A Voice for Men: harassing and abusing those who defend women
Last week I published a piece on Online Opinion about the epidemic of men’s violence against women. I argued that news outlets tend to obscure the gendered nature of domestic violence and urged media to clearly state the sex of perpetrators of violence against women. We cannot fight what we cannot name.
This week, Online Opinion published a response by Adam Blanch, who describes himself as “a passionate advocate for men’s rights and men’s empowerment” (he’s also, apparently, a “spiritual counsellor”), His arguments, which were consistent with the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) anti-woman agenda, can be summed up below:
• It is prejudiced to state it is primarily men who are perpetrators of violence against women.
• Violence against women is not particularly prevalent.
• Gender is not a relevant contributing factor to violence, and women are more violent than men anyway.
• Feminists profit from domestic violence programs [“feminism’s river of gold”] that “fund feminism”.
These standard arguments from the MRM are in direct opposition to statistics from the World Health Organisation, that cite violence against women as a “major public health problem”, with 35% of women worldwide experiencing either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
White Ribbon Foundation statistics similarly state that one in three Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Violence is also the biggest cause of injury or death for women between 18 and 45.
Women activists know it is no surprise to see Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) denying the frequency of men’s violence against women, inflating rates of false allegations and claiming to be oppressed victims.
A Facebook group with links to MRA group ‘A Voice For Men’ has been formed for the purpose of harassing and abusing Collective Shout members in Townsville. These are a couple of comments from their hate page directed against women who led a protest against Hooters restaurant chain opening in their city.
The harassment and abuse has become so unrelenting and virulent -even male supporters are mocked as ‘manginas’ – our Collective Shout team in Townsville was forced this week to change their Facebook page to ‘private’.
MRA groups are open about their contempt for women. ‘A Voice For Men’ founder, Paul Elam, had this to say about why women get raped:
“I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks, playing on their sexual desires … And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m.. Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.
But are these women asking to get raped?
In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.
They are freaking begging for it.
Damn near demanding it.
And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”
Paul Elam also encouraged his followers to “bash a bitch”.
“In the name of equality and fairness, I am proclaiming October to be Bash a Violent Bitch Month.
I’d like to make it the objective for the remainder of this month, and all the Octobers that follow, for men who are being attacked and physically abused by women – to beat the living shit out of them. I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.
And then make them clean up the mess. …
Now, am I serious about this?
No. Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong. Every one should have the right to defend themselves…
But it isn’t worth the time behind bars or the abuse of anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.”
Paul Elam further revealed his hatred for women when he said:
“Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.”
Greg Canning, representative of ‘A Voice For Men’ in Australia, received media attention after he resigned from his position at James Cook University in 2012. Canning had accused Adjunct Associate Professor Betty McLellan of “publically sexually vilifying men” for her critical analysis of men’s violence against women. When the university refused to act on his complaint, he quit.
The Herald Sun article included a response from Professor McLellan. ‘Dr McLellan said it was ridiculous to suggest she supported violence against men, or vilified them. “I don’t support violence from anybody to anybody: men, women, anybody,” she said. “How am I vilifying anybody, really?” She believed Dr Canning was going over the top by resigning from his teaching position.
‘”It speaks of a man, really, who is fairly desperate because he’s not getting his own way,” she said. “He’s not able to silence a woman who has an opinion.”’
As prominent US feminist Andrea Dworkin (now departed) famously stated, “Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.”
One of the commenters has provided some more information about AVfM and their habit of cyber-bullying and stalking women who publically critique men’s violence.
When a certain feminist blogger wrote about receiving rape and death threats, Paul Elam responded:
“No matter what you do, you are going to see a lot more of the things you don’t like in the future. I don’t mean that in the way of violent threats and continued fixation on your rectum, but in much more organized, high impact consequences for those of your ilk, courtesy of the men’s movement. Simply put, we are coming for you. All of you. And by the time we are done you will wax nostalgic over the days when all you had to deal with was someone expressing a desire to fuck you up your shopworn ass.”
Paul Elam offers $1000 cash rewards for men to cyberstalk anonymous feminist activists and find their real identities to post online. Dr Greg Canning has also offered to donate money for this purpose.
The following are comments taken from an AVfM forum detailing their plans to punish women who speak about men’s violence:
“The FBI has been contacted, and your publisher has been contacted. Get ready to live a life of misery, you worthless Irish slut.”
“We will NEVER let you escape. You are now on THE LIST.”
STU: “We should limit our activism in regards to them, to advertising their misandry for all to see, recording it….and outing as many as we can so they are forced to answer for it to their employers, any male relatives….and even the local shopkeeper. In other words, don’t bother trying to change them…….just make them pay.”
MANFROMMAN: “At any rate, I submit my pledge herein to support the attempt to expose these tart-brain bitches. Let us all FTSU!”
ALEKNOVY: “If it turns out she has children, she should also be reported to CPS.”
PAUL ELAM: “She is a disease that must be extirpated…Nothing she can do will help her now. It’s too late for forgiveness or mercy. The grinding wheels are in motion.”
ZENCO: “We’re coming for you honey. We will march forward on a road of your bones to victory.”
Australia is in the midst of a public health crisis. Men’s violence against women and children has reached epidemic proportions. It manifests in rape, battering, abuse and even murder.
White Ribbon statistics indicate that up to one in three women will be a victim of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. In 2012 Victoria Police Commissioner Ken Lay revealed that officers respond to domestic violence calls every ten minutes.
A woman is murdered by a current or former partner in Australia every week. Domestic Violence NSW has made an impassioned plea via a petition to Prime Minister Tony Abbott “to recognise domestic and family violence as a national emergency” and take action.
Despite the prevalence of men’s violence against women, there is little if any discussion about why some men beat, rape, abuse and murder them. Instead, the national dialogue surrounding the issue shifts attention from male perpetrators and onto female victims.
We ask, ‘Why don’t they leave?’ instead of ‘Why do some men kill women?’ In focusing on the behavior of victims rather than male perpetrators, the burden of responsibility for men’s violence- and for stopping it- is placed on women.
The language commonly used to describe male violence is itself watered down- named domestic violence, family violence- terms that fail to identify the gendered nature of this violence. This glosses over the reality that perpetrators are overwhelmingly men and victims primarily women and children. Read more
My past commentary on Olympia Nelson’s image, Art Monthly and Bill Henson
I appeared briefly on Australian story last night in a piece about Olympia Nelson, inspired by her significant piece on the rise of the selfie, ‘Dark undercurrents of teenage girls selfies’, published in The Sydney Morning Herald, July 11, 2003, and reprinted here.
Because a much longer interview was cut (as is often the case – I’m not complaining, it’s the nature of media and having ones opinions quoted anywhere is a privilege), some of my thinking on the issue of sexualisation, sexuality, selfies, and the debate around the depiction of children in art, was not included. I wanted to put on the record views expressed earlier, for a more complete picture. I’d like to say straight up that I find Polexini Papapetrou’s art quite beautiful and evocative. And it wasn’t Olympia’s naked image in and of itself that was the main problem for myself and my colleagues (we don’t have an issue with nudity per se). There is an important context that needs to be considered.
The publishing of the naked image of then six-year-old Olympia Nelson on the cover of Art Monthly in July 2008 was in protest against the response to Bill Henson’s naked artwork of children, particularly an image of a young topless girl with budding breasts featuring in a promotional invitation to his latest exhibition. I commented on Henson’s work here (photos redacted but can be viewed here).
Henson’s sexualised depictions of young girls: calling it art doesn’t make it OK
I haven’t seen the latest photographs by artist Bill Henson to go on show at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne.
But I have seen these.
So I know what Henson is capable of and how he likes to depicts and shoot young girls.
The girl (image to the right) who featured naked on the invite to the Roslyn Oxley gallery was 13. While that photo was widely circulated, an even more graphic one of another girl (image to the left) was not. She is ‘Untitled 1985/86’, quietly auctioned by Menzies Art Brands, Lot 214, for $3800, only weeks after the original Henson controversy.
And when Tolarno Galleries refuses to reveal the age of the youngest naked girl in the new exhibition, you have to suspect there is a problem. Why the secrecy? Was she at an age where she could consent? As respected teen psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg put it when I asked his view, would she “have sufficient cognitive or emotional maturity to fully comprehend the potential ramifications of what she is doing?”
Where will her photo end up? Where did the photos of the other two girls above end up?
Why does calling it “art” make sexualised depictions of young girls OK?
It is right to question Henson’s sexual depictions of vulnerable naked young girls – and other overtly sexualised imagery of children – a point I made on Channel 7’s Morning Show last Thursday. Media academic and researcher Nina Funnell also reveals here that Henson’s images have been found in the collections of paedophilies. (video no longer available)
This is my letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, July 10, 2008, on the placement of Olympia’s image in a magazine featuring images of extreme porn-themed torture, including schoolgirl torture. It was publishing her image in this context that added a new and very problematic layer, not commented on at all in the debate at the time, apart from the observations I made here. Dismissing these concerns as a ‘moral panic’ is just too easy and too convenient.
Art is about “giving people dignity”, the critic Robert Nelson told ABC radio this week. “We’ve got to have faith in art,” he said. Nelson is the father of Olympia, whose naked photos appear in Art Monthly Australia’s latest issue. The photos were taken in 2003 by her mother, when the girl was six.
While flicking through Art Monthly, I wondered whether Mr Nelson had looked at the magazine that featured his daughter before he gave us his thoughts on art and human dignity.
Call me particular, but I don’t find images of semi-naked, bound women with protruding sex organs all that dignified. I looked really hard, but I couldn’t see much dignity in the photograph of a Japanese schoolgirl trussed in rope and suspended with her skirt raised to reveal her underwear. Torture porn just doesn’t stir my soul.
Some of Bill Henson’s images are there, of course (this issue was a “protest” in defence of his work). They are followed by selections from the work of Nobuyoshi Araki, probably best known for his passion for taking photos of girls and women exposed and bound.
There’s his slumped, bound schoolgirl picture and an image of a woman with her clothing stripped back, the ropes squeezing her naked breasts and contorting her into a pose that displays her genitals. A third uplifting work depicts a woman on the ground, strained forward, her naked spreading backside to the camera.
Faith in art?
A little further into the magazine you come upon the work of David Laity. What offering of truth and beauty does Laity give us? An image of a woman being bound with the tentacles of an octopus as it performs oral sex on her. That’s some dignified octopus. Then there’s an image of a woman bending over so we can see her … Well, you get the picture.
The photographs of Olympia need to be viewed in the context of the images positioned around her. On their own, the images that show Olympia reclining naked, her pose and look more that of an adult, can be seen as sexualised. But surrounding her with these other images superimposes a further, more sinister, meaning on them.
The former Democrats senator Lyn Allison told Sunrise the controversy was just about little girls playing dress-ups. But don’t dress-ups usually involve putting clothes on, not taking them off? And does this game usually end with your photo published in a gallery of female genitals?
The magazine’s editor said he wanted to “restore dignity to the debate”. Does he really think he’s achieved that?
Artists who recognise there should be ethical constraints to art; artists who don’t think it advances humanity to tie up naked girls and capture their images. Now that would be dignified.
The SMH letter was expanded into a piece for Online Opinion published July 18, 2008. While Robert Nelson criticised myself and my colleagues on twitter this week claiming we read the image of his daughter inappropriately, see how he himself has described some of his child’s photographs.
…Of course it’s not about dress-ups. Even Robert Nelson doesn’t think that.
In fact, (as Andrew Bolt uncovered) in the year 2000 Robert Nelson had described one of the photographs as part of an exploration of his daughter’s “eroticism”. Even her sucking a dummy as a four-year-old, was, said Nelson “potentially the most diabolically sexual” image, a symbol of “the perversity of pleasure-sucking’’.
Critics of the Polixeni Papapetrou images have been criticised for reading too much into them. Yet Nelson himself renders the child in sexualised ways.
Nelson once described Henson’s work as displaying a “vulgar relish in depicting naked, pouting teenagers” in a “teasing sexual spectacle” to present them as a “passive target for the viewer’s lust”. He wrote, “Henson’s interest in juvenile erotica … is an aesthetic of spying, granting you an illicit glimpse, as in all pornographic genres … Henson’s grope in the gloaming has unpleasant moral overtones, as when the participants are too young for sex’’.
So why give photographs of your daughter to a magazine whose raison d’être was a defence of Henson? It is hard to understand.
The magazine’s editor Maurice O’Riordan said he had wanted to “restore dignity to the debate”. Does he really think he’s achieved that by throwing Olympia in with tied up school girls, women who have been rendered completely powerless…
Now and then I stumble on a brave man passionate about the issues taken up here on the MTR blog.
Recently I’ve made the acquaintance of Matthew Holloway. Only 26, Matthew’s written some compelling pieces in recent months on pornography, prostitution and rape-permission giving in men’s magazines. I thought you should get to know him too and in doing so be encouraged that more men seem to be willing to risk criticism and step up to the plate on these issues.
Matthew Holloway is a freelance writer and social justice advocate from Tasmania, where he stood for state and federal parliament and co-founded Tasmanians for Transparency. Matthew now lives in Melbourne where he works as a Counsellor in Aboriginal Health. I asked Matthew what motivated him to engage on these issues. He responded:
To be honest I have had a broad upbringing which included exposure to many of the feminist writings from the old school, specifically Andrea Dworkin.
On a personal level ‘not myself’ but males I have known, I have seen how destructive things like pornography can be and the conflict this can cause for many men. The way it can change their perceptions, the way that their thinking can become so warped, but also the way that their sexual urges have become so perverted that they have also become victims of a society which has normalized the material which has created these attitudes including the sexualisation and commodification of not only women but children.
For a brief period on moving to Victoria I worked for a councillor on Yarra City Council, Stephen Jolly, who worked hard uncovering trafficking in the area.
Aside from this I worked for a few years as a social worker on Grey Street in St Kilda. My client group included sex workers both male and female. I heard the stories of abuse, the way that every one of them felt they had no other options, the way they felt worthless and without skills. The other truly sad aspect was hearing how many had suffered abuse. In so many ways these people had become conditioned to using sex for survival. To hear how many had also suffered physical, verbal and sexual abuse through their work was also tragic and heart breaking.
So although I know that there are many people out there who say that people like you and I have no idea about why people go into sex work. I honestly think they are defenders if the industry and have no idea of the continued psychological damage that the sex industry and those who support it, continue to inflict on people who are truly vulnerable and at risk. Also people who through life circumstances cannot see other options let alone a pathway out of the use and abuse.
Here’s a lengthy, detailed and evidence-based piece Matthew wrote for the Tasmanian Times on the true nature of the prostitution industry.
Working against the global sex industry
…Unfortunately evidence seems to show that legalisation still has many inherent safety risks and has often become an issue of governments wanting to derive profits from the sexual degradation and exploitation of some of society’s most vulnerable people. It should be noted that I am not the only one who is saying that the government is keen to get a slice of the sex industry pie. This claim is even made by the Eros foundation who stated that the sex industry has a combined turnover of over $1 billion and that government agencies were looking at ways to levy a slice of this revenue….
The issue of prostitution and the problems it raises have been addressed by many of the great feminists of our time; Germaine Greer once famously stated “Pornography is simply the advertising of prostitution” and this holds to the fact that there are many problems in our hyper sexualised culture which have promoted the expansion of sexual slavery. Prostitution is still a capitalistic and patriarchal structure and always will be, no matter how much Mr Cox tries to argue against the fact; women are always enslaved to sex work because of male demand for it. This is a key point which the Swedish model recognises and this is the reason for its success…Read full article here
And here’s strong piece on porn and exploitation – including of men – Matthew had published in Eureka Street:
Germaine Greer and Gay Exploitation
It is commonly thought that men represent the main producers and the main consumers of pornography. But earlier this year feminist firebrand Germaine Greer alluded to an important and often forgotten fact: men are also its victims.
‘Pornography’, Greer said on a September episode of ABC1′s Q&A, ‘also exploits boys, men and children, but most of all, it exploits the consumer of pornography.
‘The consumer’, she said, ‘doesn’t realise that because of the stage in your life at which you become aware of pornography, that his sexual responses are being altered by pornography, so that he is expecting a certain kind of mechanical sequence of events, which he’s learnt to manipulate in his own self-gratification. This then gets parked on a relationship, which prevents real intimacy from ever ensuing.
‘That’s pretty grim but it’s much grimmer, the fact that people are moving towards each other in a series of pre-programmed responses.’
Like women, men have fallen prey to the unrealistic expectations of a hyper-sexualised culture….
All elements lead to what Greer described as pornography’s ability to promote the acting out of pre-programmed responses devoid of intimacy. Ultimately we need a movement away from porn, and to re-assert a sexuality that is not based on images of actors from a specifically geared, targeted and manipulative industry.
For years the pro-porn lobby has tried to win the argument and take the ground from the left and right by portraying them as either censorship fascists or religious conservatives. The truth is that you cannot have exploitation in the name of liberalism. Read full article here
And this one in Online Opinion last year on a British study on men’s magazines and rape apologism.
Re-assessing men’s magazines
A new study to be published in the British journal of Psychology is set to have massive ramifications and has already kick started a re-assessment of soft core pornography.
The study by Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey, showed participants quotes from men’s magazines such as FHM, Loaded, and Zoo.
The participants were also shown quotes from convicted sex offenders which were taken from ‘The Rapist Files: Interviews with Convicted Rapists written by Sussman & Bordwell
Participants were not informed which source the quotes came from, they were asked to assess for themselves based on the content.
Most participants were unable to distinguish the source of the quotes; the study also revealed that most male participants identified more strongly with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
Dr Miranda Horvath from Middlesex University said: “We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.”
The study has already had an impact in the UK where retailers have agreed to move all men’s magazines to top shelves and censor front covers.Read full article here.
That’s just a sample. There’s lots more of Matthew’s work online. Have a look. And men, why not join Matthew and add your voices to his?
Kyle Sandilands has received a trouncing over the last few days for being rude and offensive. But criticisms of his behaviour on the grounds of offensiveness miss the mark in regard to the latest incident involving him and his chef de claque. Sandilands certainly takes delight in trying to give offence, although when called out, he excuses himself by saying that he is just doin’ what comes naturally. But giving offence is not the same as practising discrimination, and that is what should be the focus in the current controversy.
Various corporations have withdrawn their advertising from Sandilands’ program on 2Day FM. This is likely to have the same effect as the last time they withdrew their advertising in 2009. At that time, Sandilands was taken off air by the umbrella company Austereo, which announced that it was conducting ‘a review of the principals [sic] and protocols of our interaction with our audience’. Review concluded, Sandilands and Jackie O simply picked up where they had left off, and the advertisers returned.
Along with his old tricks, Sandilands resumed making his tired old excuses. In response to criticism of his recent intimidation of Alison Stephenson, for example, Sandilands fell back on the well-worn cliché with which many Australians defend or excuse racist and sexist behaviour.Read more
Last week I exposed the fact that Woolworths was in bed with Lynx in a promotion based on female servitude and sexual objectification.
Today Woolworths has announced they’ve broken up.
Here’s a letter the grocery corporation sent Collective Shout supporter Jade today:
“Thank you for your email to Woolworths concerning the recent Lynx Lodge marketing campaign. A number of customers have contacted us and expressed their concern about Woolworths’ involvement in this promotion which was primarily focused on an associated competition to win dirt bikes.
We have reviewed this activity and agree that the nature of the overall Lynx Lodge promotion is not in keeping with Woolworths’ values as a company. As a result we have spoken to the manufacturer and taken steps to remove the association between the Woolworths brand and the Lynx Lodge promotion. We sincerely apologise for any offence caused.
We are pleased Woolworths has responded to community concern including from customers and shareholders. We also hope they won’t make the same mistake again.
But Lynx Still Stynx
Woolies might have done the right thing. But Lynx still stinks. That’s why we’ve launched our new Lynx advertising parody on You Tube today. Please watch it and share!
Unilever Stynx Too
Parent-company Unilever continues to justify its anti-women behaviour with patronising and condescending cut-and-paste responses to the many who have complained.
Kath at Fat Heffalump has had enough of the P.R spin. She takes apart Unilever’s response here.
Well, well, well. I got a response from Unilever regarding my complaint to them about their Lynx Lodge campaign. Brace yourselves for some of the worst correspondence to a customer complaint that you are likely to see: Read the entire post here.
Unilever’s new product to ‘wash away the skank’
Ms Magazine exposes a new Axe body wash called Snake Peel, to ‘wash away the skank’. Lynx is the equivalent of Axe, which is the US brand name.
“I noticed a website address scribbled on the body of the man in the third storyboard. So I visited www.thefixers.com and found The Fixer Show, a faux-talk show made by Axe and dedicated, apparently, to advice for men. Each of The Fixer’s five segments corresponds to a new Axe body wash. In the Snake Peel segment, I learned that “questionable hookups” whom you might wish to “scrub away” include: “the geriatric, the bedridden, the lazy eye, the girl that has way more muscles than you, which is sexy only until she has you pinned down and she’s asking you to call her Frank …” And more! For three minutes! Thanks, Axe. You sure know how to make a girl feel special”.
That’s right, a man can use this Axe body wash to rid himself of any traces of sex with women who are sick and disabled (and skanks as well, apparently). Because who could possibly find these women attractive? They must be erased from the body and mind. I’d like to know what disability rights groups think of Unilever’s degrading and demoralising depictions.
Collective Shout has had three wins in less than a week. It shows what’s possible when individuals speak out. If you haven’t done so already, please join Collective Shout and we will see even greater things. Also find us on Facebook.
Bratz dolls have undergone a makeover. Apparently they are more ‘demurely’ dressed and have less makeup. While the dolls may be marginally less skankified in appearance (and it really is marginal), the values they project remain the same. As shown on the company’s website, the Bratz dolls are still presented as hot, thin and sassy, they like to “strut” and have a “passion for fashion” including 5-inch feet-crippling stiletto heels. They still convey a message to girls that their value is in their physical appearance, ability to attract (male) attention and buy into commercialised ideals about beauty and fashion. Here’s what I said about the so-called new-look Bratz on Channel 7’s Morning Show earlier this week.
Lovable: debate about company’s unlovable body image behaviour continues
My original blog post about Lovable , examining its claims to want to change the culture on body image while running a new ad campaign featuring ‘hot’ Jennifer Hawkins, continues to get airplay elsewhere. It got a run onOn Line Opinion yesterday.
Everybody’s Lovable, especially if thin, sexy and covered in icecream
According to its website, Australian underwear brand Lovable says it is “dedicated to changing the culture surrounding eating disorders and body image”. It does this “by using happy, healthy models in our campaigns and promotional activities and by continuing to design intimates that are not created to objectify women’s bodies …”
I’m sorry, but I’m a bit confused.
Because I don’t understand how you change the culture with advertising like this..
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