MRAs: The way to defeat feminism is not through debate but by “inflicting … pain” on feminists.

Men's Rights "Activism"

What can you do when you realize that you’re losing the war of ideas? You can rethink some or all of your ideas, seriously considering the unnerving possibility that you might be, well, wrong. You can reconsider how you present your ideas.

Or you can give up on ideas entirely, and attempt to pressure or harass or even terrorize others into some form of surrender. That’s what the the uber-radical Weathermen did in the 1960s and 70s, turning first to violent direct action in the aptly named “days of rage” and then to bombs when the revolution that many in the New Left had been prophesying failed to materialize. That’s what the anti-abortion movement has been doing for decades now, with some in the movement harassing women trying to get abortions while more radical antis bomb clinics and kill doctors. .

And now we’re seeing rhetoric from Men’s Rights Activists that suggests some in that movement may also be giving up on talk. Consider A Voice for Men’s Paul Elam, who declared in a fundraising letter a couple of months back that:

Progress for men will not be gained by debate, reason or typical channels of grievance available to segments of the population that the world actually gives a damn about. The progress we need will only be realized by inflicting enough pain on the agents of hate, in public view, that it literally shocks society out of its current coma.

Elam is – presumably deliberately — vague about what exactly he means when he talks about “inflicting … pain,” and as far as I know he has never explicitly endorsed violence. But he has spoken openly about “stalking” individual feminists and otherwise “fucking their shit up” by, among other things, posting personal information about them on the AVfM-sponsored site for all would be vigilantes to see. And in the “activism” section of his website he has reprinted a manifesto explicitly calling for the firebombing of courthouses and police stations.

Elam isn’t the only MRA who has officially given up on “debate and reason” in favor of “inflicting … pain” on feminists. The “counter-feminist” wannabe philosopher who calls himself Fidelbogen makes a similar argument in a recent post on his blog:

Feminism is your enemy, and the obligation to treat feminists as fellow human beings is officially waived. They are not fellow human beings, they are ALIENS.

Dehumanizing the enemy always a good start.

[L]et’s not hear any crap about so-called “hate speech”. You see, there is simply no way that you can resist evil, denounce tyranny, or call pernicious things by their right names, without crossing a fine line into “hate speech” or something very like it. Extremism against a bully is no vice, and since bullies have their own moral economy, you are entitled to pay them in their own coin.

It’s not hate speech if you really do hate them?

The important thing to understand about the feminists is, that they will not change their outward behavior unless social heat and pressure are inflicted upon them.

Fidelbogen, a sometime contributor to A Voice for Men, is also vague about what exactly he means by this “social heat and pressure.” He continues:

What, do you think they will stop what they are doing just because somebody intellectually convinces them they are mistaken? They will do no such thing, because they are people with an agenda who know they are “right”, and they lack the gift to see themselves as the rest of the world sees them.


Over on Reddit, meanwhile, the charming JeremiahMRA – who used to post comments here as Things Are Bad – thinks the “inflict pain” policy should be extended to all women, any time they engage in “bad behavior.” Responding to a poster asking how to handle a disagreement with his mother, he explained his theory in (sometimes redundant) detail, receiving several dozen net upvotes for his post:

The ONLY way you change women’s bad behavior is by punishing them if they won’t start acting like adults. …

The only way you change a woman’s bad behavior is by making sure they know it hurts them. …

Reasoning with her will not work. The only answer is to use the power he has as her SON to threaten to hurt her emotionally. Women are emotional creatures. Nothing else will work. This is what it means to be a man: you do what you have to do so that things will be better in the end, even if you don’t like it. …

It isn’t about convincing her what’s right, it’s about showing her she will suffer if she doesn’t do what’s right. That is the only thing that will work.

The Men’s Rights Movement likes to pretend that is it a civil rights movement. But threats, harassment, hate speech, and emotional blackmail aren’t the tactics of a legitimate civil rights movement. These are the tactics of angry narcissists clinging to retrograde prejudices, who have given up on the war of ideas because on some level they know that history is against them, and that they will never win.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on March 4, 2012, in a voice for men, antifeminism, bullying, hypocrisy, irony alert, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, paul elam, reactionary bullshit, terrorism, threats. Bookmark the permalink. 454 Comments.

  1. Crumbelievable


    I just read a series of Jezebel comments from her, and almost every time, she pops by to say ‘Maybe this rape victim was making it up’. That seems to be her shtick.

  2. TIL from Roberta:

    – asking two times is the feminist definition of attempted rape, just look it up in the Feminist’s Dictionary
    – that she just happens to disagree with one or two things and these crazy people who make up words and want to lock men up for asking for sex more than once just started piling on her so unfairly and what is wrong with these EVAL ZEALOTS omfg

  3. Roberta was a really boring troll.

    Maybe she’s “Ashley?”

  4. No, Ashley would have bragged about her sex life and justified filming sex without a partner’s consent.

  5. True. 🙂

    It was the way the goalposts were sprinting from one position to another that turned my thoughts in that direction.

  6. Wait, Lauralot, isn’t that the kind of thing that Brandon usually…


  7. Shucks, guys! Play a little Monkey Island, miss new Ms. Troll’s flounce😦.

    Then again, I also missed this:

    Wow, someone’s off their meds.

    which is probably good, because I don’t have the energy to respond to anymore of… that. Today. Thank goodness for all of you.

  8. Play a little Monkey Island

    WHAT!! You just became like 500 times more awesome in my eyes!!

  9. Aww, now, Shadow, I thought you already thought I was awesome! Now I’m heartbroken!😉

  10. Oh I did!! But 500 times more now, at least!!

  11. Words are illusions built by human irrationality, just like free will.

    REAL intellectuals communicate by farting, and live their lives according to a line of red chalk on the sidewalk. THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT HAS BEGUN!


    Ok, really, if Roberta believes that… (not my obvious exaggeration, but, you know) she’s not only a horrible lawyer, she has read too much into her philosophy textbook.

    …wait, she’s also a cop? IS SHE JUDGE DREAD?!

  12. @Shadow, aww *blush*

    Pretty much my favourite game series ever! I’m not much of a gamer, but I have a soft spot for point-and-click adventure games. They remind me of being wee.

    I’m replaying through the episodic Tales of Monkey Island series that Telltale Games did. A lot of people say they’re not as good as the original game and the sequel, and I agree, but they bring the feeling of those games in a way that the other later installments in the franchise didn’t (I felt the fourth game, in particular, was pretty lazy).

    I really like Telltale in general. I had a fantastic time playing their Back to the Future game, which I would recommend to anyone who is a) a fan of the movies and b) not a very serious gamer, since the puzzles are definitely on the easier side. Perfect for me! Plus, the Michael J. Fox impression by the guy they brought in for the voice work is uncanny.

    /off-topic nerrrrrrrdery

  13. What I have learned from this thread is that I invented the term ableism, apparently.

  14. @Lauralot Good on you! Someone had to… (<<Normal 3 dot feminist ellipsis that I am pointing out because I am not sure if you can see it.)

  15. SO I just read several hundred of the most recent comments and it’s all a bit blurry to me now. Did our new friend Roberta ever provide a citation that actually backed up any of her claims?

    There was that one court case she kept getting the name of wrong,and it didn’t seem to back up her points, and that one blog post she linked to, but without pointing to a specific part of it that backed up her claims.

    Oh, and then she said the magic words “Dworkin” and “MacKinnon.”

    Other than that it seemed like a lot of huffing and puffing and deliberate misconstruing of what people here were saying to her.

    My head hurts.

  16. What I learned is that, if you take medication, your opinions are invalid.

  17. Hi, Roberta, or Ben, whatever, yeah, the crime of rape is a complicated thing, and the law is a gross instrument. The thing is, of course, rape is much more than a crime. It’s a soul-sucker, a permanent body-injurer, a war-tool, a shamer, an oppression of half of humanity, a child-abuse-tool.. the standard of proof in a criminal case is only a small part of the rape discussion…I’ve seen some other things you’ve written and approve, so I’m glad you’re here. People need time to figure out where others are coming from…your writing on MRAs is pretty cool…

  18. @red_locker

    REAL intellectuals communicate by farting

    To which I present this:

    (which I’m sure if furthur evidence for my theory that farts are the universal humour).

  19. Awww did my fart comment get nommed by the mod queue ’cause of the link? That’s sad, ’cause it was *epic*.


  20. @Katz: And if you object to the opinion that medication use makes your ideas invalid, you’re cultivating offense!

  21. @Lauralot

    You’ve done a wonderful thing! Mazel tov!


    I LOVE the first three Monkey Islands. Curse is one of my favorite games ever (second only to Fallout 2), and IMO, one of the most beautifully illustrated games ever. I love point and clicks for the awesome humour they had (if you haven’t, you should play the Broken Sword series). I remember hearing about the Telltale release, but then I completely forgot about them because… uh…. Look! A three-headed monkey!!

  22. I believe I found at least 2 commenters on this very cite who seemed to subscribe to the view that limited, non-threatening verbal pressure is enough to coerce someone into sex.

    Your MRA buddies believe this as well. It’s why they argue that more men are raped by women than women are raped by men. It’s through verbal coercion to have sex.

  23. @Shadow, on the off-chance you have an iPhone, the first Tales of Monkey Island installment is free at the moment, you should grab it off of the App Store and give it a try! If you like it, though, I’d recommend playing the rest of them on a PC.

    If you don’t have an iPhone, sorry for being one of those iPhone people.

  24. Also, though I don’t want to support Dworkin, I do not think saying that she thinks “all hetero PiV is rape” is not a very accurate summary of even her views.

  25. No, it isn’t, and a person claiming it as her view is a good sign of where they got there opinions on feminism from. So many reasons to get beef with Dworkin and mackinnon, but the standard antifeminist disinformation sources have to make do with lies and distortion there, too.

  26. I dunno, I started reading some of the radical feminist texts and I think that if you don’t have a strong understanding of the underlying concepts and the nuances of certain words, it would be very easy to come to the wrong conclusions. That article Roberta posted was probably the clearest writing I’ve come across, much simpler to read as a beginner of radfem thinking. A lot of the women who wrote for feminism were clearly well educated and so their writing is not as accessible to people like me, who lack higher education.

  27. Dworkin does get turgid, yes. But what I meant is that people who go around claiming she said all sex was rape usually never read her at all, even to be confused. They usually get their opinions from a list of “{things famous feminists said” and those opinions are usually easy to spot if you’ve read the anti-feminist lists.

    But I definitely agree with you that plenty of second, and certainly plenty of more academic third wave feminism is easily misinterpreted at the source.

  28. Your MRA buddies believe this as well. It’s why they argue that more men are raped by women than women are raped by men. It’s through verbal coercion to have sex.

    weytwut? They stopped claiming it because of prison rape? Not that htat’s, you know, true, but I’m surprised they admitted it.

  29. Problems with your comment? I don’t have time to detail them all.

    Lets start with the obvious howlers:

    Rape trials have the highest conviction rate of any serious crime, 67%. That’s more than double the conviction rate for murder trials.

    False. Prosecutors routinely rack up numbers in the 90 percent conviction range (that is the rate of conviction for all the crimes they try in court). A prosecutor who falls below 80 percent is often fired.

    So, if we take your 67 percent at face value, and recall the 90 percent rate of conviction, all other crimes have to offset the rape losses.

    Rape shield laws are another example. They improperly restrict a defendant’s ability to testify in his own defense, and bar defense attorneys from attacking the credibility of what is often the sole piece of evidence against the accused (the accuser’s testimony).

    Again, false. Shield laws are restrictions on the public naming of rape victims. They don’t inhibit the trial behavior of the defense at all. Since the complaints, the statements and the testimony are all part of the disctovery/trial the defense has every opportunity to attack them (and does).

    Last year’s OCR letter has effectively enshrined a presumption of guilt for any male accused of sexual misconduct.

    Citation desperately needed. One, colleges are not courts. They are allowed to use any criteria they like to deal with problems (so long as those criteria are applied evenhandedly to all students). The reccomendation of a, “preponderance of the evidence” standard is an attempt to make it more equitable for the victims, and the accused. It would preclude more harsh, “get rid of him/her, because this is causing bad publicity” standards, while not raising the standard to an almost impossibly high, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, because the latter is hard enough to obtain even with the compulsive power of the courts to bring evidence into the light.

    I’m a criminal trial attorney,

    I don’t believe it. The nonsense you just spouted about how only 35 percent of trials for murder end in conviction, that makes me dead certain you aren’t a defense attorney

    That you argue shield laws prevent Brady evidence from being admitted is also a mark against your being a criminal defense attorney (that and the, “trial lawyer”, since as a turn of phrase its strongest representation is in the Republican campaigns based on, “law and order”, or to remove rights to sue where, “trial attorneys” is used as a bogeyman).

  30. Crap: I was thinking of other aspects of shield laws, but DSC covered your failures in regard to the aspects relating to non-relevant prior behavior (as with “prior bad acts” in other criminal cases; if they can’t be shown to be probative, then they aren’t admissible).

  31. Pecunium, or other statistically- or legally-knowledgeable folks — I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the conviction rate aspect of this question. The conviction rate Roberta was reporting is the percentage of rape cases brought to trial that ended in conviction, right? So if a DA only took one rape case to trial and won, but let all other accused rapists off the hook or plea bargained them, that DA could claim a 100% conviction rate? Assuming prosecutors only take cases to trial where they are reasonably certain they will win, that kind of conviction rate seems fairly meaningless. Would it be more meaningful to look at conviction rates based on population? See: Or is that also problematic?

  32. The nonsense you just spouted about how only 35 percent of trials for murder end in conviction, that makes me dead certain you aren’t a defense attorney

    One of the pages I looked at said it was a 33.5% rate at trial. One thing that Ms Criminal Trial Attorney forgot though is that the vast majority of cases that do go to trial are the prosecution’s strongest cases.

  33. Wow, I’m out of it for a day and I miss this thread explode

    And you need a 101 on human psychology and behavioral science. Human decision making is influenced by all kinds of factors. Free will is largely an illusion, but why narrowly put this focus on the choice to consent to sex?

    Roberta, I’m admittedly curious in what sense you are invoking the free will is an illusion argument. Regardless, since free will is supposedly largely illusory, what caused me to type this message out right now?

    I find it deeply ironic that you are arguing the lack of free will when more or less engaging in rape apologia. Particularly when the article you linked talked about both the agency and power-differences arguments of the consent debate quite clearly. Here’s a hint, next time you cite something, read it first.

    Most of the commentors on this board have so little respect for women that they don’t allow them to take responsbility for their own actions…but want to hold men responsible for women’s behavior.

    Mags, maybe you’ve missed it, but the commenters here have held both you and Roberta (whom are *gasp*, both women), to your words. In other words, they are not only allowing but expecting both of you to take responsibility for your own actions. They’re not holding any of our male commenters (even the trolls) responsible for the behavior of either of you here (nor should they).

  34. Roberta: @Fatman

    Not just for asking for sex, but asking for sex in ways that feminists deem unacceptable. For instance, asking a second time after your partner says “no.”

    This is rape under the feminist definition.

    So, either none of those feminists ever ask a second time, or you are, to be polite, making shit up.

    I’m a feminist. I’ve asked a second time. I’ve been asked a second time. None of those people (note the use of the plural) over the course of almost three decades, whom I asked/was asked a second time by, ever said I raped them, or vice versa.

    Refusing to take a no for an answer, and pressing until a yes is finally obtained, that’s rape. It’s also more than a second request.

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