Earlier this week The Daily Mail published images of a scruffy Daryush 'Roosh' Valizadeh emerging from his family's basement in Silver Spring, Maryland, confirming what many suspected about the self-anointed king of neo-masculinity and pick-up 'artist': he's largely full of shit.
Though Valizadeh has claimed to be a resident of Europe, with a penthouse office in the United States overlooking golf course, creating content for his millions of devotees, it appears that facade is crumbling.
Last night, at a secret press conference held, fittingly, in a basement Washington D.C. hotel, Valizadeh essentially admitted as much. "A year ago I wrote an article, 'How to Stop Rape,'" Valizadeh told the dozen attendant journalists. "This article, to a ten-year-old [was] obvious that I didn't intend to legalize rape or cause harm against women."
Valizadeh told reporters that he summoned the cops to his parents' home because, he claims, he's received numerous threats after announcing 165 meet- ups in major international cities across the globe, for his devoted, assuredly masculine followers. Valizadeh hyped the events as though his millions of followers would finally step forward from the shadows.
Valizadeh was forced to "cancel" the meet-ups over "safety concerns."
Indeed, the Maryland basement dweller managed to convince media pundits, freaked-out feminists, a half-dozen American mayors, a number of British MPs, and 46,965 Canadians who signed a Change.org petition to keep Valizadeh out of their country, that he and his neo-kings were a credible threat.
Valizadeh called the press conference to chastise the media for over-reacting to year-old article and online pick-up tips. In the article Valizdeh writes:
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. At the same time, we don't hesitate to blame men for bad things that happen to them (if right now you walked into a dangerous ghetto and got robbed, you would be called an idiot and no one would say "teach ghetto kids not to steal"). It was obvious to me that the advice of our esteemed establishment writers and critics wasn't stopping the problem, and since rape was already on the law books with severe penalties, additional laws or flyers posted on dormitory doors won't stop this rape culture either. I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds.
"I must state right now that not a single woman has been hurt. Not by me," Valizadeh told reporters. "I've never been accused of rape; I've never been charged. No follower of mine has read something by me and gone on to rape—and I know because if they did, it would be all over the news. Not a single woman has been hurt. You have to understand that your work and the work of your own colleagues has incited a mob based on lies that has put my family in danger. If they get hurt right now, God forbid, it's because of you. It's because you didn't read a damn article; you misinterpreted, and now we have a rage mob to where as you can see, I had to hide this [press conference]."
At the conference, Valizadeh also commended Washington Post reporter Caitlyn Dewey for her recent article, "How a radical misogynist fooled millions of people and hundreds of journalists." Dewey writes:
[T]he line between "real" movements and mere Internet grumbling is becoming increasingly hard to see. For one thing, the Internet makes it virtually impossible to quantify groups like Valizadeh's, which claim to command—but rarely produce—untold hordes of followers. Much like Anonymous, with whom Valizadeh has sparred, and Gamergate, with whom he's sympathized, the "neomasculines" could hypothetically number in the tens of thousands … or consist of a few hundred keyboard warriors with a legion of sock puppets.
Valizadeh seems to fall in the latter camp: The last time he attempted something like Saturday's canceled meet-up — a well-publicized, eight-city lecture series last summer—his largest crowd maxed out at 77 in New York City. And while his flagship website, Return of Kings, is well-trafficked—averaging slightly less than 2 million views per month, according to Similar Web — that number is not necessarily indicative of the size of Valizadeh's following. On both Twitter and Facebook, Return of Kings has fewer than 13,000 followers. The site's accompanying forums have registered 19,600 accounts, but half have never posted. The rest of the conference was devoted to Valizadeh taking questions and further chastising reporters for not covering the "real" rape mobs in Germany, referring to the multiple attacks on women in Cologne, Germany during a public New Year's Eve celebration."
When asked what the actual point of his "work" is, Valizadeh answered, "What I've been trying to show is that equality doesn't work." He added, "if we have a marriage rate where there is a 50% divorce rate, it just doesn't work."
He also gave his presidential endorsement to Donald Trump.
I asked Valizadeh if he'd be willing to donate some of the large amounts of money he brags about on his Instagram (which has currently less than 800 followers) to a rape crisis center to offset some of the ill-will he's created.
"No, they're doing just fine," Valizadeh said. "But if they want to pay for my security, I'd be more than happy to take it."
Meanwhile, just six blocks away from the hotel, there was a counter protest for one of Valizadeh canceled gatherings. The protest had more than triple the attendance of the press conference and quite possibly quadruple the attendance of what the original gathering would have been. The group, made up largely of men, chanted slogans and teased about Valizade's basement residence.
Valizadeh denied he lived inside his parents' basement and instead claimed to be a resident of "Europe."
As I prepared to leave the hotel, I glimpsed Valizadeh nodding to the four patrol cars stationed outside, presumably for his safety.
Below is a transcript of Valizadeh's remarks before the question and answer session:
The world has gone insane in the past week. Why? Number one: I had organized meet-ups around the world for men to enjoy a social happy hour, just to meet and talk in private about anything--work, politics, girls--anything. Number two: A year ago I wrote an article, "How to Stop Rape." This article, to a ten-year-old it was obvious that I didn't intend to legalize rape or cause harm against women, but starting on Sunday a lot of you have lied saying I'm a pro-rape advocate. "He wants women to get hurt." And the then third thing is the meet-ups; you said the meet-ups are for rapists to gather to learn how to rape--"They're gonna exchange tips!" Some of you called it a rape rally--a rape rally. What the hell is that? A rape rally?
So because of that I've been all over the world in terms of news. Over a hundred articles have been written. The result is what? I'm currently the most hated man in the world. Governments all over the world have talked about me.
Australia has tried to keep me out. They called out their navy to keep me out because they thought I was gonna get in through a private yacht, so the navy was called out.
In England, the House of Commons debated me for half an hour to say how I'm a bad man who shouldn't be allowed in the country.
Mayors from everywhere, like Canada, have said they're going to keep me out, like they could anyways. They're just a mayor; they can't keep people out.
Texas, the governor said the same thing. Police from everywhere said all meet-ups will be monitored.
Private meet-ups for men will be monitored; 1984 is here. Worst of all, my family's address was put on the internet through the hacking group Anonymous, and your colleagues at the Daily Mail confirmed the dox.
They said I eat my mom's meatloaf everyday.
Dozens of threats have come in. Someone said they're going to burn my house down, but save my mom, so I'm glad.
You have to understand that your work and the work of your own colleagues has incited a mob based on lies that has put my family in danger. If they get hurt right now, god forbid, it's because of you. It's because you didn't read a damn article; you misinterpreted, and now we have a rage mob to where as you can see I had to hide this. I told you don't tell anyone.
I must state right now that not a single woman has been hurt. Not by me; I've never been accused of rape; I've never been charged. No follower of mine has read something by me and gone on to rape--and I know because if they did it would be all over the news. Not a single woman has been hurt. Yet there is a real rape mob somewhere, and there is media from where that country is. Who wants to volunteer what country has an active rape mob? What happened in New Year's Eve in Cologne? Does anybody know? Someone? New Year's Eve mobs of men assaulted women; they raped them, and what did you guys do? Covered it all up! You covered it up!
So when a real rape happens, that goes against the agenda of your boss, you actually happen. But when no rapes happen, and I try to have a meet-up, you lose your shit. So I just wanted to come here just to say that not only are you guys not honest in your reporting of me, that no one has been harmed, and that when real harm takes place you guys don't say anything. And that is not right and not fair. And I pray to god that nothing happens to anyone that is close to me, and if it does that is your fault. And that's my statement. Anything else?