Dear Zenith News:
Roosh Valizadeh is not a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA). He has said himself, several times, that he is a Pick Up Artist (PUA) not a MRA. His website, ReturnofKings.com, is a PUA website. His article, “How to Stop Rape,” which you asserted is “pro-rape,” is clearly satire. Notice at the top where it’s clearly described as “satirical.” Did you even bother reading it before writing a two-page (front page) article about the “pro-rape Men’s Rights rally” [“Yes, we can...legalize rape?” March 29, 2016]? This is unethical journalism and it’s harmful to a legit human rights movement.
Unlike you, I provide proof to back up my assertions. From the horse’s mouth, Roosh states in aYouTube video entitled “Chat with Roosh V” that he is not a Men’s Rights Activist. The woman interviewing him is Karen Straughan, a Men’s Rights Activist. At 1:30, it starts right off differentiating Roosh V. and other PUAs from the Men’s Rights Movement. If you listen to the whole thing you’ll hear him say, several times, that he is not a MRA.
I’d like to make it clear that I don’t like Roosh. You don’t have to like him either. However, you do have the duty to be honest with what you put in your paper. And the article you wrote, associating the Men’s Rights Movement with the legalization of rape, is dishonest and harmful. I expect you will fix your mistakes.
Aprill Emig replies: First of all, I appreciate your letter and your willingness to print it with a name attached. Most others who disagreed with my assessment of this specific segment of Men’s Rights Activists decided the best response was to anonymously draw boobs on the cover. (Which someone actually did, and I don’t really understand it. Wouldn’t dicks have made more sense? Look how phallic and masculine and unafraid we are! Or am I supposed to be offended by boobs because I’m a feminist? Sorry, guys. Better luck next time.)
But to the letter. You clarify that Roosh Valizadeh identifies as a pick-up artist (PUA), not a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA). This is true and I did not make that clear in my article; however, while I regret any confusion this might have caused, the distinction between PUAs and MRAs is more semantic than theoretical, as I would consider PUAs to be under the umbrella that is the “men’s rights movement,” which I do not consider a “legit human rights movement”—any group advocating harm to another group of humans isn’t fighting for human rights; they’re fighting for power.
The video “Chat with RooshV” attempted to establish the differences between the two groups (who are often at odds with each other). While PUAs are focused primarily on dating, MRAs are focused more generally on re-establishing the gender norms of the past (men in charge, women oppressed).
Valizadeh claims his “How To Stop Rape” article was satire; even if it was, it was completely ineffective. A feminist writing a satirical article on preventing rape would make sense—it would be clear they were making a point to mock the arbitrary rules women are supposed to follow. But given Valizadeh’s writing as a whole, it’s no surprise people took it seriously. He calls himself a “neomasculinist,” claiming that Western men are marginalized by feminists and that they must reclaim their dominance over women (“something women say they don’t want, but respond to favorably,” he said).
The purpose of my article was to show how this broad “men’s rights” movement—regardless of its different branches—is a backlash to feminism. Its purpose is to keep women in “their place” through intimidation, harassment, and tricks (such as the PUA concept of “negging,” wherein the man negatively appraises a woman to her face in an attempt to make her defensive and ultimately succumb to him). There will always be extremists and outliers to any movement, but there’s typically a common thread that unites them. The concept that unites MRAs is being anti-feminist.
It can be easy to say that the men’s rights movement is much larger than this subset of misogyny, but that’s simply not the case. There are certainly men fighting for gender equity—fighting to end forced (or at least default) circumcision, fighting for their rights as parents and for a culture that values men’s emotions and empathy rather than just their stoicism and strength. And there’s a name for this movement that wants to eradicate gender norms which tell people who they can and can’t be, a movement that all genders have been a part of since the 1800s. It’s called feminism.