Denver PrideFest Banned a Men’s Rights Organization From Taking Part

Though Aaron Mello’s men’s rights activism (MRA) organization Rocky Mountain MRA participated in Denver GLBT PrideFest last year, this year, PrideFest’s organizers have asked the group not to return because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) lists some MRAs as “male supremacist hate groups.” Mello claims that he’s being unfairly targeted over the failings of other men’s rights groups, and that Rocky Mountain MRA was formed in opposition those hateful MRA groups.

Men’s rights activists, or MRAs, believe that in modern society, men are punished for their masculinity. MRAs often point to statistics like the high rate of divorced men who lose custody of their children — often due to stereotypes about women being better parents. And we agree, this is a real problem. But, many MRAs conflate issues like that with issues of diversity in entertainment (many MRAs are against it). And many of the loudest voices in the MRA movement are outright misogynistic, calling for violence against women; there’s also crossover between many MRAs and GamerGate and the Incel movement.

It’s this misogyny that led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to label major MRA groups like A Voice for Men (headed by Paul Elam) and Return of Kings (run by Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh) as hate groups.

When disinviting Rocky Mountain MRA to Denver PrideFest, the organizers cited the SPLC’s designation as evidence Aaron Mello’s group was “in direct violation of Denver PrideFest’s nondiscrimination policy in regards to gender identity and expression.” According to the Boulder Weekly, the SPLC specified that it doesn’t consider all men’s rights groups as hate groups, just A Voice for Men and Return of Kings specifically.

aaron mello rocky mountain mra
Aaron Mello, founder of Rocky Mountain MRA

Aaron Mello claims that he founded Rocky Mountain MRA as an antidote to the types of violent rhetoric from groups like A Voice for Men. That said, Rocky Mountain MRA’s website still includes A Voice for Men in its resources list. Mello has contributed to A Voice for Men, but all of his pieces are about nutrition. For the most part, Mello’s articles stick to nutrition facts, however, his first article is peppered with references to “fighting gynocentrism,” “feminist misandry” and praise for Paul Elam, A Voice for Men’s founder.

It’s worth noting that Elam was specifically called out by the SPLC for defending domestic abuse. Elam has also argued that the age of consent should be lowered to the average age of menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation — which usually occurs around age 12). He has also encouraged violence against feminists.

If Mello is correct when he says that “[Rocky Mountain MRA has] an explicit focus of setting ourselves apart from more divisive and inflammatory MRAs,” perhaps he should pay attention to the company he keeps.

Was Denver PrideFest right to ban Aaron Mello and Rocky Mountain MRA? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Featured image of Rocky Mountain MRA at the 2017 Denver PrideFest courtesy of Rocky Mountain MRA