Silencing Women: Inside the National Coalition for Men

By outing rape accusers, the organization is poisoning the dialogue on campus sexual assault.
By Ted Scheinman ,

(Photo: KreativKolors/Shutterstock)

As the Justice Department investigates 50-odd universities for shrouding rape accusations, we face a major progressive shift in sexual politics on campus. Meanwhile, the National Coalition for Men (NCFM) is toiling to reverse this trend by using male victimhood as a weapon against female accusers. Some state chapters publish headshots of women on a page that reads “false victims”—i.e. where rape reports have been dismissed by a college disciplinary board, or where the sheriff's department isn't buying a woman's story. Harry Crouch, the NCFM president, says his coalition's brief includes helping victims, protecting the falsely accused, and unseating the “men's violence industry.” This last catchphrase is Crouch's way of saying that domestic violence is massively over-reported and that “often the woman initiates violence herself.”

The NCFM also claims it caters to both men and women survivors, though the coalition does not divulge how many women have called upon their services. Down the street from me, the Carolina chapter of NCFM offers a handful of non-emergency services for men in distress, including referrals to MaleDepression.com and to the Men's Health Network, but in fact NCFM Carolinas provides no hotline, nor any direct counseling services. Rather, the site's literature and rhetoric offer legal guidance for accused rapists while also condemning America's “radical feminist” jurisprudence that, by their account, sends thousands of men to prison each year over fraudulent allegations of rape. Naturally, the site continues to publish photographs of women alongside the names and details of these allegedly false accusers. (On principle, we're not linking to the page with the photos.)

NCFM's aim with the photos is somewhat indiscriminate, to say the least, but it is worth examining the ideology and declinist panic behind such organizations. The chief (one might say only) virtue of the NCFM is the transparency of its anger; these manifestos make explicit a type of white male resentment that you can find in any town in America, though usually it has the decency to keep quiet. As one of the more coherent members writes on the message board:

Women should never have been designated as a protected class, because, historically, they have been no more discriminated against because of their sex than men have. Men have a long list of oppressions too, and if we are going to award protected status based on that then men (as a group) should be in line ahead of women. It is time for the “Titanic effect” of chivalry (men relinquishing seats in the lifeboat to women) to be buried in courts of law and all other social institutions. It is past due for all the big feminist lies to end.

The baldness of the organization's ideology also explains why, despite its 501(c)3 status, GOP money-bundlers continue to avoid it. In 2012, Todd Akin's donors ran for safety after the candidate started delivering NCFM-like soundbites. Nonetheless, the coalition's activists are always busy at something. One current project is suing the Selective Service System to force women to enroll.

POSTING PHOTOS OF “FALSE-accusers” is an ugly game, but no one in the media has taken much notice—excepting Alice Wilder, a columnist for the University of North Carolina's Daily Tar Heel. In a short essay this October, “Male Survivors Deserve Better,” Wilder offered a moving argument against the photographs of female victims, observing that an atmosphere of intimidation is an equal disservice to male survivors:

The group’s site hosts a list of “false accusers,” and a UNC student is at the top of the list. There’s an entire page dedicated to UNC, which refers to one student’s case repeatedly. Would you come forward as a survivor if you thought your photo would be posted on NCMC’s site? This group sends a clear message to female survivors on UNC’s campus: If you speak publicly about your assault, you’re next.

Crouch responded himself with an aggressively scattershot double-down:

NCFM and NCFMC do have animosity toward misandric feminists and anyone else whose only interests are hate-based and self-serving at the expense of well well-meaning people.

But to suggest that NCFM or NCFMC have “a clear animosity to anyone who advocates for an end to gender-based violence” is inexcusable and borders on liable [sic].

Elsewhere in the riposte, Crouch derides “non-existent problems, like the [sic] women are only paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns (as Warren Farrell rightly noted, if that’s true why would anyone hire a man).”

Hitherto, my acquaintance with the men's rights movement was largely piecemeal and secondhand—Bill O'Reilly explaining why insurance must cover Viagra but never the pill; smug commentators keening about how we have women's studies “but no men's studies.” (Fellas: If history is written by the victors, we're working with a solid 10,000 years of men's studies across most disciplines.) Moreover, I very much wanted to talk with Crouch—he seemed like a real specimen.

But I also anticipated a rather guarded response when I called him at his office in San Diego. Here was the chief executive of the National Coalition for Men—surely his wisdom would be sugarcoated according to the ancient rules of public relations.

Not so. Crouch and I had a long and frank conversation about collegiate rape, domestic violence, and the propriety of outing accusers by name and photograph. I have abridged a handful of Crouch's quotes but removed nothing from its proper context. In short, what you read below actually came out of his mouth. (If Crouch were to ask me when I was radicalized, it was probably around the 32-minute mark in our conversation.)

Just as Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, Crouch warns us against “women industries” (“I claim the phrase,” he tells me), and against such related cabals as the “divorce industry,” “feminist jurisprudence,” and the “domestic-violence industry” (or “men's violence industry”), by which Crouch means the gleeful demonization and “fraudulent” imprisonment of men who beat their wives. (His argument, if we call it such, is that women frequently initiate violence.)

“It's a whole men's violence industry,” Crouch says. “Nobody gets up in the morning and walks into the kitchen and starts beating their kids. But the men's violence industry would have you believe that of men. They've gotten their tentacles into all aspects of our society. The enormity of the women industry is actually hard to conceptualize.”

Before I could pursue this line of thinking, Crouch continued into strange waters:

Take Ray Rice. You look at the videos, what you're gonna see is that he and his fiancée at the time were in a parking garage, she actually attacks him, she smacks him, hits him on the chest or something. In the elevator she attacks him again. Then this idiot cold-cocked her. Should he have cold-cocked her? No! But all the conversation on the media for 24 hours was how bad he was, nothing she did. As though she didn't participate.

I tried to steady the boat: “But, I mean, that's just playground logic. You realize we're talking about a 200-pound man assaulting a woman less than half his size. Can we really claim self-defense here?”

“You simply can't scapegoat one participant just because he has the penis,” Crouch said. “If a little person without a penis instigates, she will never be accountable for her actions.”

“I still don't understand how you can see this as a fair fight,” I said. “You're actually defending Ray Rice?”

“I'm not saying he's a good guy. But if she hadn't aggravated him, she wouldn't have been hit. They would say that's blaming the victim. But I don't buy it. And anyway football is always happy to put on pink suits to celebrate women. Why can't they have a week, or just one day, where they celebrate men?”

“They sort of celebrate men every day in the NFL though, right?”

“Sure, but the men are taking all the hits, and then the players' wives organize the NFL breast cancer initiative. Shouldn't football participate in Movember, or do something for prostate awareness?”

I agreed about prostate awareness (so does the NFL) and tried to steer our chat back to the topic of campus rape.

“Does rape culture exist?” I asked Crouch.

“This so-called rape crisis situation does not exist. No facts in the universe back this up. They propagandize the whole one in five women will be sexually assaulted by graduation—what does that have to do with college? And think about the way you grew up: Did anyone teach you to go out and rape?”

“I'm not really sure that's what people mean by 'rape culture,' Harry. I think they mean men are enabled and encouraged in certain behaviors, and between alcohol and the Greek system—”

Crouch interrupted.

“Most rapists are serial rapists. It's these extended definitions, that's how they do it. If a penis has to be forcefully inserted into a vagina, everybody can get their head around that. Hold a woman down, force them to have sex. After that, throw away the key, throw 'em off the bridge, I don't care. But sexual assault? That comes next. What even is that? You look up the definition and it could be a whistle or a catcall.”

“Are you sure you're talking about sexual assault? Don't you mean sexual harassment?”

“It's getting to where it's almost interchangeable with sexual harassment. That's the point, is to stretch the definition, to make it elastic; that's why they're changing these terms.”

Crouch shouldered on:

A girl doesn't have any problems with it, and then months later or a year later, something happens and she becomes upset, and she goes and talks to someone in the women's studies department. The way that happens is through the expansions of the definitions. [Radical feminists] control the university campuses. They don't like the way our criminal justice system works off-campus because it requires evidence, testimony, to some degree truth. On college campuses they're simply not interested in those cautions. They're interested in their agenda and ideology.

“Wait, you think the reason universities reserve the right to adjudicate rapes is because they're afraid the courts will be too lenient? Look at the way administrators circle the wagons to keep campus rape arbitration on campus—in the interest of endowments and enrollments and whatever haven't universities traditionally had a strong motive to whitewash rapes?”

After a pause, Crouch, who does not boast experience in college administration, said “no.”

Anyone familiar with college admin will know that many campuses are now working to provide crisis services to male victims as well as female victims. I offered Crouch a few examples and then asked what distinguishes NCFM's approach.

“One of the reasons why men have a hard time coming forward is because of the lack of male-friendly literature and outreach materials,” he said.

“Right. And most universities have unisex response centers, PR campaigns encouraging men to come forward.”

Crouch waved this off. “Look at who's on these committees,” he said. “Someone from interdisciplinary studies, two or three from women's studies, someone from the Title IX office—Jesus they might have 20, 30, 40 officers all of whom are there to protect an ideology, people already predisposed to believe women are good, men are bad. That's the indoctrination.”

“I agree that men have a hard time coming forward, no doubt. But don't you make it harder by putting up the 'false accuser' photos? Doesn't that send a message of intimidation to victims, regardless of gender?”

Again, a rare pause from Crouch. “I hadn't really thought about it. But yeah, I think some of that's probable. But,” he said, finding his usual cadence, “as long as they're gonna put men's photos everywhere and destroy their lives, I have no problem posting the pictures of anyone who falsely accuses somebody. In fact, in my opinion, the pictures aren't big enough.”

Are men sometimes falsely accused? Yes. Does family court tend to favor women in custody battles? Undeniably. But the question NCFM forces you to answer is whether we should reserve our sympathy for innocent men, or for victimized women. This is a false choice, and awfully dangerous. No organization can claim with honesty that it serves victims while concurrently demonizing victims of the opposite, and more at-risk, sex.

NCFM Carolinas has not responded to requests for comment. Their phone number goes to an anonymous voicemail after six rings, and I'm pretty sure no one will ever hear my message.