An interview with Paul Elam, transcribed for those who cannot access youtube


This words written below are a transcription from a youtube video, made upon request from someone who couldn’t access youtube. I came across this video a few months ago and was overcome with emotion. My family had been waiting all out lives to hear these very words from a professional but up until day this longing was fruitless. Not many people know what it is like if a family member has a terrible disease, is looking for help but not adequately catered for. It takes over your life is all that I can say. It takes away your childhood and does not stop when you are an adult. Always wondering why people are kept in this situation. There will never be words for me to describe the joy of hearing these words and the pain that ran along with hearing them from knowing that if she could have heard them she might have had a different life, a happy and fulfilled life. For some reason or another wanting women to be have a fulfilled life is seen as being anti-women in our current political climate. It’s mind boggling and that it was when I was attacked by two Feminists for sharing the interview below, that contains the words that resemble those I used to utter as a 9 year old and still would as a 31 year old.

“Hi everybody I am Janet Bloomfield (judgybith.com), welcome back to google hangout. This is the first in a series of what I am calling get to know us and what I am going to do is every Friday afternoon from now until the conference in Detroit is interview someone from the MRA cham, some prominent member, either member of  A VOICE FOR Men’s staff, maybe one of the presenters at the Detroit conference, a regular contributor, other members of the movement  and the goal is for everyone to get to know a little bit about us and our journeys and how we came to be part of this movement. So my first guest of cause is sort of the founder of the most prominent website for men and for men’s issues and that would be Mr Paul Elam from A Voice for Men.” “Hi everybody, I am glad to be here.” “Alright, now , the first question that you had for me was a question about my journey and I am kind of embarrassed to say that I actually know very little about you and your journey. I know that you started out working in mental health services but I really don’t know very much more about you so I am wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about how you came to realise you weren’t just seeing individuals with specific problems but that somehow you put together the realisation that this was a systemic problem that was based on gender. I mean there had to be a lot of things that happened for you to get to that point and I am really curious about your background and your experience and how you came to be where you are now.”

“Sure, it started for me in the 80s actually, during a time that I actually identified as a Feminist. I was working in the mental health industry, at the time I was the clinical director of a chemical dependency programme, at a hospital in Houston, and I became involved a lot as women’s issues started coming to the forefront of consciousness in our society, about the deficits that I perceived that we had in chemical dependency treatment as it related to women’s issues.  There are – despite the ramblings of some ideologues there are – people do have some issues as groups those issues that do affect women as a group, there is issues that affect men as a group. And at that time the idea was coming of age that we were overlooking a lot of factors that might have impacted the advocacy of treatment that were related with women and how we dealt with them in the treatment center and so I took a very active role in establishing special tracts for women, in trying to get myself and my staff as up to date as possible on information that would help us serve female clients and address their issues during their time of treatment, especially as it related to problems with addiction and alcohol. At the same time as this was going on – and it was ironically the root of why I was getting this information we had an ideological takeover going on in our academic institutions, in our colleges in our universities. Ideologues were going particularly into the liberal arts and fields like mental health, and bringing Feminist ideology, bringing women’s issues to the forefront and when I first saw it I thought it was just the next logical step in a society that was looking for equity and looking for fairness and justice. But as time passed even as I was involved with it myself I noticed a lot of animosity, a lot of vitriol, a lot of the ideologues that were supposedly looking out for the interests of women actually expressing a message that was targeting men as their problem and I witnessed in the mental health field the idea that we were treating addictions and maybe adding information about special populations in order to enhance our ability to help people do something entirely different. It became a blame game: Women came into treatment and were basically told by a lot of people that all of their problems were rooted in men and which of cause is the complete opposite, the idea of good chemical dependency treatment is that we treat/teach people accountability for their problems, that we acknowledge that they must take responsibility for their own lives if they are gonna address a problem that involves their own choices which addictions certainly do. And it got to be so hostile that it culminated in a point for me where at one point I watched a woman who we had contracted to come in and address a group of men tell me before going in that session – that she was being very handsomely paid to do – that what she loved to do more than anything else was taking men’s macho bullshit and shoving it down their throats and the way she looked at me was no different than the way she looked when she appeared to be envisioning how she would treat our male clients. This was an alarm and I went to our administration and discussed it with them and I found the more I talked about it the more resistance I got.  The more I found that people were not open to the idea that there might be something wrong with demonising half the population and giving people who have accountability problems a scapegoat for their own actions that are self destructive and that’s what really first caught my attention to the fact there was something rotten in Denmark and the more I investigated and the more I looked into it and the more actual Feminist literature I read and here is that little bit of self revelation: I was like a lot of other people, I heard the idea women’s rights and women’s equality and I went all nat with a banner and on a crusade without ever digging into their literature but once I did: Mam, my eyes were really opened up. This was not a platform for helping  women really in any sense. It was a political power going out and it was being accomplished by demonising men and we started seeing it come out in the pop literature in books such as Women who love too much and Susan Forewards Men who hate women and the women who love them and all of this stuff being predicated on the idea that women love and men hate and that was reflective all throughout the treatment field, I saw it in almost every clinician I worked with and then I stumbled on, fate had me end up when Dr Farrell’s book The Myth of Male Power was first published, I might even have been one of the first few people to buy it and I read that and it finally put the pieces together for me of what was wrong. There really was something wrong going on here in this culture where it addressed men’s issues and in particular where it did not address men’s issues and where it misaddressed women’s issues mischaracterised everything and that woke me up. This of cause was really pre-internet days when things were really not, we’re very lucky now to have these platforms to discuss these issues because I found in the early days that writing letters to editors, I did that feverishly, maybe one out of ten of them would be published, that sort of thing. So that was the start of my journey. It wasn’t out of a bad divorce, it wasn’t out of a mean mother or because some woman broke my heart. It was because I saw men coming into the treatment center looking for help and instead of getting help they were getting the message that they were demons and I was seeing women come into the treatment center looking for help and instead of getting the message of accountability that they desperately needed because addictions can be terminal they were getting the message – the exact wrong message that none of this is your fault – and if you didn’t have these issues with men you wouldn’t be an alcoholic and that turned me around completely.

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