Roosh V Canceled His Male Pride Meetup But Still Got What He Wanted

Attention. Lots of attention.
February 4, 2016, 6:46pm
Screengrab: YouTube

I'd like to extend my eminently reluctant congratulations to legal rape advocate (it's satire, he swears) and self-help guru for misogynistic babymen Daryush "Roosh V" Valizadeh.

You see, Roosh has turned himself from a fixture of the obscure online "pickup artist" community into a worldwide news item through no more than skillful public relations and a tightly-controlled a media narrative. He gamed the internet, and in some perverse way, it's awe-inspiring, like watching someone pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Presto-chango, now I'm news.

I'm going to ruin the trick by telling you how it worked.

Roosh was prepared for the blowback; more than that, he was ready to turn it into an opportunity

First, Roosh announced a worldwide meetup for his followers in cities from Sydney to Toronto. The set-up was like something out of a bad spy movie: attendees were to greet each other in code, and move to a secret meeting location together. But, curiously, the locations of where these men were to initially meet were posted publicly by Roosh. What happened next was predictable. The meetup was covered by news outlets around the world, and outrage sprang up all over. Protests were planned in major cities across the world.

Roosh was prepared for the blowback; more than that, he was ready to turn it into an opportunity.

On his personal (but public) forum, a warning message appeared at the top of the site stating that the forum was in a "state of emergency" and "extra rules apply during the worldwide attack against our international meetup day," and forum registration was closed. He wrote to followers, "the world is moving against us." One thread encouraged followers to collect and post "threats" against meetup attendees made on social media. Another asked forum members to post the identities and contact information of unsympathetic journalists, as well as their "most likely city of residence (don't publish addresses but save them for possible future use)." These threads are no longer viewable on the public forum at the time of writing.

All in all, it appeared as though Roosh and his followers were determined not to be painted as the bad guys this time around—a speaking tour last year was punctuated by instances of well-publicized harassment against women speaking out against Roosh.

The forum threads that are currently viewable to the public are filled with instructions on staying safe while being assaulted by SJWs, antifascists, and citizens at a meetup. These instructions include advice on not wearing a nice suit lest it be ruined during an attack by a "hysterical" opponent, and no ties due to the choking hazard. Roosh put a gag order on anyone talking to the press beyond stating that the gathering is a "peaceful meet and greet." A producer for a major Australian media organization that I spoke with told me that Roosh would not respond to their requests for comment. Men who planned on attending the meetup were told to be on their best behaviour and abstain from drinking.

Finally, Roosh cancelled the international meetup in a dramatic fashion that perfectly fit the victimized narrative. Roosh wrote in a blog post that he "can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend." The cancellation was covered by everyone from The Guardian to, yes, VICE. And with that, Roosh was no longer merely a conversation topic among an ultimately niche group of online denizens familiar with the dark corner of the internet he sprang from—he, and his ideas, had gone global.

Now that the meetups are cancelled—although some forum members expressed that they will still hold unofficial meetups—there is nothing left to discuss, really. The meat has fallen away, and all that's left of this story is the bone. But that ossified core, that irreducible and unretractable thing that's leftover, what is it? It's Roosh's own narrative and all the attention that he's gotten for the meetup that never was.

Poof. Now you see it, now you don't.