Until recently, an online community of anti-feminist men (and a couple of women) who consider themselves “men’s rights activists” were content to perform most of their “activism” by complaining about women online and overwhelming the comment sections of any feminist website, rendering them virtually unusable for people who actually want to discuss feminism. But under the direction of Paul Elam for the site A Voice For Men, they’ve upped their game a bit in the past few months, holding a small conference to complain about how men are victimized by feminism and, of course, egging on Gamergate.
But now Elam and his crew at A Voice For Men have done something that’s outright shocking in its ugliness. It seems they’re trying to undermine a Canadian anti-domestic violence organization, the White Ribbon Campaign, by setting up a copycat website that’s clearly aimed at bamboozling people searching for the White Ribbon Campaign. The real White Ribbon Campaign is at whiteribbon.ca, where you can find information about preventing domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as order materials and hire speakers for community efforts.
Elam, however, purchased the URL whiteribbon.org and created a website with a similar aesthetic and the tagline “End Violence Against Everyone.” The clear hope here is to divert traffic and hopefully funds away from the White Ribbon Campaign, straight into the pockets of “men’s rights activists.”
On the website, you can read a bunch of articles pushing the claim that female violence against men is just as bad a problem—if not worse—than male violence against women. (This is a common claim used to deflect attention away from the realities of domestic violence, but it’s simply not true by any reasonable measure.) For instance, the site makes excuses for Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice: “So Ray Rice was not guilty of beating up on a completely defenseless woman,” because she “was not some cowering woman in the corner covering her face with her arms.”
Another article describes domestic violence as a mutual behavior, almost a form of foreplay: “It’s impulse, reckless dysfunction that as many times as not has the two people in the bedroom enjoying make up sex not long after it is over, and then building the tension between them till it happens again.”
The White Ribbon Campaign has responded by issuing a lengthy statement. Here is an excerpt:
Their misguided attempts to discredit others only make clear the extent to which they see the success of our equality-driven, evidence-based, ally-focussed work on gender justice as a real threat to their ill-informed, isolated views on this issue. This latest example is clear evidence of their insincerity and lack of commitment to developing compassionate solutions for the issues they claim to care about. It also showcases their real focus: attacking, harassing and directing anger towards others.
Blogger David Futrelle discovered this website and a couple of other sites have picked up the story; Paul Elam is furious. He responded to his critics at A Voice For Men by saying, “Go right straight to Hell, you gang of bigoted, lying scumbags. That is, if Hell will even have you pieces of shit.” He also justified trying to trick people by pointing out that “White Ribbon Campaign is not trademarked by anyone. Deal with it.”
The White Ribbon Campaign says they are “exploring all of our options” but that they “will not be engaging with this group in a public screaming match.”