Is it a Game of Thrones?

I do not disagree that the ROK’s demands and policies are radical and I do not endorse their practices in any way whatsoever. It’s high time we acknowledge that there are two ends of the spectrum, and if we can accept radical feminists in our society, we have to be able to accept radical “meninists”.

“Make rape legal if done on private property.”

This statement from the infamous group Return of Kings’ (ROK) article “How To Stop Rape” had swarmed all communication channels over the past few weeks. And rightly so – that statement alone, without any context, prequel or sequel would and should drive the global population berserk. It’s an insidious proposition that threatens the entire populace, males and females alike.  Some have even demanded that this group should be declared a terrorist organization.

That’s what happens when a person born with testicles has an opinion. What is the Return of Kings? It is a group of people, specifically heterosexual men, who publish articles on nonviolent methods to “pick up” women, so to speak, and the principles of neomasculinity. They stand as advocates for men’s rights and promote the existence of a patriarchy. What we make of the ROK? A pro-rape activist group who pose a threat to all women.

“I read it for a long time; I have been reading it for a few years because it was interesting to come across these counter feminist perspectives, and I don’t think I would’ve continued reading their articles if I thought that these people claimed to want to rape me. The people are not familiar with the article. They don’t care to be familiar with the article, which I think is the most absurd part of it all,” says Aliceea Rice, a former student at the University of Michigan.

Someone who has read the How To Stop Rape article wholly would know that Daryush Valizadeh, its author, explicitly states that: “I have a sister who I don’t want to be raped … I knew from an early age that rape was bad, as was all forms of violence, not just against women but men as well.” Heck, the article is titled How To Stop Rape. The man clearly isn’t promoting rape. If none of these give you a hint, I don’t know what will. ROK has periodic congregations wherein men of similar beliefs come together and rant and ramble to their hormones’ content.  Except to their disadvantage, or advantage rather, these meetings are interpreted to be rape rampages, working towards their undeserved fame.

Sparing differences in genitalia, both the meetings were nonviolent congregations of people wanting to express their opinion.

Getting specific to the university, ROK was expected to have a meeting on campus on the 6th of February, 2016. “Just planning a private meeting to discuss men’s rights is total bullshit,” a current male student at the University commented on a social media thread about ROK’s appearance. Obviously, the student body went bonkers over what was just a meeting, thus aggrandizing it. Incorrect interpretations of their articles, which at best showed a biased ignorance of their stance, induced fear among the students of the university. What was supposed to be a meetup of a few men who advocate men’s rights was hyped to be a meetup of rapists. The interpretation of their meeting was, to say the least, blown out of proportion. The scheduled arrival of the ROK on campus induced fear amongst the student body, females specifically, only to be buttressed by the fear-mongering lies posted and the outrage provoked by feminists all over social media and news channels. The hype created by the students was so much so that it called for a police dispatch to pacify the situation. The police dispatch that was called because of the hype created by the student body was then used by the student body as evidence to report that ROK’s meeting, had it happened, posed a genuine threat to the student body. Let’s not forget that the very men that the feminists shame and look down upon were called in for their protection from a potential threat. Not only is this an awful game of convenience, but it also promotes the very ideologies of ROK that feminists are against – patriarchy.

It didn’t stop here. Alerts of their arrival prompted the organization of a rally at the diag led by a community of students. “The rally”, said Anna Forringer Beal, a student at the University of Michigan and one of the student leaders of the rally, “was definitely prompted by the alert of the arrival of the ROK. But it wasn’t a retaliation. It was a message of “inclusive feminism”, a message of community gathering.” The rally itself was a peaceful congregation with most people holding placards that read “I <3 Consent”, “Stop Blaming the Victim”, “NO means NO”, etc. The similarities between ROK’s planned meetup and the rally are too apparent to be overlooked by someone not blinded by the acknowledging bias. Sparing differences in genitalia, both the meetings were nonviolent congregations of people wanting to express their opinion. Difference being, while the rally on the diag was seen as a movement towards protection of women’s rights, the scheduled ROK gathering was perceived to be a sexual assault threat.

The fight has now become a race. It’s now about who’s winning – the feminists or the meninists – instead working towards a mutual interest of gender equality.

I do not disagree that the ROK’s demands and policies are radical and I do not endorse their practices in any way whatsoever. But it’s high time we acknowledge that there are two ends of the spectrum, and if we can accept radical feminists in our society, we have to be able to accept radical “meninists”.  The fundamental crux of a feminist group is to uplift women to where men are today so as to initiate a movement towards gender equality. But the prevalent acknowledging bias that allows us to accept the radical party of feminists that is rooting for female rights without accepting the radical party of meninists in the same way is what sows the seeds for gender inequality instead. It is true that women have been mistreated in the past and not been given equal denomination or regard, but in an attempt to establish gender equality we’re calling upon gender inequality. The fight has now become a race. It’s now about who’s winning – the feminists or the meninists – instead working towards a mutual interest of gender equality.

On February 3rd, the ROK announced that their meetings would be canceled. “I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend,” Roosh wrote. “While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return of the Kings meetups.” Roosh was asked at a press event why his cadre of alleged alpha-men would cancel get togethers over something like female protests or police car.

“Because you have gotten governments involved by lying about our intention,” he responded. “Now the world thinks we’re going to meet to, uh, to rape people. So why are we going to meet now? Do you think it’s smart now for us to go and meet after that?”

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About Aayushi Madani

Aayushi Madani is a freshman at the University of Michigan studying Economics and Math. She is an active contributor to the Review. When she's not writing, she can be found swimming, reading in the Arb or painting with an orange marker to her heart's content.