On Saturday, in 43 different countries across the world, including Scotland, England and Wales, Pick-up artist Roosh V is organising a day of ‘tribal action’, for heterosexual men only, and with retribution promised to those who oppose him. Mr V himself is thought to be attending a meeting in Washington (DC, not Tyne and Wear), but his followers are all going to meet up and exchange passwords before shuffling off to secret locations. It would be laughable or exciting if it weren’t quite so weird, as is the notion of how they are going to decipher who is hetero enough to join in. We assume they are dealing with fairly primitive notions of sexuality, so perhaps they will just flash a picture of some female anatomy at people and see if their eyes glaze over with lust.
I would suggest that if you know one of these events is happening near you, you might formulate some form of protest. It could be as gentle as you like. Light a candle, do an interpretive dance, stand on a picnic table and sing Tina Turner’s I don’t wanna fight no more.
Do so on behalf of your sister, mother, friend or colleague who doesn’t know how to tell you she was raped, but would appreciate a little solidarity. Not that anyone needs to have been raped to feel outraged by the Roosh V's assertion that rape on private property should be legalised because to be alone with a man is to consent to anything, but these statements do demand a moment of reflection for her predicament.
Roosh V is not responsible for the shame, guilt or fear that keeps her quiet: society has done that all by itself and has been doing it for decades. But what he is trying to do is reverse that precious progress women may have been making to disentangle themselves from victim blaming and the need for silence. The process which goes on behind closed doors with many women you know, like peeling layers off an onion, whether they were attacked in the ‘maniacal alley-way-fashion' Roosh V condemns, or the indifferent, simply dehumanised way he suggests should be legalised.
In threatening those who speak out against him with humiliation and public shaming, Mr V and his friends try to wrap this issue back up, to activate fear in a people who may well have fear instilled in them too hard already. And in shifting the responsibility for rape off men and onto women, they are trying to dump the blame for other people’s crimes back onto shoulders which you have it in your power to stand side by side with. Tell these men that is not ok. Tell them they can keep it.
Of course, there are plenty of people who would argue that we shouldn’t even be giving this man pause for thought. He is not dangerous in the sense that nearly all men will be horrified by him. But there will be a vulnerable and tragic few, the disenfranchised and disempowered, who will lap up his offer of somewhere to squarely lay their feelings of rage, inadequacy and powerlessness, especially if they might get a shag out of it too. And as we know, every nasty bastard who tried to do pretty much anything unpleasant did so by harnessing the anger or insecurities of others. For this reason, I would suggest a showing of No means No is in order.
And having taken one for the team and delved into Mr V’s somewhat toxic ouvre it is all a little more nuanced than I thought, or maybe I am just being steadily brainwashed by him. Halfway through writing this article a man came round to read my gas meter and, I had a terrible time trying to decipher whether or not I had consented to have sex with him by letting him through the door. I actually find myself full of pity: what he is offering his followers is really quite grim. V waxes lyrical and asks “How should we deal with the strong and independent modern woman? We should view them as oil wells that can provide a commodity that healthy men need to function properly: sex.” Our response to this can only be pity surely. You are missing out my friend. In dehumanising women you are dehumanising yourself. You miss out on the fun you could be having with those intelligent, empowered women but also, to confront things in your terms when you reduce sex to this transactional, one-way street, to nuts and bolts and drills and construction sites and all the other strange metaphors you litter you writing with you are almost certainly missing out on what can be the best elements of what you are ‘training’ others to seek.
So on Saturday, when like many others I will take to the streets, I will pause in reflection for all the women, men and children who suffer sexual violence. I will reflect with pride on all the fabulous men and women who unite to say men like Roosh V are not welcome. But I will also stand in celebration, of the enormous and delicious spectrum of sexual experience which is open to us when we embrace each other as empowered, equal human beings. Get out there. Bang a drum and blow a whistle. Or stay at home and light a candle and make love to someone like you mean it. Whatever the free agent that is you feels most comfortable with. And whatever demons you keep or however many layers still need peeling off your onion, revel in the beauty of your personhood and the wonder of not being Roosh V.
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