In the wake of the significant backlash over his controversial men’s advocacy group, Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh announced on Wednesday that all scheduled Return of Kings meetings have been cancelled. The American founder and director of “neo-masculinist” community Return of Kings explained that the safety of attending members was behind the decision.
“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,” said Valizadeh.
The fiery debate surrounding Return of Kings and its leader erupted onto a new plane of controversy when he ventured the legalization of rape as the way to stop it from occurring. Since having the ROK meetings cancelled, Roosh has said that the article, titled “How To Stop Rape,” was a “satirical thought experiment” which has been deliberately misinterpreted by the media.
So, what is all the fuss about, and is it justified?
Return of Kings is touted “neo-masculinist,” rather than misogynistic, by its leader and followers — some 12,100 on Twitter alone. Some of the core values of Return of Kings include action against mainstream culture’s marginalization of heterosexual men; the discernment of women’s value by their beauty, age, sexual promiscuity, and acquiescent beliefs; and the acknowledgement of “truths” which define men and women. These values are outlined in detail in “What Is Neo-Masculinity?,” posted by Valizadeh on the Return of Kings’ leader’s personal blog.
“Traits possessed by men in greater percentage than women: dominance, independence, intelligence, rationale, analytical thinking
“Traits possessed by women in greater percentage than men: submissiveness, dependence, emotional nature, faster intuition, cooperative sharing”
Return of Kings has attracted immense and impassioned responses from the public, particularly feminist organizations, which have started petitions and staged protests against the group since Valizadeh announced plans for meetings in Australia.
Australian news organizations have weighed in on the debate, with newscast The Project‘s anchor Waleed Aly on Tuesday night urging the public to ignore Return of King’s intimations about the nature of women and encouragement of what are widely considered offensive, violent, and misogynistic behavior towards them. Some of these statements include articles from Return of Kings titled “Why You Should Not Date Indian Girls” and “Top 10 Worst Female Role Models In The Entire World”— an article that names plus-size model Tess Holliday and high-profile feminists such as Hillary Clinton and Lena Dunham as some of those.
Statements from Australia’s Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, who has called ROK’s ideologies and attitudes “repugnant,” have also strengthened momentum to have the Return of Kings meetings cancelled.
Dutton stated in an interview with ABC News Australia that people who disrespect women will not be allowed into the country, and his statement is lent some veracity by the country’s track record of denying access to advocates of misogynistic ideology and behavior, such as that which is incited by Return of Kings. In 2014, self-styled “pick up artist” Julien Blanc had his Australian visa cancelled, and was forced to issue a public apology for the information and material he was responsible for disseminating — including images of him choking women as part of suggested ploys to manipulate them into sexual submission. Then-minister Scott Morrison explained to Sky News Australia that these views — whether proliferated by Blanc or Return of Kings — would not be tolerated.
“This guy wasn’t pushing forward political ideas, he was putting a view that was derogatory to women and that’s just something that our values abhor in this country,” said Morrison.
With Return of Kings meetings cancelled worldwide, and his prospects of obtaining a visa unlikely, the public awaits a response from Daryush. According to Return of Kings on Twitter, Roosh plans to “hire a private yacht” in which to enter the country in secret. Return of Kings has also announced plans to continue hosting the bonding opportunities for like-minded heterosexual men in private, unpublished locations.
[Images by Adam Berry/Getty Images and Bartek Kucharczyk via Wikimedia Commons]