Call me "Slutty Brandes"
If you've been too busy getting your nose pierced and topping up your fake tan to have read “24 Signs She’s a Slut", then girl, the internet has some bad news for you. It's a list of personality traits, life choices and physical characteristics to tick off against women in order to find out (you guessed it) whether or not they are a slut. Do you enjoy drinking tequila? Then I'm sorry, but you are a slut. Ever been on holiday to Jamaica? You too are a slut. Tend to swear in public? Slut. Ever get a nose piercing or a spray tan? I'm very, very sorry; you've also been selected for a purging in the great slut pogrom of 2013. It's ground-breaking op-ed, really.
While this whole thing is acutely irritating and self-satisfied, is it actually anything to bother getting worried about? Return Of Kings – the site that published it – has set itself up as an antidote to Western feminism, a bunch of white knights riding to the aid of other endangered men who are tired of feeling crushed beneath the pointed heel of disgusting, sexually liberated women. It's a classic tale: the one about how feminism castrated the alpha male and simultaneously endowed him with excuses as to why he's never had a meaningful relationship but is absolutely not at all bothered or bewildered by it. At all.
Like so many timeless love stories, it all started with a pick-up artist: Daryush Valizadeh, who you may have heard of from his unsuccessful but existent line of self-published e-books. In truth, Daryush is more sandwich artist than artist artist, and his tomes are really just textbooks of racist, sexist stereotypes designed to reassure wannabe sex tourists of the sweet, subservient ass they could be leeching on in countries other than their own. Still, they're about having sex with women, so inevitably they have their readers.
Which I suppose is how Return Of Kings found its way into existence, through the niche interests of Dark Triad Casanovas desperate for respite from the free world. Its team of writers are the grownup equivalent of the kid in your class who used to scream about making "lazy chavs" pay more taxes because they realised that being a dick gets lame people attention. "Roosh" is an ultra-conservative who fancies himself as a bit of a rogue free thinker; a libertarian who has his heart set on coercing women into having sex with him rather than building floating private island republics in the sea. An embodiment of America's hypocritical right wing, he's obsessed with sexual freedom but hates the idea that people outside of his demographic might have it too. He prides himself on advising men how to groom women for sex, particularly super-young girls who he boasts of sleeping with “raw”. (An adult would say "unprotected" but apparently everything on his website has to sound like it came straight out of a rapist's mouth.) Basically it's just gross. Really, really gross.
The problem is, as hideous as all this sounds – and despite my initial reaction – I can't see it ever being a huge obstacle for women's rights. Roosh's whiny intolerance isn't anything new, it's representative of a mindset that has existed as long as bitterness and loneliness have, i.e. forever. The internet is great at forming communities, so if all the outcast assholes in the world are collecting here it might seem like the next frontier for online sexism, but in reality they only have like, 2,285 followers on Twitter. Not so threatening.
I also wouldn’t worry that it’s encouraging predatory behaviour, because to assume that anyone could be fooled by these guys is genuinely demeaning to women. If I had been hit on at 17 by the kind of guy who prides himself on WORKING OUT X4 A DAY in capital letters, I would have laughed him out of the building. And you would, too. We’re not idiots.
Anyway, I had the pleasure of exchanging some tweets with Return Of Kings during which they reaffirmed pretty much all of my suspicions about the harmlessness of their affected sleaze. The website's existence is no more a reflection of our culture than David Icke’s scaly New World Order. Sure, people on the internet are sexist and pathetic – in the same way that any and all forums seem to attract at least one conspiracy theorist – but that doesn’t mean we should be clamouring to identify Return Of Kings as a totally new and dangerous kind of sexism. We’re talking about a site run by people who say stuff like “there’s no way in hell you can keep up with my jackhammer porno style sex that I deliver with the velocity of Superman on crack”. How can you say that and NOT be joking?
Still, there’s nothing wrong with ridiculing a bunch of really, really lonely men on the internet if they’re writing stuff like "5 Reasons Fat Girls Don’t Deserve Love". So I’m going to do it anyway because I just had my coffee and I’m feeling sassy. Here's some passing analysis of five of their most stupid blogposts.
ARTICLE #1. THE BEST AND WORST NATIONALITIES OF WOMEN
The gist of this one is using Google to racially stereotype women from around the world. According to the author (“a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner – when he isn't rolling with sweaty men on the mats, or wasting his day on the RVF, you can catch him writing over at ThaiDatingTips.com.") black women are fat and rude, Brazilian women are jealous, easy and gorgeous, and British women are stuck up, rude, angry, fussy, annoying and cold.
PGB SAYS: Racial profiling seems to be a favourite sport for some of these writers. I mean, sure, your only real crime is to analyse Google search results, but the only sort of people who search for "Why are *insert random nationality* women such babes/prudes/sluts?" are pick-up artists and misogynists like you. Most of us don't feel the need to group people into demographics so compulsively, but I guess when you can't find a place for yourself in society you have to make do finding them for other people. Sob. So lonely.
ARTICLE #2. FAT WOMEN DON’T DESERVE LOVE
The general vibe of this is on par with pretty much any standard schoolyard prattling. Apparently fat people can’t wash themselves, can’t move around, spend all their pocket money on snacks, etc.
PGB SAYS: Textbook provocative. It's a cry for hits while simultaneously allowing the writers and commenters to casually drop in how often they chug hard-boiled eggs at the gym. Talking about how fat women are gross is just another roadblock these guys are putting in the way of themselves finding a girlfriend. Got rejected too often at high school? How about starting a website which blames America – a nation of 313.9 million people – for not providing the right type of woman? Yay!!!
ARTICLE #3. THE IRONIES OF FEMALE EMPOWERMENT
Ironies that are, apparently, as follows: living in cities built by men. Living in countries with armies made up of men. Using a TV, which was invented by a MAN.
PGB SAYS: I think my palm is glued to my face.
ARTICLE #4. THREE SIGNS SHE’S MAKING A FALSE RAPE ALLEGATION
A handy rundown of all the ways a woman can and cannot be “properly” raped. Is it by somebody she knew? Not a rape. Did she fail to report it straight away? Not a rape. Tbh, this one would be really, really awful if any of these men were capable of leaving the house.
PGB SAYS: This piece is by far the worst. But while it does flag up serious issues of victim blaming, the majority of comments (from regular readers, it would appear) totally disagree with it. According to the Return Of Kings readership, faux-theoretical name-calling is A-OK, but actual sex crimes are not. Reinstating my inkling that they're all just insecure and looking to identify with other men over their inability to connect with women. Thank God.
ARTICLE #5. 24 SIGNS SHE’S A SLUT
And finally, the piece de resistance. Written by a guy calling himself Tuthmosis, who can boast a weekly column and 131 followers on Twitter (#influential). If you have any of the following: piercings, tattoos, a taste for tequila, sexually active female friends, divorced parents, a good tan, big boobs, body hair, an Oyster card, a friend who is a DJ, ambition to be an artist, or feminist views – you’re a slut. Oh, and my favourite: "Has slut face – You either recognize it or you don’t." Weirdly they missed out "is female" which seems to me the most obvious factor.
PGB SAYS: I’m a slut. But at least I'm a slut who, after this brief pitstop, will be getting on with my life.
You’re welcome, you bunch of totally-cool-not-at-all-weird guys! Let me know if anyone’s heading over to get started on writing “Bang London”; let’s get coffee and you can seethe about how free I am while sitting opposite me in Starbucks. Wow, you already remind me of every ex-boyfriend I’ve ever broken up with.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
Previously – Liking Bridget Jones Doesn't Make You a Bad Feminist