>CONTENT NOTE: RAPE, PRO RAPE ACTIVISM, MEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS<<
UPDATE Thursday 4th February; Valizadeh has publicly called off all of the global Return of Kings meetings he organised for this Saturday. Some of them may, of course, still be going ahead at the re-scheduled secret locations of which only long-time supporter-members have been apprised (plus, of course, some possible infiltrators who found a way around the ‘protocol’ and managed to pass themselves off as veteran creeps). But who cares? Recruitment has definitely been blocked. This is great news. Note, the meetings were originally intended to be self-importantly club-like, not secret, but a global feminist response first forced them “underground” (lol) and then terrified an overwhelmed, panicking Roosh V (who could not guarantee his followers’ safety) to call the whole thing off. So this is a victory for antifascist counter-mobilisation. The cynical agency-denying hot-takes about this that have been published e.g. at Vice by Matt Broomfield (joke’s on us, he played us! Roosh was just in it for the money!) are simply wrong, and don’t understand how social movements work. Media attention might boost book sales but doesn’t strengthen movements. Victories do.
The proposed meet-up of pro-rape a.k.a. “mens’ rights” activists all over the world on February 6th February 2016 is an attempt by ‘pick-up artist’ Daryush Valizadeh, or Roosh V, to use his minor personality cult to boost a global right-libertarian antifeminist movement. Valizadeh’s call is for a ‘return of kings‘, but his platform is not even “just” for re-instating the formal attributes of historic white male absolute sovereignty over a sex-class whose members could be owned and controlled as chattel. He is for the Ayn Rand fantasy of capitalism, and he is for a kind of fascism: all real men are rapists, in his worldview, and should be empowered to be so; people on welfare should be dead; real men should ‘marry off’ their daughters very very young, so as (no irony detectable here) to protect them from other men’s violation. Etcetera etcetera.
A child could instinctively fill in the rest of the Roosh V agenda because – guess what – it’s not an iconoclastic or a subversive or even a particularly egregious take on gender. Rather, his brand aggressively repackages an everyday ressentiment-fueled hegemonic logic we encounter at every level of life in capitalist heteropatriarchies, from courts to cuts to blowback against campus consent classes. At the same time, his fascoid proposals resonate within Pegida, Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Donald Trump camp. So I think there’s a case to be made that Roosh V’s Return of Kings launch deserves a response of the same calibre received by the extremely bloody January fascist mobilisation in Dover, UK, thanks to the excellent counter-mobilisation efforts of (primarily) the Anti-Fascist Network (AFN). This involved a “barrage of bricks”.
Valizadeh is a person who thinks that he has been historically emasculated and oppressed by feminism and that one example of this is the social requirement that he wash his clothes and “wipe [his] ass thoroughly”. So it’s legitimate to ask: why bother with him? Well, Valizadeh’s stated rationale for legalizing rape is obscene, sociopathic, but it (sort of) expresses a core fantasy associated with private property under neoliberalism. That’s something about it I think might be worth people dwelling on for a second. I don’t want to link to it so I’m going to paraphrase: rape, he says, should be legalized on private property, so that (a) women, to avoid rape, will learn how to, er, never go into the private properties of men they don’t trust; and (b) women, if they’re ever being dragged towards the lair of a predator, will put up a massive fight while still within earshot of the public sphere, thus guaranteeing that someone (law enforcement) is guaranteed to intervene.
It’s a jolly old bad faith attempt to disguise the view that women should be raped as much as possible as a policy suggestion for minimizing rape. Such doublethink is in itself nothing out of the ordinary in a world full of wars for peace, jails for justice, and forced evictions for prosperity. While, obviously, everything fundamental about that position is wrong, he recognizes the truth (from the wrong side) that the state disempowers women; that it does not keep women safe from sexual violence. That Roosh’s modest proposal hinges entirely on the state-backed shibboleth of private property is merely one of the inherent banal contradictions in American libertarianism.
But it does something other than paradoxical piss-taking and gas-lighting, too: it re-casts the ‘private’ and domestic sphere in a very neoliberal way as a gender-neutral unit for the individual. In this imaginary, homes are isolating venues for a myth of rugged individual autonomy, rather than one of the key sites in which women generally cohabit with others as they reproduce the world with their care work. In reality, of course, women and children are by default, more than by consent, in close proximity to men within buildings because, for one thing, the latter two categories begin life inside the very entrails of the former.
In Rooshworld, every man has his own man-pad. (Maybe women, whose ownership of private property isn’t envisioned, do live collectively – presumably all together in a moated sorority house. It’s unclear.) So, even though Roosh probably employs several cleaners, who are probably women of colour, he doesn’t try to re-affirm an elementary sub-component of the capitalist economy, the private home, as the precinct of a patriarch under whom a gendered subordinate’s (invisible) labour of social reproduction takes place (cleaning, cooking, raising kids, comforting/fucking the husband…). Instead, he implicitly re-genders or rather de-genders private space purely as a surface for consumption (of snacks, of “holes”…). The author of the Bang series envisions the domain of his most unfettered freedom from women to be his own (hopefully flammable) privately owned home address, because of his ability to erase women’s humanity completely within that domain. He models, for the men who follow him, a lonely, angry ‘neomasculinist’ king in his castle (which must be very good for the service economy).
But his suggestion that, if we want to avoid violence, we abstain completely from entering men’s private property, isn’t a bad utopian demand, at the end of the day. (I also support the related male separatists MGTOW – Men Going Their Own Way – for this reason.)
In many ways Return of Kings is mere backlash, a tantrum-like symptom of an old-school man’s world in terminal decline. In others, however, it operates as a neoliberal gamer’s innovation that combines feudal and fascist-futurist elements and poses a pretty credible threat to the already vulnerable and precarious victims of economically-enabled domestic violence (see Sisters Uncut). RoK believe themselves (of course) to be censored and persecuted; Valizadeh has issued a protocol for taking the 100+ meetings on Saturday underground. So: cis-het passing men, this is your opportunity to earn your cookies by transferring the labour of fighting male supremacy onto your own shoulders for a minute. Sign up and infiltrate the meetings. Organise for maximum impact. Consult and get directions from your local feminist group protesting the meeting, but do the difficult work yourselves. Go undercover. Smash, disrupt, expose the pro-rape movement.
Knowledge of Roosh V’s minions congregating in my city on Saturday successfully spurred me to want to add these points to the excellent deluge of analysis combating them in print: notably Katie Baker and Eleanor Robertson. I started this post thinking I would keep it shorter even than it’s become. So let me end here. I would like to know what Valizadeh thinks he consents to when he voluntarily enters a private room with his class enemy (me, for example). And, given his desire to legalize violence in ‘private’ space, would he waive the right to the kind of rights and state protections white people (especially) enjoy against murder? If not legal, is it wrong to murder Roosh V in a private room?