A pro-men international meet-up was canceled yesterday due to the organizer's fear that he could not fully protect attendees.
The event was set to take place this Saturday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. local time in multiple locations around the world. Organized by Daryush Valizadeh, so-called "pick-up artist" and founder of the anti-feminist website Return Of Kings, there were supposed to be 165 meet-ups in 43 countries.
Daryush Valizadeh, also known as Roosh Valizadeh, Roosh V and Roosh Vörek, is an American blogger who owns Return Of Kings, a popular website in Men's Rights Activist circles. He's known for his books and essays about the "neomasculinity" movement, which advocates for traditional gender roles and is overtly anti-feminist. In 2015, Valizadeh wrote a post on Return Of Kings suggesting that rape should be legal on private property so that victims could use it as a "learning experience." (Valizadeh has since called the post "satire.")
“I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds," Valizadeh wrote. “Consent is now achieved when she passes underneath the room’s door frame, because she knows that that man can legally do anything he wants to her when it comes to sex.” (Head to Raw Story to read more about this specific piece.)
In his most recent posts, Valizadeh wrote that the now-canceled covert meetings were not meant for men to come together to rape women, but to gather like-minded individuals to discuss common interests. According to the post, only “heterosexual, masculine men” were welcome to attend the meet-ups -- women and queer people of any gender identification were not invited.
Below is a screenshot from a Return Of Kings post detailing the "attendance guidelines" for the meet-ups before they had been canceled.
According to Valizadeh's post which detailed the meetings, "hosts" of each rally were instructed to wait between 8:00 and 8:20 pm and "identify [their] fellow tribesmen" by asking: "Do you know where I can find a pet shop?" If someone answered "yes" without actually showing them to a real pet shop, the hosts would know they've found a "fellow tribesmen."
After facing swift and vocal backlash from multiple governments, politicians and the general public, on Wednesday Valizadeh canceled the meet-ups in a Return Of Kings post.
"I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time," he wrote. "While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups... I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision."
Below is a screenshot of Valizadeh's full Return Of Kings post canceling the events.
Valizadeh had planned on attending the Feb. 6 meet-up in Australia, but Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton issued a statement saying that Valizadeh would not be allowed entry into the country.
“People who advocate violence against women aren’t welcome in Australia,” Dutton said in the statement. “In the past people advocating violence against women have had their visa refused or cancelled.”
Thousands around the world have signed petitions publicly denouncing Valizadeh and asking government officials to prevent these meetings from taking place in countries such as Scotland and Australia.
One of the best responses to the Return Of Kings' planned meetings came from a Canadian all-female boxing club called "The Toronto Newsgirls." A group of women from the club vowed to show up at the meet-up in Toronto with the boxing gloves on and ready to fight.
Savoy Howe, a spokesperson from the Toronto Newsgirls told Toronto Metro newspaper that they were responding to Valizadeh's promise to film any feminists who attempted to crash the meet-ups. "Pictures will show up online of women wearing boxing gloves, and blah, blah, blah," Howe said. "The photos of us will show women that being powerful is an option. And I think that’s what needs to happen against this d*****bag."
Since the events were canceled, Valizadeh has asked his followers to post personal details of "lying reporters" who covered the international meet-ups.
“Where did this worldwide mob get the idea that we are meeting to discuss rape tactics? Through the media," he wrote in a forum that is now locked to non-members. "Dozens of reporters have now blatantly lied about all of us being ‘pro rape’ and having a ‘rape advocacy platform.’ They have frothed up a crazy mob that is ready to dox and assault. We must hold journalists fully accountable for their incitement.” (Head to Newsweek to see a screenshot of the full post.)
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