TIME society

Chris Christie Did the Ice Bucket Challenge And Here’s Video Proof

He nominates Jimmy Fallon, Mark Zuckerberg, and Cory Booker to take the plunge next

Chris Christie, New Jersey’s governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, became the latest high-profile figure to participate in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” Tuesday evening. That’s the Facebook trend in which people post videos of themselves getting doused with ice water, then nominate others to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS research.

In the video posted to Christie’s Facebook page, he’s seen grinning as two of his children, Patrick and Bridget, do the honors. He nominated New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon to complete the challenge next.

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert Kennedy, nominated President Barack Obama to do the challenge, but a White House spokesperson said he will just give money. Other influencers who have completed the challenge include Martha Stewart, Matt Lauer and Lance Bass.

TIME society

Roald Dahl Fans Are Not Pleased With This Creepy New Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cover

Penguin

Penguin says it's meant to highlight the 'light and the dark aspects' of the work

This week, Penguin Books released a new cover of the Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Exciting news for fan of this classic novel, right? Eh, not so much. Reactions across the web were largely negative, with fans deeming the cover inappropriately sexualized and reminiscent of JonBenét Ramsey. Others even thought it was a spoof.

But some people appreciated the cover’s creepiness because the book itself is, of course, pretty dark.

Penguin explains its design in a Facebook post:

Publishing for the first time as a Penguin Modern Classic, this design is in recognition of the book’s extraordinary cultural impact and is one of the few children’s books to be featured in the Penguin Modern Classics list.

This new image for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie’s debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series.

Some people have speculated that the girl on the cover is meant to represent either Veruca Salt or Violet Beauregarde, though according to the BBC, that’s not true.

Either way, this art is a pretty puzzling choice, but at least the publisher didn’t put Johnny Depp on the cover.

 

TIME Culture

Study: Society Flourished When Humans Got Less Manly

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A model of Peking man (Homo erectus pekinensis), who lived 1-2 million years ago Getty Images

Does lower T lead to higher tech? Research links decrease in manly traits to an increase in sophisticated toolmaking in early humans

Some anthropologists now believe that advanced human behaviors like toolmaking only developed when early humans evolved to have lower levels of testosterone than their ancestors, according to a new study published in Current Anthropology.

“All of a sudden, in the archeological record, culture and advanced technology suddenly becomes more widespread. And at that time we also see a decrease in testosterone,” said the study’s lead author Bob Cieri, a graduate student at the University of Utah. “Before 50,00 years ago, there were brief flashes of advanced behavior and artifacts, but they’re not persistent and widespread.”

Cieri measured the browridge of different human skulls, which indicates the level of testosterone in the skeleton. Heavier brows and longer faces indicate more testosterone, and more rounded heads indicate less testosterone, according to Stephen Churchill, the Duke professor who supervised Cieri’s work. Cieri measured 13 human skulls that were more than 80,000 years old; 41 skulls between 10,000 and 38,000 years old; and over 1,200 20th-century skulls from different ethnic populations. He found that the modern skulls had substantially more rounded features and less heavy brows than the early skulls, indicating a drop in testosterone between our early ancestors and modern humans.

Cieri says the decrease in testosterone levels could be attributed to the rise in the Homo sapiens population, which meant that people had to be nicer to each other because they were living in closer quarters. “If population density starts increasing, not only are there more people in your immediate environment that you have to get along with, but all land would be occupied with human groups,” he explains. “You wouldn’t just go across to the other side of the valley to hunt bison by yourself, you’d go to the other side of the valley and maybe make a treaty with the other people who live there.”

It’s important to note that these early humans didn’t yet have “culture” as we know it — they were still hunter-gatherers, Cieri says, but they were much less aggressive about it. But he thinks this lowering of testosterone led to more cooperation between people, which laid crucial groundwork for cultural advances thousands of years later.

So if you’re still worried about low T after reading TIME’s recent cover story, “Manopause?!,” consider that a little less T isn’t always a bad thing.

TIME Opinion

You’ve Come a Long Way Daddy

Girl playing outside in the summer
Brian Braiker

A new book asks whether fathers matter. And this dad wonders why we're still asking that question.

Do fathers matter? On the face of it the question is a preposterous one. You might as well be asking “Are friends important?” or “Who needs trees, anyway?”

But Do Fathers Matter? happens to be the title of a new book by author and award-winning science journalist Paul Raeburn. And while the title seems to indulge in a bit of trolling, it turns out the book does a nice job of filling in a few gaps no one completely realized were gaping.

Science has historically focused only on the mother’s role in child-rearing. Raising children, after all, is women’s work, right? It’s a cliche that has taken root in modern society but biologically, this is simply not the case.

Raeburn points us to the titi monkey as an example: “Titi monkey fathers provide food for their offspring and follow mothers around all day, so that whenever the babies are not nursing the fathers can carry them on their backs,” Raeburn writes. “The father carries his infant 90 percent of the time.”

The baby monkeys, in return, are very attached to their fathers. Human fathers, while maybe not quite as dedicated, remain the most committed mammalian fathers of any species on Earth, Raeburn goes on to tell us (tantalizingly leaving open the prospect of some kind of reptilian Superdad.)

Look no further than the latest ad by Cheerios, which comes with its own hashtag: #HowToDad. In it a father of four gives his only mildly-grating manifesto for manly parenting — which lives in the Venn diagram sweet spot between being “awesome” and “responsible.” We’ve come a long way from Mr. Mom.

But science hasn’t been keeping up. The result is a body of knowledge that fails to take into account half of the child-rearing populace. I personally can’t fault science for spending an inordinate amount of time looking at ladies, but it’s not very scientific at the end of the day: A 2005 survey of 514 studies on adolescent and child psychology, for example, revealed that almost half of the research ignored fathers. Only 11 percent made fathers the exclusive focus, Raeburn tells us.

To be fair, there’s been some progress: Before 1970 less than a fifth of scientific studies about parental bonding took dad’s role into account. And minor though it is, Raeburn mines the progress well. One takeaway is that we dads have an impact on our babies before they’re even born.

A bit of context. Here is what progressive fatherhood looked like in 1986: “We were well prepared for natural childbirth, which means that no drugs can be given to the female during delivery. The father, however, can have all he wants,” joked Bill Cosby in his book “Fatherhood.” If only that were true.

“Research is showing that a father’s environment, his behavior and even his appearance can have a substantial effect on fetal health,” Raeburn writes. “And on the health of his grandchildren.”

Good lord. Even my appearance? Let me now use this public forum to apologize now to my grandkids for last year’s mustache and afro combination that I rocked for a solid six months.

Fortunately for my kids I also do the dishes on the regular. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, found that fathers who perform household chores are more likely to bring up daughters who aspire to careers in business, legal and other professions. I am dying for a corollary study to conclude that mothers who shout at the TV during football games and spend a lot of time in the tool shed raise boys that are more likely to go into ballet instruction.

But the research, conducted at the University of British Columbia in Canada, does dovetail with other findings that suggest girls who grow up in the presence of warm, supportive fathers tend to begin puberty later and are less inclined to engage in high-risk sexual behavior than daughters of absentee dads.

This “absentee” word hits home for me. I have been separated from the mother of my kids for nearly five years, a significant chunk of their lives. As a single father with joint custody I see my girls every day, including days when they don’t stay at mine, and am incredibly grateful for it. But I worry all the time about the impact of the breakup on my kids. So I am hyper vigilant.

I take heart in much of Raeburn’s book, not just because I like to cook and find doing dishes therapeutic. He points to one study that found that, while both parents play with children the same amount of time, Dad is — for lack of a better word — the fun parent. Father’s play is “more physical and idiosyncratic,” and babies tend to like it.

“Physical and idiosyncratic” is a diplomatic way, at best, to describe the dance parties I instigate at the breakfast table. Babies (and 6-year-olds) may like it, but the day is coming when my daughters become teenagers and “idiosyncratic” becomes “idiotic.” Oh how I will delight in embarrassing them, though.

It turns out Dad’s play is important when it comes to learning too, providing a critical boost to language development. Premature infants from disadvantaged families had higher IQs if fathers played with them and helped care for them, Raeburn writes. Studies have found that fathers are more likely to stretch their young children’s vocabularies. I can certainly boast that I’ve introduced a few four letter words into my girls’ verbal arsenal.

I’ve interviewed my daughters in this space before, so I thought it might be interesting to see what they had to say about the very question posed in Raeburn’s title: Do fathers matter?

Unfortunately, today got away from us. We woke up early and cuddled while we watched “Little Shop of Horrors” together — not entirely age-appropriate, but hey!, I’m idiosyncratic. Then it was time for breakfast (Waffles! Bacon! Plums! No screens!), then showers. I took them to get a birthday present before a friend’s party. After that it was playground time and swings and a water balloon fight and more swings followed by tears over a lost earring and much consoling and hugs and, finally, dinner.

I guess in the middle of all that I forgot to ask them if their father mattered.

TIME Art

This Furniture Looks, Feels and Smells Like It’s Made Out of Human Skin

Courtesy Gigi Barker

Strangely, not part of the Buffalo Bill Home Collection

A set of furniture designed by Gigi Barker looks a lot like what Hannibal Lecter might use to decorate his family room.

The British designer and founder of design studio 9191 has crafted a material that has the look, feel and — thanks to the addition of after shave to the mix – smell of human flesh. Barker used the pheromone-impregnated silicone base to craft a collection of chairs and footstools, which were modeled after the Rubenesque folds of a man’s stomach. No word on whether you need to moisturize the chairs with lotion to help them keep their luster.

While the chair may make your skin crawl, Barker isn’t just trying to creep out her audience. She believes that the unique material lets people form a physical connection to the piece and allows them the opportunity to examine their relationship to their own skin and other people’s. Plus, the material reacts to bodies and according to Barker, speaking to Wired UK, matches a human’s body temperature, which is “perfect for soothing a crying baby”.

If the concept doesn’t scare you, the price tag might – the combined cost of the chair and stool is over $4,000 (£2,380). That said, Barker’s show at Central Saint Martin’s sold out last month, according to Wired UK, and she’s already in talks with retailers.

Courtesy Gigi Barker

MORE: Sweden’s ‘Hannibal Lecter’ is Set Free

MORE: Ikea’s Chinese Stores Invite Customers to Take a Snooze

TIME society

These Awesome Photos of People Emerging From a Water Slide Capture the Essence of Summer

Krista Long

Simply titled “I Love Summer,” this series of high-speed photographs focuses on the specific — and, it turns out, highly captivating — experience of bursting out of a water slide.

Krista Long, a clinical social worker from Des Moines, Iowa, came up with the idea for the series last summer after spending time with her kids at a local pool. She found herself entertained for hours watching people emerge from the water slide, one by one, each with comically distinct facial expressions and body contortions. As a photography enthusiast, she began to think, Hey, this would be a great subject.

“I love how people’s emotion right before they splash down is either total excitement or fear or cringing,” Long says. “So I just really wanted to capture that moment.”

Capturing that moment, however, took a healthy dose of trial and error. After plenty of goof ups, Long eventually learned how to get her framing and timing just right. She also learned how to use Photoshop to add a black background, making the subjects and the water droplets stand out.

Ultimately, what Long says she hopes to convey here is that fun, carefree feeling so many of us enjoy in the longer, lazier days of summer.

“We just came off of the worst winter, and I know in many areas of the United States it was horrendous,” Long says. “It was so cold, it was so frozen, it lasted forever. I just thought, you know what, this really does capture just how wonderful it is to be enjoying summertime.”

Below are some of our favorite shots. Head over to Flickr to see more.

Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long
Krista Long

 

TIME celebrity

From Kim’s Butt to Angelina’s Lips: The Plastic Surgery Procedures Women Want

Valentino : Front Row  - Paris Fashion Week : Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015
Jacopo Raule—WireImage/Getty Images

According to data from a popular online cosmetic surgery community

Remember the woman who spent $30,000 to look like Kim Kardashian? Well, she’s certainly not the only person who has spent serious time and money t0 look like a celebrity — and Kim in particular. In fact, for women seeking cosmetic surgery, Kim’s butt is the most requested celebrity feature, according to data from RealSelf.com, an online community where users come together to discuss plastic surgery procedures.

To determine which celebrity features are most popular, RealSelf scanned all its content pages to see which names users are mentioning the most when inquiring about procedures. So in other words, this data is more anecdotal than scientific, says Alicia Nakamoto, vice president of community at RealSelf.

To get a derrière like Kim’s, most women opt for the the Brazilian Butt Lift, which is a procedure that takes fat from one part of the body (like the abdomen, thighs or arms) and transfers it to the buttocks. The average cost is $6,725.

After Kim, here are the other most popular celebrity mentions of 2014, along with the corresponding body part or procedure:

  • Beyoncé – butt
  • Madonna – face and hands (anti-aging)
  • Angelina Jolie – cheeks, lips
  • Rihanna – skin lightening
  • Jennifer Lawrence – nose
  • Jennifer Lopez – butt
  • Kate Middleton – nose, smile
  • Julia Roberts – lips, smile

Every once in a while, a key moment in pop culture will cause a spike in celebrity requests. When Maleficent hit theaters, for example, more women began inquiring about Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones. When Snooki was popular (remember those days?) and got some work done to her teeth, people began asking about getting theirs as white as hers. And when Krista from The Bachelorette underwent a post-natal “mommy makover,” a surge of women began expressing interest in the procedure as well.

But for the most part, the majority of people discussing plastic surgery on RealSelf don’t reference specific famous people at all.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people do not want to look like a celebrity,” Nakamoto says. “They just want to fix something very personal and go on with their lives feeling more confident with themselves.”

TIME nation

First Recreational Marijuana Legally Sold in Seattle Donated to Museum

In this July 8, 2014, file photo, Deb Greene, 65, Cannabis City's first customer, displays her purchase of legal recreational marijuana at the store in Seattle. Elaine Thompson – AP

A marijuana milestone saved for posterity

The first marijuana sold for recreational purposes in Seattle is being donated to the city’s Museum of History and Industry, the Associated Press reports.

Deb Greene, a 65-year old grandmother, purchased it at the store Cannabis City on July 8, when the state’s first legal, recreational marijuana stores opened. The retiree brought “a chair, sleeping bag, food, water and a 930-page book” so she could camp out overnight and be the first in line, the AP reported at the time.

She purchased two bags of legal weed, one for personal use and another that was signed by Cannabis City owner, James Lathrop, so it could be “saved forever,” Greene told the Seattle Times. “You don’t use history.”

As Greene told the Puget Sound Business Journal, “I wanted to be a part of this, this is part of the history of our city.”

MORE: The Rules About Pot Just Changed in Washington D.C.

MORE: House Votes to Help Pot Businesses Use Banks

TIME society

What I Learned as a Woman at a Men’s-Rights Conference

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Don Bayley—Getty Images

I went to the conference in suburban Detroit expecting a group of feminist-hating Internet trolls; I found much more

Detroit once epitomized the possibilities of the American Dream: as the hub of the U.S. auto industry, money, power and a sense of virility seemed available to the men who worked hard enough, in factories and in boardrooms, to attain them. Now the city is a husk, and as the jobs trickled into other places, so too did the feeling that the only obstacle separating men and power was their own effort. Once a stronghold of American influence, the city of Detroit is now shorthand for decline and bankruptcy. It makes some sense, then, that the International Conference on Men’s Issues, a gathering staged to raise alarm against what its organizers describe as rising discrimination against men, chose the city for its inaugural meeting the last weekend of June.

For this passionate set, the leaders of what has become known as the men’s-rights movement, Detroit’s losses mirror their own sense of what they see as men’s flagging influence. Sure, women may have once been unequal, they say, but not anymore and not by a long shot.

As a journalist who thinks and writes frequently about women’s issues, I’m well acquainted with the darker side of the men’s-rights movement, which rears its ugly head in “the manosphere” and on Reddit forums, shielded by a comforting cloak of anonymity. And though I’ve never tackled its existence specifically in any story, I knew what some men’s-rights activists had done to women who had — launching large-scale rage campaigns full of name-calling, threats and crusades to get them fired. When I went to Detroit, I expected the men who attended this conference to not be thrilled with my presence — and many made clear that they weren’t — and to make provocative statements about “the myth of rape culture” and even to smoke a lot of e-cigarettes.

But what I didn’t expect was how it would make me feel: sad and angry and helpless and determined, all at the same time. Moreover, I didn’t expect to talk to so many men in genuine need of a movement that supports them, a movement that looks completely different from the one that had fomented online and was stoked by many who spoke at this three-day conference.

The event came at a time when attention for its supporters’ ideas are rising beyond the Internet’s fringe. And while nearly every corner of the web is now home to discussion of the state of feminism today, with anyone from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to Beyoncé participating, a countermovement is growing. Nearly 150,000 people subscribe to forums dedicated to men’s rights on the social-media site Reddit. A recent Saturday Night Live sketch starring Lena Dunham attacked their beliefs. And in May, these views came under greater scrutiny following the murders committed in Isla Vista, Calif., by Elliot Rodger, whose views of women matched those found in the extreme corners of the men’s-rights movement.

Beneath the vitriol and fear these men (and a small number of women) express are some truths about the state of men today. In a growing number of ways, boys and men are at a disadvantage. Men and women were hit unevenly by the recession. Women recovered job losses this spring. Men did not. Women are outpacing men in college enrollment, with 71% of women enrolling in a university immediately after high school, compared with only 61% of men, a 2012 Pew Research Center survey found. The suicide rate among men is four times the rate of women, with males accounting for 79% of all U.S. suicides, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Frequently boys do not have the same support network as girls their age (the cost of this deficit was detailed by Rosalind Wiseman in TIME last December).

And yet despite these real troubles, the leaders of the movement have been unable to move beyond a reputation for hate. Its most influential online gathering place, the website A Voice for Men, founded in 2009 by Paul Elam, who led the June conference, has been described as “misogynist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alabama nonprofit that tracks hate groups. In addition to purporting to “expose misandry on all levels in our culture,” the site is also frequently a soapbox for Elam to attack individual women he feels are threats to the movement.

Elam and nearly 150 supporters came to Detroit, then, to increase awareness of their cause, but also to try a little rebranding. Perhaps by organizing an official conference, they could make their movement more palatable to outsiders.

“Men’s rights is a tougher-than-necessary fight in a world that believes that men made the rules and have all the rights to begin with,” said Dr. Warren Farrell, an author and Elam’s mentor, who addressed the conference. “It’s like asking for kings’ rights.”

Beginning a Movement
Dr. Warren Farrell did not start the movement himself, but he’s been an icon for believers since the 1970s when two distinct camps of men’s activists began to emerge, one pro-feminist and one anti-feminist. The men’s-rights movement represented at the Detroit conference has its roots in anti-feminist, pro-masculine movements that ripened in the early 1980s. Farrell, once a prominent second-wave feminist who served on the board for New York’s National Organization for Women and was tasked with creating feminist groups for men, became disillusioned in the mid-1970s when NOW opposed “the presumption of joint custody” for parents. Since then, Farrell has focused primarily on men’s gender issues, writing the best seller The Myth of Male Power in 1993, which challenged the notion that men are oppressors.

Many of the men active in the movement seem to have been drawn there through their own harrowing personal experiences, whether with divorce courts that stripped them of custody or ex-wives who cheated. Born into a military family, Elam worked as an addiction counselor for 20 years, before becoming disenchanted with the academic direction of psychological treatment and what he saw as a feminist overhaul of psychotherapy.

Elam quit his job and spent time as a truck driver before starting A Voice for Men in 2009. The site launched just as the global recession was peaking, leaving many men out of work and struggling to reconcile their identities outside the role of primary breadwinner. Early on, notes Dr. Julie T. Woods, a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has written several texts about gender and culture, the 2008 recession was called the “mancession” because many more men than women became unemployed.

“I think you’re hearing real anxiety about not being able to fulfill this basic commandment of manhood as they define it,” Wood says.

This angst was palpable in Farrell’s remarks during the press conference. “Women don’t marry men in unemployment lines,” he said. The audience nodded in agreement.

Today, Farrell’s concerns are not just financial. He speaks in favor of developing a male birth control pill, establishing better programs to care for veterans and helping boys struggling through adolescence. His allies rally against what they see as rampant paternity fraud (when a woman attempts to pin paternity on the nonbiological father of her child with the hopes of getting child support), a biased court system that favors mothers over fathers, soaring male suicide rates and prominence of domestic violence against men.

Women, they say, have distorted private life and taken over public life (never mind that 4 out of 5 Representatives in Congress or 9 out of 10 governors are male).

“Legislation is routinely drafted to advantage women and disadvantage men,” said British activist Mike Buchanan, later adding, “Boys are being relentlessly disadvantaged by an ever more feminized education system.”

Despite a shared feeling of disenfranchisement, most of the attendees I spoke with struggled to recall a time in their lives when they were discriminated against for being men. When asked, two different attendees mentioned losing out to a woman for a job opportunity, though one conceded that she could have simply been more qualified.

Some of the men at the conference said they were drawn to the movement after alarming personal experiences caused them to realize there were far fewer resources for men’s emotional and physical health than there were for women.

Brendan Rex, a 28-year-old who flew down from Manitoba, Canada, to attend the event, confided that he lost his virginity at the age of 14 when a woman climbed on top of him and had sex with him while he was drunk and unconscious.

“It kind of took me a few years to come to terms with the concept that I had nowhere to go,” Rex said. “Then about six years ago I kind of realized that there were a lot of other people like me; it’s not uncommon for men to be sexually abused, it’s not uncommon for men to be sexually abused by women. But because there’s this lack of knowledge, there’s this lack of community — you’re completely isolated. You have no one to talk to who understands this.”

‘Evil Empire’
Throughout the three-day event, the specter of feminism, or what British domestic-violence activist Erin Pizzey called “the evil empire,” loomed large, threatening to rip children from their fathers, lobby false rape accusations and remind men that in parenting, work and war they are forever disposable. (The movement includes a small fraction of women dedicated to the same mission.)

A palpable distaste for women seeped between the cracks of the conference, in comical asides and throwaway comments. When the conference’s M.C., Robert O’Hara, asked a woman in the audience a question and she responded with a no, he quickly shot back “Doesn’t no mean yes?” The audience burst into laughter.

During another panel, psychologist Tara Palmatier cued up a slide with a photo of Miley Cyrus displaying her naked stomach. Transposed atop it was the caption, “Quit objectifying me. You’re being rapey!” a clear nod to the belief that a woman’s attire and behavior are causal factors of sexual assault.

Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian radio host, blamed mothers for the violent behavior of men.

Molyneux said that because 90% of a child’s brain is formed by the experiences it has before the age of 5, and women have “an almost universal control over childhood,” violence exists in the world because of the way women treat children.

“If we could just get people to be nice to their babies for five years straight, that would be it for war, drug abuse, addiction, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases,” he said. “Almost all would be completely eliminated, because they all arise from dysfunctional early childhood experiences, which are all run by women.”

Dr. Jay Giedd, who serves as chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Unit on Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch, said that he didn’t think this idea “could be more wrong.”

Though a child’s brain reaches 90% of its size by age 5, that doesn’t mean it’s done developing. “Almost nothing is set in the first five years or even in the first 10,” he said. “There’s no scientific support for these claims.”

At Elam’s request, the majority of the speakers were noticeably less anti-woman in person than many are in their writings or speeches elsewhere. A recording from Molyneux’s radio show from January posted to YouTube with the title “The Matriarchal Lineage of Corruption” reveals the full extent of his thinking.


(Warning: NSFW material)

“Women who choose a–holes guarantee child abuse,” he says. “All the cold-hearted jerks who run the world came out of the vaginas of women who married a–holes. I don’t know how to make the world a better place without holding women accountable for choosing a–holes.”

“Women worship at the feet of the devil and wonder why the world is evil,” he adds later. “And then know what they say? ‘We’re victims!’”

The movement is quick to disavow the concept of misogyny and instead direct attention to so-called Honey Badgers, a handful of women who support the cause. When I introduced myself as a reporter to two men sitting in the audience during the first day of the conference, one attempted to predict my first question by saying, “Do I hate women? No.”

Still, being surrounded by men who belly-laughed at rape jokes and pinned evil elements of human nature wholesale on women was emotionally taxing at best and self-destructive at worst. Once, during a particularly upsetting segment of the program, I had to excuse myself from the auditorium to seek refuge on the bug-filled bank of Lake St. Clair. I kept wondering why I had volunteered to fly 600 miles to attend the conference alone, to surround myself not just with crass ideological opponents, but with people with violent Internet histories who believed my very existence oppressed them. But to emerge on the other side of this with both my sanity and a worthwhile story, I would have to actually adopt a grain of their advice. I would have to stop feeling like a victim, and in turn cast aside all of the humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences I had collected as a woman.

Online Intimidation
For the most part, the conference tried to display the gentler side of the movement, one that embraces activism for significant men’s issues. Its organizers are aware of the fact that it would tarnish their authority to allow misogyny to overshadow their policy prescriptions to help real problems that affect men.

Days before the event began, Elam published a warning post on A Voice for Men saying that some ideological opponents and members of the media “will be looking for anything they can to hurt us with,” so anyone caught trash-talking women would be ejected from the conference.

For Elam, who once created a website called Register-Her, which encouraged men to name and shame women who supposedly made false rape allegations, shifting to a less polarizing agenda would mean a powerful change of heart. Elam has since shuttered Register-Her, and at the conference spoke of working to “build bridges between men and women instead of walls.”

“I find it hard to believe that this is Saul on the road to Damascus,” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “that Elam has really had an entire personality change.”

Though in person the activists worked hard to coat their message in a kinder, press-friendly sheen, the conference had barely been over for a day before Elam published a post to A Voice for Men taking issue with my tweets during the conference, which made clear that I was upset by many of the sentiments expressed.

In the post, Elam called me a “low rent hack” who “practiced journalistic scumtardery,” a “liar and a bigot [who] will be exposed.” He titled the post “An Amazing, Amazing Conference, Even With the Stink of Jessica Roy in the Air.” Those who tweeted at me following the publication of the post minced fewer words.

It seemed the perfect example of the fact that though the movement was attempting to put a polite face on in public, they still continue to harass and intimidate online. (Though they adopted similarly skeptical attitudes, none of the male reporters who tweeted or wrote about the event were subject to similar treatment.)

Elam says that being satirical and controversial is his way of drawing attention to the message.

When you talk to someone like 68-year-old Steve DeLuca, the legitimate need to remedy some of the issues raised by men’s-rights activists becomes more evident. A Vietnam veteran who was injured in combat, DeLuca spoke movingly to me about the two brothers he lost to suicide, and the unfathomable toll the high suicide rate among men can take. There are men out there, like DeLuca and Brendan Rex, who have a real stake in the movement’s success. The paranoia and vitriol of its leaders can’t possibly do anything for them.

Update: This original story has been updated to clarify comments from Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

TIME society

A Sky-High View of Sunbathers

As Tropical Storm Arthur threatens to ruin July 4th beach plans, here's a look at people enjoying ideal beach day weather

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