This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
The website synonymous with the most toxic elements of the (already toxic as hell) manosphere is going on an “indefinite hiatus.”
On October 1, pick-up artist Daryush Valizadeh, better known as Roosh V, announced that he’s taking “Return of Kings,” one of the more popular websites among the shittiest men online, out to pasture. For the last six years, it was on this website—which marketed itself toward sad men seeking "pick-up artist" advice—that Roosh and his fellow writers ruminated over questions such as why you should date women with eating disorders, why “women should not be allowed to vote,” and why homosexuality is similar to Nazism.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Roosh as being a “male supremacist” who has “advocated for predatory and forceful sexual behavior in his books, on his Roosh V blog and on his popular manosphere platform, Return of Kings.” The SPLC writes that essentially Roosh’s beliefs boiled down to the fact he believed women were intellectually inferior to men—he also perpetuated the male victim narrative/complex that defines the manosphere.
These beliefs, which he dubbed “neo-masculinity,” led initially to the site's popularity and now, its closing. On the announcement post, Roosh said there were two reasons for doing so, one was that he was burnt out and the second was that de-platforming had it’s desired effect.
“We’ve been banned from Paypal and countless ad partners, which forced me to lay off the site editor last year and also lower payments to regular contributors. This started a negative spiral of declining content quality, site traffic, and revenues,” he wrote.
“Even the beloved comments section, which many see as the highlight of ROK, was badly hit when Disqus banned us. Currently, ROK receives half the traffic of its peak and less than one-fifth of the income.”
Roosh, after running an anonymous pickup artist blog and self-publishing several books, founded the website in 2012. The website quickly became a hub for people who shared these views and he built up a stable of writers willing to milk male frustration for clicks. From here, he started doing speaking tours around the world which generated significant global backlash, including being denounced by Toronto’s mayor, banned from the UK, and a petition to ban him from Australia garnering 100,000 signatures.
Regardless of the books, tours, Twitter accounts or whatever, his site was always the main hub for Roosh. ROK itself was known as a hub for misogynistic online activity, pick-up artist ‘strategy,’ harassment, sad dudes complaining about their poor sex lives, and their extreme articles that walked the line between sincerity and trolling for attention (Jezebel once described ROK as a “vile troll site” and advocated people don’t pay attention to it.) One of the most infamous examples would be when Roosh proposed that rape should be legalized on private properties which, obviously, drew fury online—we could list more articles of a similar nature here but fuck that.
The last few years have been a steady slope downward for Roosh. Shortly after pissing off the world with his rape views Roosh called the police about death threats and it became known that he lived in his mother's basement. He grew a large beard and started posting YouTube videos in an attempt to pivot to a right-wing provocateur. Over time, as Roosh outlined in his note, companies started disassociating with the pick-up artist and removing him from their services, which lessened his impact. Roosh still has several other outlets, like a personal website and forum going, but for now, his largest platform has gone quiet.
It’s a welcome silence.
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