By now most people will have seen the news that an international ‘tribal meeting’ for followers of Roosh V, real name Daryush Valizadeh, will take place this coming Saturday night.
Valizadeh – all round shitebag and misogynist extraodinaire – has self-published 15 books in which he claims to advise men on how to ‘pick up women’. They feature racial stereotypes and discuss scenarios in which he has bullied and coerced women under the influence of alcohol into having sex with him. He encourages his readers to do the same. In an article titled ‘How to stop rape’ written in February of last year, Valizadeh advocates for the legalisation of rape on private property, claiming that if a woman has consented to enter a man’s house she has also consented to sexual intercourse with him. Though Valizadeh himself will not be in the country this Saturday, the meetings that are to take place in his name will surely propagate this violent thinking and reinforce these misogynistic ideals that, shamefully, so many men in our country still subscribe to.
In response to the news that one such ‘tribal meeting’ will be taking place in Glasgow, a spokesperson for the council said: “This group does not have permission to use George Square for an event and never will. It certainly does not have any right to tell women to not enter the Square. Any threats made against the public are a matter for police.” However, although the council has not granted permission for the meeting to take place, they do not have the power to ban meetings from taking place in public areas.
As you can guess, people are pretty fucking angry that these meetings are going ahead, and there has been a huge outcry online. A petition calling on the Scottish government to ‘stop Roosh V being allowed to promote his hateful violent views in our cities’ has reached over 30 thousand signatures at the time of writing. Peaceful counter-protests are being planned in both Glasgow and Edinburgh to take place on Saturday night at the same time as the original events.
In a statement on his website concerning the events planned for this weekend, Valizadeh writes that: ‘Up to now, the enemy has been able to exert their power by isolating us and attacking with shrieking mobs, but we’ll be able to neutralise that tactic by amassing in high numbers come February 6. I will exact furious retribution upon anyone who challenges you in public on that date (remember to record them). Therefore let the sixth of February be a clear signal to all that we’re not going anywhere. We have finally arrived.’ People are angry then, but also understandably feeling helpless. Events such as these are a manifestation of the misogynistic attitudes that women face every day, day in day out. When concentrated into an event such as this, the world can seem like a pretty grim place.
So what can we do in the face of this deluded, dangerous sexism? First off, there are short term measures: sign the petition, protest on Saturday night. If you feel unsafe protesting, write to your MSP so that it’s raised at First Minister’s Questions. Look to work being done by organisations such as Rape Crisis Scotland and support them in any way you can – these organisations protect the very women that groups such as Roosh V and his ‘manosphere’ target. From a more long term standpoint, as horrifying as events such as these are, they should also be seen as an opportunity to begin long overdue discussions about the way women are treated and viewed in our society – discussion with friends and family, in government, in schools should all be encouraged. Show your support for feminism, pull people up when they make ignorant comments and take a stand in your own little way.
We will only truly be free of sexism when all corners of society are thoroughly educated in issues of rights and consent. It’s an all too familiar problem encountered by women not only in this country, but all over the world. It can range from stupid jokes to catcalls and being groped on a night out, to rape and even to death. It is not something to be tolerated; it is something which needs to be fought on all levels.
Essentially, treat Roosh V and his ‘fans’ like a tumour that requires immediate action but also a more long term treatment to prevent it from resurfacing. The meetings taking place on Saturday are both a symptom and a cause of the ingrained attitudes that cause so much damage, and until attitudes such as the ones these men promote are completely eradicated from the ground up, there is always a risk that they will come back.
[Louisa Burden – @burdisthew0rd]