Content warning: rape apology, misogyny
Self-styled “pickup artist” and documented rape apologist Roosh Valizadeh has withdrawn public details for planned Saturday meetings in Edinburgh and other locations, following backlash on campus and around the world.
In a statement on his website, Valizadeh, known by the moniker Roosh V, said that he was “moving to save” some of the planned worldwide meetings by removing location information and posting email addresses for supporters to learn locations. Edinburgh was among several cities “threatened with protest”, which also included London, Leeds, and Manchester.
The new email measures also include a tighter screening process for interested supporters, according to the website. Potential attendees will now need to email proof of longstanding support to Valizadeh’s movement, such as screenshots of “non hater” comments made on his website before 15 January, or a receipt proving purchase of one his books dating before 15 January. The precautions were presumably established to eliminate infiltration.
Valizadeh, 36, is the owner of the inflammatory website Return of Kings and proponent of the self-described neomasculinity movement. The movement has come under fire for espousing misogynistic principles such as that “a woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty,” while “a man’s value significantly depends on his resources, intellect, and character”, as well as encouraging men to act violent to attract women.
In February 2015, Valizadeh was condemned for a blog post that advocated legalising rape on private property, proposing that consent be achieved “the moment [a woman] passes underneath the room’s door frame” at which point “a man can legally do anything he wants to her when it comes to sex.”
The meeting in Edinburgh is part of a broader collection of 165 simultaneous meetings around the world, in what Valizadeh’s website has billed “the start of fixed and regular meetups that serve men in their local communities”.
It was originally scheduled to take place at 8pm in Grassmarket Square. But the event was quickly rebuked by students and citizens within the city for its misogynist origins. Edinburgh University Feminist Society organised a march to protest the event that attracted over 400 attendees on Facebook, calling on supporters to “stand up and show that sexism, misogyny and most definitely rape are NEVER tolerated.”
A subsequent petition to the Scottish Government to prevent the meetings from taking place on the grounds that they would “make our cities unsafe” has accumulated over 50,000 signatures.
In a vitriolic post announcing his decision to make the meetings private, Valizadeh directly acknowledged the impact the planned protests had had.
“The world is moving against us,” the post read. “I’ve gotten reports of over a dozen organized protests at our meeting points.”
Valizadeh continued: “Since this meetup was never intended as a confrontation with unattractive women and their enablers, I’m moving to save as many of these meetups as I can before Saturday so that men can still meet in private away from a loud, obnoxious, dishonest, and potentially violent mob.”
Responding to the development, Maia Almeida-Amir, Campaigns Organiser for the Feminist Society, said the rally would go ahead as planned.
“We’re still going ahead with the protest – it will serve a double-purpose of making women in the area aware of the danger these men pose,” she told The Student.
“Hopefully, it will also keep up the pressure on local pubs and bars to deny the meeting entry. While it is frustrating that we won’t be able to oppose them directly, I’m glad that we’ve made it clear that misogynists and rape apologists aren’t welcome in Edinburgh.”
Representatives for Roosh V in Edinburgh had not responded to queries from The Student at time of press.
This is a developing news story. More to follow.
Image: David McKelvey