CW: rape, sexual assault, harassment (online/offline), rape culture, doxxing, misogyny (in article and in external links). Please make sure you take whatever form of self-care you need.
Rape culture is well and truly alive and with us, embodied in human form not least by abhorrent “pick-up artist” Roosh V. Roosh has been around for a while, forming his career in the nest of a blog he wrote about his attempts to have sex with women, which has since led to him writing full time about how to have sex with women in different countries and other mostly misogynist and anti-feminist content. He preaches heteronormative reproductive roles for men and women, is against women’s promiscuity and sexual choice, and also campaigns for rape to be made legal “on private property”. That would make Roosh V a rape advocate. Yes, this is the kind of disgusting man we are dealing with. And this man has followers, for whom he has organised international meet-ups (for heterosexual men only, by the way) on this coming Saturday, February 6th, at 20.00 local time in various locations, including in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh and in George Square in Glasgow.
I first heard about Roosh V when a petition started going round some months ago condemning the sale of his self-published “guides” as primers on how to rape women and asking them to be pulled off Amazon. The information in the petition is definitely enough to convince anyone that this man should not be published, and, if you are interested, this comment highlights in more detail what Roosh gets up to and gets his followers to do. I got curious and had some time to kill, and since I am a Ukrainian woman, I thought I may as well read his guide to having sex with Ukrainian women (entitled, similarly to his other books, “Bang Ukraine: How to Sleep with Ukrainian Women in Ukraine”) to see how horribly he treats us in a country where women get a very bad deal anyway. I had to close the preview very quickly. His treatment of Ukrainian women as literal objects and his over-generalisations about what kind of terrible place Ukraine is (except for the women, apparently, which is Ukraine’s main redeeming quality in his eyes) was quite enough for me and I had not even got to the sections where he details his escapades. There is, somewhere, a horrible quote about a woman in Ukraine who tries to say no to him mid-sex but he keeps her “in place with his muscles”, afterwards even scolding her for apparently being unfair in asking to stop when he was close to finishing (newsflash: that is completely within anyone’s right because consent can be withdrawn at literally any time). This extract alone embodies everything Roosh V stands for: abuse, patriarchy, male entitlement and the extreme use of women as merely objects for men’s sexual pleasure. It’s heinous.
This stuff is universal in all that he preaches, and he has managed to amass equally misogynistic followers with it too. These followers will be meeting all over the world on Saturday, finding each other with the following “coded” conversation: someone will ask a person they think might be there for the meetup, “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” and if the person is in the know, they will answer, “Yes, it’s right here.” They will then proceed to some secret location at 20.20. We are not sure what they are up to, but judging from some of the comments under the post on Roosh’s website which details the international locations for the meet-ups, it might be safer to stay home or stay as far away from Grassmarket as possible on Saturday night. Roosh’s followers are genuinely dangerous: they have destroyed women’s lives before and no doubt would do it again. Doxxing, harassment online and offline, and indeed rape are tools of the trade for these people to deal with anyone who opposes their outright misogyny and rape culture.
We need to make a stand. There are protests being organised in Edinburgh and Glasgow against Roosh V, his supporters and the wider rape culture which still pervades society today and means our streets and homes are unsafe. You can sign this petition to stop Roosh V’s disgusting views being promoted in Scotland. You also lobby your MSP to support the motion lodged by Christina McKelvie MSP which condemns the misogynistic meetings and calls for more action to be taken against them. You can spread the word among your friends, of all and no genders (especially men: we really need you as allies here, as many women will feel unsafe about going to the protests or speaking openly about this online), about Saturday in Scotland and abroad, telling them to stay safe and stand up to this in any way they feel comfortable.
If you go to the protests, make sure you cover your face as Roosh’s followers may film people to find and harass them later, and categorically do not go alone – send a message to the event administrators if you don’t know anyone and they will be happy to help find you company. There will be a police presence at least in Edinburgh, not only because of this but because of the rugby, but it is worth also taking your own precautions especially as it is not necessarily the case that the police can be trusted. If you are speaking about this online, or indeed doing any activism online, it is always worth making sure all your accounts are secure through two-step logins, unique passwords and so on – here is one handy guide aimed specifically at feminists and there are plenty more online.
I cannot emphasise enough how dangerous and disgusting Roosh V and his followers are for the views they perpetrate, the gross acts they commit, and the tactics they employ to destroy the lives of people who oppose them. Successful “pick-up artists” are not just harmless losers, they are a symbol of rape culture and how for many it is still in any way acceptable to rape women and treat us merely as vassals for the pleasure of men who must give in no matter what. Equally, I cannot emphasise enough how much this blatant misogyny and rape culture needs to be challenged. No matter what action you take, from going to the protests to simply letting your friends know that Saturday may be a very unsafe time for night out, do whatever you can and feel comfortable with to oppose this. Rape, rape advocacy and outright misogyny has no place in our streets, our bars and our homes. No to the disgusting Roosh V and his followers – these spaces are ours, and never, ever theirs!
Image: Bob Simpson, Flickr