Neo-masculinity group protests feminism, advocates for private rape in Seattle.
Meetings for Seattle’s meninist group, scheduled for early February, were recently cancelled in response to public outrage.
“Meninism” is the self-coined term for a movement which advocates for men’s rights.
The movement began on Twitter, as men used the hashtag #INeedMeninismBecause to discuss their issues as men battling a radical feminist world. This movement has sprung up to battle years of advocacy for women’s rights.The Twitter account for the movement is allegedly satire according to its creators, but many of its followers take the messages very seriously.
The founder of the group, Daryush Valizadeh, is an American writer known for his publications on neo-masculinity and anti-feminism.
The term “Neo-masculinity” delineates the traits that men have adopted or chosen from evolution to the present day. He has written many books and articles instructing men to adhere to extreme heteronormative roles, and claims that feminism has left a legacy of men who are weak in their loss of masculinity. He has gained a group of followers on his blog, “Return of Kings,” who adhere to his teachings in the superiority of masculine virtues.
In Valizadeh’s article, “When no means yes,” he suggested that, “No means no depends on context.” He wrote that when faced with a woman not consenting to a sexual act, one should “try again in five minutes” and not give up.
“By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions,” Valizadeh argued. As a solution, Valizadeh proposed making rape legal if it happens on private property.
Though Valizadeh later claimed the statement was satire, his statements about rape have caused outrage, as many people point out that his ideas of “neo-masculinity” are simply misogyny.
Valizadeh posted on his blog in early February that followers, “will have 165 meetings in 43 countries for our international meetup day.” Two of these locations were planned to be in Seattle, at the downtown Seattle Public Library and the Lenin statue in Fremont. A third gathering was scheduled in Everett. These gatherings would be a place for followers (no women or people of the LGBTQ community permitted) to discuss Valizadeh’s teachings.
In an interview Valizadeh stated, “Up to now, the enemy [women] have been able to exert their power by isolating us and attacking with shrieking mobs, but we’ll be able to neutralize that tactic by amassing in high numbers come February 6th.”
While reactions to the group’s announcements were largely fearful, several groups took a stand. In response to the meetup announcements, The Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club posted on Facebook, “Try to mess with these ladies, Valizadeh. We dare you.”
The owner and head coach of the boxing club, Savoy Howe, later personally challenged Valizadeh stating, “Let’s go f***er…get in the ring with me,” and further ensured that the boxing team would be ready to fight if the meetings took place, stating, “I have access to an army of women who are pretty darn tough.”
Several events were created in an attempt to counter Return of Kings meetings, including a meeting in Brisbane, Australia where 747 people planned to protest Return of Kings followers.
As these protest meetings continued to gain popularity, Valizadeh cancelled all of his rallies for “heterosexual, masculine men,” stating in a post on one of the Return of Kings social media accounts, “I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6th.”
Though the meetings have been cancelled for now, Valizadeh continues to post “advice” and “instructions” on his blog.
Sophomore Lucy Beatty, a student advocate for women’s rights, has worked with the Looking Out Foundation and its Fight The Fear Campaign which teaches self-defense to women.
“It just worries me because these people can be so influential, and we underestimate the power that these people have,” Beatty said referring to Valizadeh’s growing media presence.
“We as women…we don’t deserve that. It just scares me. I don’t feel like I can live if I am in fear.”
Photo by: Erin Cunningham