Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Party

We were all having a wonderful time. 

It was getting late, though, going on 4, and I was with a sleepy girl who was wanting to go home to bed so I was on one last circuit saying my goodbyes to people I hadn’t seen in awhile, but a lot of them were very drunk and it was hard to make sense out of what they were saying or for them to understand my replies. What they were saying was true, but clumsy and hard to decipher, hard to make out, all muddy and confused.

   There is an honesty to drunken people, wasted people - people at parties - a happiness and generosity that I like, even when I’m straighter than them, which I usually am, these days. There is a poetry of sorts in their saying what is really on their minds, past politeness, saying what they really think and feel.

   In a loud and crowded upper room I was saying goodbye to an old old friend. His arms were slung around my neck like one of those monkey puppets and his eyes were rolling around in his head like ball-bearings. He was trying to get his tongue in my mouth. I was engaged in the long and laborious task of disentangling myself from him and getting to my feet when two girls walked into the room. These were the same two girls who had been making such a big show of commandeering the bed a long time earlier in the evening. They looked as though they were looking for something.

   As I got to my feet one of them jabbed a long hard object into my chest. I looked down. It was a plastic cap gun rifle. She pushed it further into my chest and squeezed the trigger.

   “Bang,” she said, flatly, not looking in my eyes. She pointed it at someone else beside me. “Bang,” she said, again. 

   “Bang,” she continued, turning it on another. “Oh, I’ve already done you,” she said. Her voice was drowsy, monotonous. Lifeless.

   “Ba..,” she began again and then stopped herself. “Oh,” she said, and giggled “you’re a girl,” and looked around for someone else. 

   “You’re a man,” she said, “Bang”.

It was only then that I realised just what it was that they were doing, that they were shooting only the men. That they were making their way through all of the rooms of the party, one by one, shooting all the men.

   And then she said it herself and there was no humour in her voice, or anger. Not really even hate. A few drunken men attempted to complain and moaned a little. But they were very far gone and it came out only noise.
There was nothing in her eyes.
Over the drunken room I tried to ask her why she was doing this, why she thought that it was funny, or deserving, or even just a good idea. I wanted to know what it was that had happened, what had happened to her before to bring her here like this.

   But she wouldn’t even look at me, it was like I wasn’t there. It was like she couldn’t even see me - only a man, another man, just another man. And so she kept on, glassy-eyed, waving the gun around the room, over and over, shooting all the men.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Colin Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013)

I first heard about Colin Wilson years ago when I was homeless and writing books sleeping in parks and roof gardens, so I loved finding out that he'd done that too when writing his first book, 'The Outsider', in the British Library by day and sleeping under the stars in Hyde Park at night.

But I only actually got into his books a couple of years back, at which point I gobbled up every one of them I could find - Religion and the Rebel, The Outsider, Beyond The Outsider, Superconsciousness, The Misfits, The Strength To Dream.... I love that they are all pretty much just one book, a small, tight number of passions and things he felt to be incontrovertibly true that he obsessively returned to over and over again, for decades. Always reminded me of Van Morrison, in that.

He was a little too wide-eyed and gullible, especially when it came to UFOs & the occult side of things but the flip side of that is that he was always open and ready to be interested in something new, to be ready to dream with open eyes.

He was what we around these parts call 'a freelance enthusiast' and a little Buddha of all his own making. A sweet, mystical, lovely man.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Men's Rights For Beginners

Another little gem found over on Tumblr. One of my favourite commentators over there, One Man's View, was posed the question tell me more about MRA. i don’t know shit about it. And he responded:

Ok.  When I see these I can’t always tell if people are sincere, but after looking over your blog, you seem to be. So I’ll try to outline it it for you.

MRA is Men’s Rights Activist. Now as far as that is a thing, it’s typically a person who is part of the Men’s Rights Movement.  I’m going to assume your real interest is in the Men’s Rights Movement rather than MRAs themselves.

The MRM is a rights movement focused on areas where men are disadvantaged, attempting to even out things.  To briefly detail a few things the MRM advocates:
  1. Fair representation in family courts.  Courts in the US (I can’t speak for the UK and other countries) currently default to awarding primary custody of a child to the mother, the MRM would like that to be changed to shared custody by default.
  2. Reproductive Rights.  In first world nations men do not have Reproductive Rights.  There is a lot of misunderstanding of this point, as many assume(wrongly) this means the MRAs think men should have a say in abortion. to be clear, THEY DO NOT WANT A SAY IN ABORTION. Reproductive rights for men actually has three subcategories. The first being the right to know he has reproduced, protection from forced reproduction, and the right to legal paternal surrender. As it stands right now, no one in the course of a pregnancy or a child’s entire life, is anyone required to inform the father that he has a child.  Men can(and have been) forced to reproduce via rape, fraud, and trickery.  They were subsequently held responsible for the acts they were the victims of.  Legal paternal surrender is the right to choose not to be a parent or responsible for a child, and the surrender that burden to the state.  Women already have all of these protections.
  3. Intactivism- This is it’s own movement that falls under the purview of men’s rights. Basically the is the fight against he accepted practice of male genital mutilation, a.k.a. circumcision, and combating stereotypes associated with the practice. a brief google search can find more information on this if interested.
  4. Awareness campaigns of men’s health issues.  Things like prostate cancer, testicular cancer.  The fact that the same strains of HPV that have a high risk of causing cervical cancer, have an equally high risk of cause thyroid cancer, the HPV vaccine would protect men from this, but there is no campaign pushing men to be aware of these issues, or encouraging them to get vaccinated.
  5. Fighting Predominant Aggressor Laws: This is a set of laws that defaults the male in any case of intimate partner violence to be the aggressor. I have a write up on this already. Basically these laws dictate that no matter what has happened, a female is justified it attacking her partner preemptively in self defense, because he has the potential to harm, even if he never has.
  6. Opening shelters for battered men: this is a twofold issue, first is getting society understand that men being battered by their partners is a real issue, and then convincing them we need shelters for men as well.  You can find more statistics about IPV here. SAVE is a gender neutral resource for intimate partner violence.
Now for the sticky part:  MRAs fighting against Feminists. This happens, a lot.  They are fighting disinformation, male victim erasure, and blatant libel and slander.  They aren’t fighting to take away rights from women, they aren’t fighting to keep oppressive systems in place. Matter of fact, if feminism left MRAs alone, and ended a couple of damaging campaigns, MRAs wouldn’t even talk about feminism.

The campaigns being things like “Don’t be that guy”, “Men can stop rape”, and “Teach men not to rape”  All of these campaigns, which are feminist led and maintained, paint rape as something only men do, only happens to women, and that all men are rapists by default.  MRAs fight this, feminists perpetuate it.

Feminists also dismiss all of the above, as inconsequential, and irrelevant in light of problems women face, and that anyone fighting for these things is scum, less than human, worthy of scorn, and needs to die.

Oh, and just to counter a rampant claim… MRAs don’t blame feminism for all these issues. Just the ones (like number 5 above) that can be traced directly to feminism.

Feel free to ask me to elaborate on any of these things.

Paul Elam gets an email from three UK school girls

by Paul Elam
I get a lot of interesting emails. It is one of my job perks. This morning, I woke up to find an email from three young women, British high school students, who wrote to get some opinions on sexism in the media.

I thought I would share my answers with you, as I have with them.

First, their email:

Dear A Voice For Men

Our names are [names redacted], and we are year 10 students from [redacted]. We are conducting an investigation to find out whether sexism in the media destroys society on a global scale – and we would like to find out your opinions on our topic.

In our group we believe that sexism in the media does destroy society globally in ways such as young individuals feeling outcasted[sic] because they do not look like the ‘perfect’ and ‘skinny’ women they see in the media leading them to starving themselves just so they can be like them. It can also make men feel that they should be ‘sex gods’ because of how they are presented in magazines and on TV. Could you please answer these questions as we value your opinion.

1) What do you think about sexism in the media?
2) How are men and women presented in the media?
3) Does sexism in the media destroy society globally?

Thank you for taking the time to read our email, we would appreciate if you could get back to us as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks,

[names redacted]

My response is as follows:

Hello [redacted], I will do my best to answer your questions.

1) What do you think about sexism in the media?

I think sexism in the media is real, and it is driven by the desire to sell products, mostly to women, which makes some measure of sense because women are the primary spenders of income in society.

2) How are men and women presented in the media?

Men are presented inaccurately in several ways. The first is that they are portrayed as bumbling fools, inferior to women and unable to cope with life without women’s help and guidance. They are also portrayed as evil abusers of women and other men. And lastly they are portrayed as sacrificial heroes and invincible tough guys, which are pretty close to the same thing. These are men who disregard their own safety and well-being, or who are so tough they don’t have to risk, in order to fulfill women’s romantic fantasies of what they want men to be. Seldom are men portrayed realistically or fairly.

Women are similarly misrepresented. One way they are presented is as much more powerful than they actually are. Think Laura Croft, Batgirl, etc.
The less overt version of this is television shows and commercials where they are cast as superwomen who perfectly balance professional and family life, while making sure their bumbling husbands stay out of trouble.

They are also presented as the damsel in distress; unrealistically innocent, helpless maidens who need a man to risk his own sacrifice to help them.

Woven throughout most of the representations of women are the issues your group is concerned with. Women having perfect bodies is symbolic of their sexual power. Women naturally gravitate toward this message because being physically perfect gives them more real life power over men and with other women. Pursuing the “perfect” body is an easy way to suck women in because innately that is what most women aspire to have. Media does not create this drive in women, it just exploits it.

3) Does sexism in the media destroy society globally?

No, sexism in society destroys society globally. Media makes its money not by creating human consciousness, but by understanding it and SELLING to it. Media is not “a thing.” In the end it is people, just like everything else that people create.

The misrepresentations of men and women I mentioned above are good examples of that. Women are the primary consumers in world culture, especially in western nations. So women are the chief targets of messages that come from media. Women want to see men played as fools and idiots (men certainly don’t want that), so that is how the media portrays them.

Women, particularly ones that are hostile to men, want to see them played as evil and abusive, so that is what they get as well. Women also want to see themselves, when not super powerful and capable, as damsels that are sexually desirable enough to have men risk and sacrifice to save them, so that is what the media gives them.

Damsels and heroes. Superwomen and idiot men; all to satisfy female consumers and the men who want to please them.

Very sad, actually. People, I mean. Not the media.

To create a better media that gives both men and women healthier messages, we don’t need to look at advertising, television or movies. We need to look in the mirror. Media is by and large an apparatus to sell people their own fantasies. When those fantasies change, so will the media.

I hope this helps and best of wishes with your project.

Paul Elam

This post originally appeared at