Prominent men’s rights activist and blogger Roosh invited select members of the media to attend a press conference Saturday evening at a Washington D.C. hotel.
Standing in front of a table full of reporters from the Daily Beast, Washington Post, Washingtonian, and even Martha Stewart Living, Roosh (real name Daryush Valizadeh) defended himself against media claims that he advocated for the legalization of rape in a February 2015 blog post. He says the media “incited a mob based on lies that has put my family in danger,” referring to actions by hacktivist group Anonymous and a subsequent story by the Daily Mail, which revealed his parents’ telephone number and address.
It all began early last week when people around the world caught wind of Return of Kings fan meetups in more than 40 cities. Thousands of people signed online petitions to thwart meetups in their cities and encouraged law enforcement and government to get involved, for fear of safety. Others, operating under the assumption that the meetups were happening, organized counter-demonstrations to confront these men head-on.
“A private meetup for men is going to be monitored [by law enforcement]. 1984 is here,” Roosh comments near the start of the presser, referring to George Orwell’s dystopian novel.
While many have been familiar with Roosh’s work since he began publishing in 2012, for others, this was their first exposure to his ideas of the subjugation of women and pickup artist techniques. The one post media kept coming back to is called “How to Stop Rape.”
“If a woman got raped, that is a sad thing,” Roosh said Saturday night, wearing a fitted V-neck T-shirt and black baseball cap and sounding more like a child mid-temper tantrum than the hyper-masculine man’s man that his online persona suggests. “It’s a bad thing. But whose fault is it? Is it the woman’s fault? No, I’m not saying that. But the woman can do things to reduce the likelihood that she will get hurt.”
“Do you lift?” Roosh, to me after I ask why his “strong, masculine” followers need so much subterfuge.
— Benjamin Freed (@brfreed) February 7, 2016
The basic premise of his remarks was that media have villainized him for a year-old blog post that was meant as “a satirical thought experiment” and have insisted on perpetuating lies. But when pressed by one of the reporters present to explain what exactly the media lied about, he was not able to offer a clear explanation.
He pressed on with his crusade against the media, stating, “When a real rape happens, you cover it up!” Roosh pointed to the New Year’s Eve gang rapes of multiple women in Cologne, Germany, claiming that it was not covered by mainstream publications. But a Google News search tells a different story.
“I take full responsibility for everything I have done,” he admits. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t state what you [the media] did wrong.”
Roosh says the firestorm has been both good and bad. “You have made me one of the most famous men in the world,” he said, without a hint of irony. Yet, he laments: “I’m going to be known as a pro-rape advocate for the rest of my life.”
Perhaps the most important takeaway from Saturday’s event is that Roosh says he most aligns with the politics of Donald Trump.
Screengrab via Roosh V/YouTube