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Richard Paul Evans’ fake news about feminism

It hasn’t been a terrific week for Mormon novelist Richard Paul Evans, author of The Christmas Box and other bestsellers.

First, there were the accusations of sexual harassment, which erupted on Monday. A female author had accused Evans months ago of being overly physical with her last year at FanX, which is the huge annual Comic Con in Salt Lake City. She and numerous other authors, including award-winning Utah writer and fellow Mormon Shannon Hale, complained to FanX about what seems to be a pattern of inappropriate behavior from Evans. (You can read Hale’s overview of how badly FanX has handled the situation here.)

Then, in an effort to defend himself against those charges, Evans was interviewed by KUTV in Salt Lake. He succeeded only in digging himself in deeper.

KUTV reporter Chris Jones framed the clip by saying that “we expected him to maybe be contrite, maybe even offer up an apology . . . what we got was absolutely unexpected.” Here’s what Evans said in the interview:

There is a movement to hurt them [men] . . . There are books written saying, again, that men should be taken out, that they should account for no more than 10% of the population. Well, that makes us men feel like the Jews in Nazi Germany.*

On the specific allegations of sexual harassment, he says:

These [#metoo] trends tend to swing too far the other way, where innocent men are being caught up into it. And we’re in a culture where right now it’s a war on men.

Let me get this straight: A war on men, who are in a similar position to Jews in Nazi Germany?

A feminist agenda that mandates wiping out 90% of the male population?

What. The. Freaking. Hell.

I am a feminist who is reasonably well-read, and I’ve never heard of any kind of feminist plot to kill off 90% of men. So I duly Googled it and found exactly one article about one insane-sounding 22-year-old woman who proposed using genetic manipulation to limit the male species to less than 10% of the world’s population.

So, one utterly outrageous provocateur is, to Evans, a “movement” about which there have been “books written.”

For the record, let’s be clear: actual feminism is not about wiping out men (which, hello, would be disastrous for the entire human race) but about promoting equal opportunity for both men and women.

Full stop. That’s it. And the fact that Evans finds the prospect of equality dangerous—and even compares his situation to that of Jews in Nazi Germany—is pernicious and disturbing.

Yesterday, Evans issued a lukewarm apology of sorts for his comment about Jews.

“That was a very poor comparison though also slightly misunderstood,” he said. “I was referring to the Pre-Holocaust phase when the Jewish people were being unjustly blamed for everything that was wrong in society. Still, having met an amazing Holocaust survivor and hearing of the intense suffering he endured, I’m embarrassed for the comment and offer my sincere apology for such a stupid comparison.”

He should have stopped at “very poor comparison.”

No, the situation of men in America is not like Jews’ experience either before or during the Holocaust. Men are not being “unjustly blamed for everything . . . wrong in society.” Men are not a persecuted minority who are banned from owning businesses, serving in government, attending university, or—much to the point for a writer like Evans—selling their creative work in the form of literature, music, or art. All of those restrictions pertained to German Jews in the 1930s.

The fact that Evans could make a comparison so skewed and absurd is shocking. He actually seems to believe there is a “war on men” in America, and that men are in danger of wholesale annihilation.

The only proof I’ve seen him offer in interviews is to mention the rising tide of male suicide, which is an important point. We should all be concerned about increases in suicide, which have in recent years been particularly sharp among middle-aged males.

Evans has started a men’s group in Utah to reduce male isolation and encourage male support. So far, so good. But his group is not merely a therapy session or a bowling league; it is an organization that aims to make men kings.

“I coronate you to regal power as a warrior,” Evans tells an initiate to “Tribe of Kyngs” at a crowning ceremony.

Now, there are lots of ways to reduce men’s suicide rates. You could encourage them to get professional therapy and medication, for example, something that too many men refuse to do. You could challenge the “macho” culture that discourages men from expressing their deepest fears and feelings. You could even work on passing sensible gun laws, since a majority of men’s suicides happen with firearms.

But no, Evans chooses to work the problem by conferring actual kingship upon men, which is telling. His goal is not for men to have equality but for them to rule, to be designated as lords of all they survey.

I should clarify here that by “men” Evans seems to be talking primarily about “white men,” who are under particular attack, according to him.

“There’s less racism today than there was—unless it’s directed towards white men—there’s less racism today than there was in our parents’ generation,” he said in that ill-fated KUTV interview.

So there you have it. In Evans’s mind the worst kind of racism being perpetrated today is not against African American men, who are being arrested or even killed for Walking While Black; or women of color, who are disproportionately singled out for sexual assault, but against white men.

His “Tribe of Kyngs” has no place for women, but it does offer something white men like Evans feel they deserve above all other human beings: a throne.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

29 Comments

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  • This is absurd. I know several members of the #MeToo movement and they assure me they only want to wipe out 70% of men, 75% tops. After all, they’re not greedy.

    But seriously, folks…

    Evans is employing an age old tactic here and one used by every bully, including the one in the White House. When caught in the act of victimizing, try to deflect by making yourself the victim.

  • You are so right, and in Chapter 2, the Gays are trying to indoctrinate children in “Gay”. Such nonsense.

  • Colored women are “disproportionately singled out for sexual assault” because colored men perpetrate a disproportionate number of rapes.

  • The war on men, the war on Christians, the war on Christianity, the war on people of faith, the war on people of white, the war on easter, the enemies of the omnipotent god, the war on masculinity.

    I don’t know what the word to describe these things would be, except for our feckless leader: fake news.

    All of this is sued to disguised and obfuscate the very real harm done to real people.

  • My take on this guy is he is using the exact, same tactics as Trump uses. You deny deny, lie, lie, and then say something so outrageous, it becomes the topic of conversation. It works for Trump and he gets mormons and other evangelicals to defend him, so Evans figured it should work for him. Entitled white men rule the world.

  • Insanity reigns in this guy’s mind but then again it also reigned in Joe Smith’s mind.

  • Nonsense? But of course. Why would people even get such a notion?

    “We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality … I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach, and expose children to queer sexuality AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.”
    — Daniel Villareal, Queerty columnist, quoted in Lifesite News, 05-08-11. Emphasis his.

    “I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I’m Not a Bit Sorry.”)
    — S. Bear Bergman, (gay activist & children-book author), title of HuffPost article (it’s not a joke, it’s for real), 02-02-16.

  • Because some columnists said it? Is that all you have? Would you like me to quote here the General Authorities racist comments? Or how about we talk about Polyamory and why Joseph married other men’s wives without their knowledge. Then there is this Book of Abraham thing… By these quotes and many more, by your logic, we can conclude the Mormon Church are racists, liars, misogynists and contribute significantly to the youth suicides, particularly in Utah. I have more.

  • First, please note that this isn’t about the Mormon folks. This mess AIN’T the LDS’s fault.

    But the gay activists do want the kids, and these guys are fully media-savvy. No joke.

    Question: How do you persuade a pre-teen? Answer: Show two 13-year-old boys on regular Prime-Time TV, (ABC, no less!) kissing each other. Because pre-teens look up to teens. Sowing bad seeds.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2015/03/04/abc-familys-the-fosters-airs-youngest-ever-gay-kiss-between-two-13-year-old-boys/

  • Gee, there isn’t any bias in that “news” source.

    NOT!

    And this is the real Gay Agenda, because we all follow these two guys whom I’ve never heard of, the the mice followed the Piped Piper.

  • Hmm, Jana, you imagine that your view of feminism is the only feminism there is.
    I seem to recall an episode of hate thy neighbor where there were feminists who wanted a world where women were in charge of EVERYTHING and males are reduced to life support systems for their testicles.

    I don’t know about the writer in question… need to read the accusations against him in detail before taking a side..

  • It would be nice to think that raving paranoids like Evans are fringe phenomena only. Unfortunately, we now know that there are enough paranoids out there to elect a president.

  • Evan’s “war on men, who are in a similar position to Jews in Nazi Germany” makes as much sense as feminists’ regular reference to “The Handmaid’s Tale” — none at all.

  • No use attacking Breitbart; the ABC-TV video doesn’t lie.

    Nobody at ABC or Disney — nobody at all, from the top down — even tried to deny or hide what they were putting on national mainstream network TV. Wide-open sales-pitch.

    They put it in everybody’s faces, including parents, with no take-backs. The gay activists Villareal and Bergman weren’t lying about indoctrinating kids. It’s real.

  • People are simply tying to show anyone (kids or adults) that being gay is normal. According to science, we are born this way. You are the guy who hijacked an article about a Mormon. So yes, this is about Mormon Folks.

  • Imagining a “war on men” is in a way an acknowledgement that many men, perhaps most, have suppressed and wronged women in organized and personal ways. I take it as an admission of guilt, a way of saying, “We have committed the crimes. Now THEY are going to punish us for what we’ve been doing.”

  • Indoctrinating or educating them?
    You advocate indoctrination form an early age. It’s called going to church every Sunday. The only reason many Christians are Christians is because their parents were Christian.
    You advocate indoctrination, though you refer to it as ex-gay therapy, sexual re-orientation therapy, and a host of other euphemisms for snake oil.
    The entire hyper conservative religious world advocates indoctrination whenever they claim that everyone is born heterosexual and cisgendered, everyone needs jesus in their life even when they clearly don’t, and if only you believe the latter,you’ll achieve the former.

  • Wasn’t me who brought up THIS topic in this thread. Me, I was all set to take Riess’ critique at her word, and not post any reply at all.

    Then somebody just had to inject something about gays and kids. Which brought up the above posts. It’s a math equation.

    Indoctrination + Normalization = Families In Trouble.

  • Ah yes. Indoctrinating or educating? Well, Villareal and. Bergman said indoctrinating. (They also said educating, but that was after they got readers’ attention by making clear they’re into indoctrination.)

    But I haven’t called for any ban on indoctrination. You’re right that all sides do indoctrination, including of the kids & youth.

    But since that’s true, there’s NO use of any side saying they ain’t going after the kids, because in fact they ARE. It’s a war, after all.

    Don’t gimme no fake sugar-coated PR talk. Gimme some honest, in-your-face, we-want-war, true-blue indoctrination activists like Bergman and Villareal (and of course, yourself! )

  • If the only reason Christians are Christians is because their parents were Christians, there would appear to be no explanation at all for the rise of Christianity as the dominant religion in the world.

  • My indoctrination, in three sentences: There is nothing wrong, immoral, or unnatural with being gay. Some people are, most people aren’t. Don’t let anyone sell you on the idea that there is something wrong with you as a gay person, or with gay people in general, and that whatever harm inflicted on them is justified.

  • In 1987, the Fox network foisted “Married With Children” onto the American cultural scene and ran it for ten years with Al Bundy trashing women, family life, and any reasonable role for a man in society.

    THEN, Fox brought you Fox News.

    Who gobbled up both of these offerings with glee? Look, Evans is just Al Bundy pretending to be cleaned up. So are all the Trump followers.

    What are feminists to do? Study Bundy. And then woman-splain him back to his fans.

  • We’ve both been honing our respective messages and delivery skills, as would be expected. Calm, caring, and concise (except for those forum-debating occasions when we’re both on the attack, but hey, it is what it is.)

    We both see people’s lives, real people, as being at stake, both youth and adults. And so we seek to speak out and reach them with our respective, opposing messages.

  • If I were Evans bishop, I would have a very serious heart to heart with him about his “Tribe of Kyngs.” In addition to being misogynistic, it seems kind of apostate. That would be in addition to keeping an eye out for claims from the women around him.

  • Pure rubbish. You know what Villareal actually meant, because he was asked to clarify it in the comments immediately below his piece. And at the very least, you checked out his original piece, and not just the LifeSite quote before you came here, right?

    “David Gervais
    Daniel Villarreal: you have used the term recruit as if it meant educate. We get it, but what the haters mean by recruit is entirely different. They use it as code for pedophilia.

    May 13, 2011 at 12:05am

    Daniel
    @David Gervais: When I say recruit, I mean ‘get on our side” and “get to help fight our battles for us.'”

    Of course, the foamy heads at LifeSite wouldn’t include context like this.

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