The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process was a gift for men’s rights groups, sparking interest from those who saw the Supreme Court justice—and not his female accusers—as the real victim in the ordeal.
Organizations and advocates told The Daily Beast they saw a surge in donations and membership applications in the weeks after Christine Blasey Ford and two other women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Paul Elam, president of the men’s rights website A Voice for Men—who once declared that women who get drunk and make out with men are “begging” to be raped—said traffic to his site soared after Ford went public with her allegations.
The site posted numerous articles about the professor—referring to her as “rape liar Christine Blasey Ford” and accusing Republicans of “coddl[ing] her hunky dory ass”—and Elam said donations spiked on the day Ford gave her testimony. (Though not enough, apparently: Elam wrote a blog post earlier this week asking for donations to keep the site online.)
The activist identified the hearing as a kind of tipping point for men concerned about the expansion of survivors’ rights.
“Essentially for the last 40 to 50 years, the left has weaponized women and weaponized accusations against men,” Elam told The Daily Beast. “... A lot of the people that write me do so with the understanding that this has been going on, and that they’re seeing it reach critical mass now.”
Elam’s site is part of the so-called men’s rights sphere, which includes blatantly misogynistic groups like the “red pill” and “incel” internet forums, and more mainstream organizations that say their focus is on equal rights and preferential treatment. While the groups vary in their messaging, they share the same core belief: that as women gain power in society, men are coming under threat.
And they couldn’t have asked for a better vehicle for their message than the Kavanaugh maelstrom, in which Republicans accused Democrats of “destroying a man’s life” and President Trump declared this moment as a “very scary time for young men in America.”
Cynthia Garrett of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), which advocates for students accused of sexual assault, identified the hearing as a turning point for her organization, too.
In the days surrounding Ford’s testimony, FACE heard not only from students requesting their services but also from supporters looking to pitch in. In recent weeks, lawyers have offered their time and skills, and volunteers have raised their hands for fundraising.
“It’s great for us because it’s never been a popular topic, and we’ve never been the heroes that victim advocates are said to be,” Garrett said. “It’s nice that people are finally recognizing that this could happen to you.”
Harry Crouch, the president of the National Coalition For Men (NCFM), said his group also saw an increase in donations and applications during the proceedings—including from women.
Crouch’s group is known for publishing the identities of accusers, comparing false accusations to “psychological rape,” and complaining that women’s networking events are sexist. But he provided several emails from women who appeared eager to sign on in the wake of the Kavanaugh firestorm.
“The Kavanaugh hearing put me over the top,” one woman wrote. “That was the most unfair, horrific hit job I have ever seen… You’d be surprised at how many women today have been brainwashed into assuming that if a woman levels an accusation that it must be true. That is scary.”
It’s not as shocking as it may seem, with political identity trumping gender unity in some cases. According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, support for Kavanaugh among Republican women rose to 20 percent in the days after he and Ford testified. A number of conservative women who were survivors of sexual assault and found Ford’s account of being nearly raped at a high school gathering credible told The Daily Beast they still supported Kavanaugh.
Both Elam and Crouch said their new readers didn’t write in with any bold plans of action. Advocating for men’s rights publicly, Elam said—rather dramatically, given that he has made a career out of the movement—is “professional suicide.” Instead, the new recruits want to know what is being done, what they can do to help, and sometimes, just where they can send a check.
The support for men’s rights groups is striking in its contrast to the more prominent movements of the day. Hundreds of women marched through the capital on the day of the Ford’s testimony, carrying signs reading “Believe survivors” and “Stand with Dr. Ford,” and crowdfunding campaigns raised more than $500,000 for her transportation and security. EMILY’s List, which advocates for pro-choice women running for office, saw its largest single day of donations ever the day after she testified.
“Women were already motivated to get out and take action, but the Kavanaugh hearings were more fuel on an already-raging fire,” Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List’s vice president of communications, said at the time. “Women are angry, and they’re fighting back."
It appears this outpouring of support for survivors reached even the men’s rights movement. Crouch said one member of his organization—a central figure of several men’s rights groups—pulled back from her duties after the hearing. She was a sexual assault survivor herself, he said, and she believed Ford.
“She says [the hearing] brought back memories, and she believes the professor completely, and she thinks Kavanaugh was lying,” Crouch said.
“It was something I had not thought would happen really—to someone that I knew, anyway,” he added. “I don’t know anyone else… that even supports Ford.”