAFE being kicked out of the Pride event, I started to wish more that it would be a “last straw” kind of catalyst to spark a more aggressive stance on men’s issues.

    Despite how you may feel, AVFM and CAFE are in the same boat if you ask me. I don’t think they are respected enough to be heard in the popular media despite their legitimate causes. Eventually CAFE too will have to demand that respect. AVFM is far from being respected in the news media, but you can’t say they are softening their stance because of it, and I think AVFM might be able to help CAFE in this regard. So starting a flame war between the two is the last thing I’d want to see.