As we recently explained in this article, in order for us to maintain the moral high ground over feminism, it’s critical for the MHRM to be diligent in policing our own & call out those who identify as MHRAs but espouse views that run contrary to MHRM principles. Usually that’s not a difficult thing to do because the person is a total stranger & they have just expressed something hateful, so you don’t really care too much about sparing their feelings, but what does an MHRA do when someone you know, have been working with, & consider an ally, perhaps even a friend, gradually reveals themselves to hold views or beliefs that run contrary to to those that you have been fighting for & force you into a position where you can no longer in good conscience support their activism efforts?
You nut up & call them out just like normal, that’s what.
Sadly, this is not just a hypothetical situation for us, it’s a real, & very regrettable, situation.
Right, enough sugar coating, time for all of the unsightly details…
Several weeks ago, Men’s Rights Sydney was contacted by someone, let’s call him “Peter” (not his real name) who was keen to start up his own Men’s Rights Group in Melbourne, Australia called, appropriately enough, “Men’s Rights Melbourne”. We spoke at length to this person over Skype many times &, over a period of 2 or 3 weeks, gathered a pretty good picture of his views, goals, & experience as an MHRA, or at least we thought we did. So, what with us being charitable types & always keen to assist people in doing real world activism in support of men & boys, we did what we could to help him out, advise him, & just generally help him to get his web site off the ground & point him in the right general direction. Can’t hurt right?
Red flags started popping up almost immediately. About a week after his website was established we noticed that an article had appeared on his site that had statements in it that….well, let’s just say we could not support them.
We caught that one quickly however, raised our concerns with him, and he agreed to take the article down. It has now, to the best of my knowledge, been deleted & will never see the light of day, but it was something of a sobering shock to us & seemed to come completely out of left field.
Perhaps naively, we put that down to the fact that, at this early stage of it’s evolution, “Peter” was running Men’s Rights Melbourne all by himself & the lack of a sounding board meant that dubious judgement calls were not being critiqued before publication. We counselled him against repeating these kinds of views, at least in the MHRM context, & offered to act as his sounding board in future should he ever be in doubt about something he wants to publish.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to 22nd April and, to our shock & extreme displeasure, David Futrelle posts this article on his site. Our first reaction was to doubt the validity of the claim (I mean, what MHRA in his or her right mind would do THAT?) but after contacting Men’s Rights Melbourne & asking about it, he admitted to sending it. He hedged by saying that it was his birthday & he was drunk at the time (not a good sign) but he did send that email.
To say that we were a bit unhappy about that is like saying that the Pacific Ocean has a bit of water in it. I found out quickly that the only thing that pisses me off more than reading an article critical of the MHRM penned by Futrelle is when he pens an article critical of the MHRM but actually has legitimate grounds for doing so, & this is quite possibly the only time in his entire career that that has happened.
We now had severe doubts about associating with this guy & even more about helping him to establish his site, but even at this stage we thought we could salvage the situation by appealing to his sense of honour. We urged him to take the high road, apologise to Futrelle, & to never drink & email again. He refused to apologise but assured us he would not email while drunk again. We also urged him to run articles & ideas past us in future because it was obvious that he needed someone to vet his work but he was noncommittal about that. It was obvious to us by this stage, & with the benefit of hindsight, that we had not properly vetted this guy before agreeing to help him & that this was a serious mistake on our part, but one that we will never make again. Ever. Fools rush in indeed &, in this case, those fools were us.
In-depth internal discussions about the situation ensued but before we could even come to a decision, we got a double whammy.
First, we come across this tweet.
Then not 15 minutes later, this article appeared on the Men’s Rights Melbourne site (link no longer available). Like his earlier faux pas, both are clearly ridiculous & certainly not in line with the views of the vast majority of the MHRM, or in line with reality for that matter.
That was it for us. We had tried to reason with him but we could no longer ignore the fact that this guy was a loose cannon & that we were never going to be able to endorse his views. Unless he agreed to step down & hand Men’s Rights Melbourne over to somebody else, we had no choice but to sever all ties with him & denounce any & all articles that we could not, in good conscience, support. We put that ultimatum to him.
Unfortunately “Peter” refused to step down & instead elected to shut down Men’s Rights Melbourne entirely. We would have preferred to see him hand it off to somebody else but, considering the circumstances, we were ultimately satisfied by this.
“Peter” is not a bad person but, even though he obviously has a sincere desire to help alleviate the suffering that so many men & boys endure these days, it does not change the fact that it is obvious to us that his judgement is simply not reliable in this context. The hard truth is that, while he is entitled to his opinions & views, we simply cannot endorse them or be associated with him.
That is all,
Everyone at Men’s Rights Sydney
*Thanks to Dana from AVFM for the Image
UPDATE – 4/5/2014
Since posting this article, we have also sent an email to David Futrelle explaining to him the backstory behind the email that was sent to him & our views about it. We are fully aware that Futrelle may attempt to use this as a platform for criticism of us but we are willing to take that chance. The way we see it is that it’s not really about him but about us, about holding ourselves to a higher moral standard than those who oppose us hold themselves to.
The email we sent reads as follows…
Mr Futrelle,My name is Tom Voltz, I am a co-founder of the Australian MHRM organisation called Men’s Rights Sydney (MRS). I am writing to you in regards to the insulting email that you received from Men’s Rights Melbourne (MRM) about a month ago.We have come to understand, both because of the email he sent to you & several other things, that the person running Men’s Rights Melbourne was not capable of conducting himself with an appropriate level of professionalism for somebody in his role. At the time of that email, Men’s Rights Melbourne was only a few weeks old & consisted of just one person but, as soon as this became clear to us we, along with several other MHRAs, took what steps we reasonably could to ensure that Men’s Rights Melbourne would be run by somebody that is capable of conducting themselves with a level of professionalism that commensurate with their position within the wider MHRM.Men’s Rights Sydney, & a large proportion of the wider MHRM, do not condone the type of childish personal attack that was contained within that email. We are more than happy to engage in serious, even heated, debate but the sort of email that was sent to you is not productive & is not something that we condone.Although Men’s Rights Sydney was not officially affiliated with Men’s Rights Melbourne, we have convinced the person who ran it to step down as leader & he has since elected to shut down the site completely.If you would like a more detailed description of the situation, you can read the following article on our site:FYI, we will also be publishing the contents of this email publicly on our site, viewable at that same URL.Sincerely,Tom Voltz