Patrice Stanton was planning to attend a controversial conference on men’s rights in downtown Detroit until the event was suddenly moved to a suburban VFW hall just two weeks before the event.
Like other attendees, Stanton was already locked into hotel reservations at the Hilton DoubleTree, where the conference was originally scheduled. Now she and others must find transportation to the VFW Post in St. Clair Shores, where protesters are expected to gather.
Stanton decided to request a refund on the message board of A Voice for Men, which is hosting the event, and she got a mouthful from organizers.
“You come here attempting to pose a couple of ‘gotcha’ questions with all the finesse of a tenth grader,” a moderator of the site wrote. “Go fuck yourself.”
The group’s founder, Paul Elam, added that women are safer than men in a city.
“As a woman you are less likely to experience violence, on the street or otherwise, than men,” Elam said.
Elam added: “As I have stated repeatedly, the circumstances of the venue change is not something i can discuss publicly for legal reasons. Whether you personally approve of this is up to you, but honestly of no concern to me.”
The harsh and dismissive response to Stanton is typical of many in the men’s rights movement, which floods comment sections and online forums with attacks on women and feminists.
A conference spokeswoman lashed out at protesters in Detroit late last week.
“Let those Wayne State cunts fuck themselves up their own asses,” Janet Bloomfield tweeted.
The group has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “women haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws and false rape accusations.”
A Voice for Men’s followers claim they are oppressed by irrational feminists who hate men. The group also accuses women of exaggerating the frequency of rape and denounces “the institution of marriage as unsafe and unsuitable for modern men.”
The group announced a new location for the conference last week, saying protests from opponents were causing a spike in demand. Elam insists the venue was changed only to accommodate a larger audience – an odd move just two weeks before the conference.
Some attendees also are questioning A Voice for Men’s use of $30,000 it raised after the DoubleTree demanded that the group pays for security and insurance in the wake of alleged threats from opponents. Those threats have never been substantiated.
Despite the conference location change, A Voice for Men is keeping the donations and insists it will be spent on security.
Some attendees asked for a better explanation but got none.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.