Controversial ‘pickup artist’ and men’s rights activist Roosh V has organised meetings for his readers and followers in Glasgow and Edinburgh this Saturday. V has gained a following through his website ‘Return of Kings’. Supposedly advising men on how to pick up women, it mostly seems to be a place where Roosh and friends share their misogynist, racist and homophobic opinions with the world; recent articles include ‘The Decline of Western Women is Complete’, ‘Hilary Clinton’s Socialist Manifesto Shows Why Women Shouldn’t be Involved In Politics’ and one titled ‘Four Colossal Lies That Men Have Been Told Since Birth’ which begins ‘1. Men and Women are Equal’. He once wrote an article suggesting that rape should be legal if committed on private property.
Only heterosexual men are allowed to attend these meetings; any women trying to attend or protest will be filmed and the footage will be posted online to his ‘worldwide anti-feminist network’ who will ‘exact furious retribution’. A Facebook event for a counter-protest already has over 1,700 attendees.
The men’s rights activist/’meninist’ movement seems to have been gaining more traction in recent years, or at least gaining more media attention. There was the recent BBC Three documentary ‘Reggie Yates: Men at War’ featuring interviews with prominent men’s rights activists, and the denial of a UK visa to another ‘pick up-artist’, Julian Blanc, for remarks encouraging sexual assault in 2014.
One word that Roosh V uses particularly frequently is ‘anti-feminist’, and ‘men’s rights’ activism seems to be more about reducing the status of women than uplifting men. A very common narrative among oppressive groups is that they’re the ones who are really oppressed – Donald Trump supporters honestly believe they have it the hardest in America because they occasionally hear someone speaking Spanish. Roosh V and his followers see the recent rise of feminism in the public eye – of women asking for equal pay, abortion rights, an end to harassment and rape – as the worst thing to happen not only to society, but to them personally. These men long for the good old days, when men were men and women were the legal property of their fathers or husbands.
The crux of the meninist argument seems to be that men are entitled to women; men are entitled to sex with women, men are entitled to women who make themselves look good for them, submit to them, and structure their lives around the interests of men. The oppression that meninists believe they suffer seems to be that women aren’t obliged to have sex with them whenever they want, and that women who they don’t find attractive exist. Most of Roosh V’s arguments against feminists don’t even discuss any feminist beliefs – they just point out features of them that they find unattractive. When Scottish MPs tweeted about opposing the planned meet-ups he called a female MP ‘repulsive’ and said she should ‘get a beauty makeover’, and referred to a male MP with a transphobic slur. A large volume of his articles simply list features of women that he doesn’t personally find attractive – taking selfies, colourful hair and having opinions seem to be what offend him the most – apparently unaware that the women of the world do not dress and live for his benefit.
The website advertising the event says it allows men to ‘come out of the shadows and not have to hide behind a computer screen for fear of retaliation’ – there seems to be a very real persecution complex within meninist circles, an idea that their beliefs put them at great risk of harm. The reality is that the risk involved in being a man who hates women is heinously low. Almost any woman you speak to will have a story about being groped in public, harassed, catcalled, followed home, assaulted. Almost none of these incidents are ever reported – we always dismiss them, say they’re not serious enough, know the police won’t take them seriously. Claiming to fear retaliation for their beliefs rings rather hollow when it is followed by threats to ‘exact furious retribution’ against any woman who disrupts their event. Despite claiming to be persecuted for their beliefs, they still know who really holds the power.
Movements in politics, culture and society almost always lead to another movement pushing in the opposite direction. The recent rise of feminism in the public eye has unfortunately given rise to a group of men who feel that an increase in women’s autonomy is a slight upon their own. To these men, the loss of a small amount of their power feels equal to the oppression that women have faced for… all of time, basically. The goal of Roosh V is not, as he claims, the restoration of masculinity, but the subjugation of women.
[Clare Patterson – @clurrpatterson]