Now, Elam E-mailed the almost 200 people planning to come to his June conference in Detroit — a fading industrial city chosen because it represented “masculinity” — to warn them to be on their very best behavior. Anyone “trash-talking women” or “making violent statements, even jokingly” would be summarily thrown out, he warned. Enemies of the men’s rights movement, Elam continued, “will be looking for anything they can to hurt us with. They will be listening, eavesdropping, and if they can, gathering things to harm us with.” The man who two years ago was posting photos of women who had committed “offenses against men” and vowing to “fuck their shit up” even told arriving conference-goers that his goal was to “build bridges between men and women instead of walls.”
That didn’t sound too much like the Paul Elam who has emerged as probably the best-known men’s rights activist in the United States. It wasn’t long ago that he declared October to be “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” explaining, “I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall.” Elsewhere, he asserted that many women who are raped asked for it, saying “women who act provocatively; who taunt men sexually, toying with their libidos for personal power and gain, etc., have the same type of responsibility for what happens to them as, say, someone who parks their car in a bad neighborhood with the keys in the ignition.”
“A lot of women,” he continued, “get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk through life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH — PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.” Elam has misleadingly cited certain research to make the claim that 40% to 50% of rape allegations are false. But the best scholarly studies show that between about 2% and 8% of such allegations are actually false — a rate that is comparable for false allegations of most other violent crimes.
In the end, Elam’s conference was in fact relatively subdued, although he claimed he had to spend $25,000 on security because of death threats from the movement’s enemies. Most of the speakers — almost all of whom had made far worse comments in other venues — kept their vitriol to a minimum. Some, like the speaker discussing men’s grief, even contributed some useful ideas.