This is a post about how feminism changed romance, and one man confused and embittered by the new rules.
RooshV. It’s a name you might have heard.
RooshV (real name: Daryush Valizadeh) is an infamous anti-feminist, “Pick-Up Artist”(PUA), and self-admitted rapist who’s known mostly for his extremist misogynistic views, views he expresses loudly and often both on his own blog and on ‘Return of Kings’, a site that describes itself as “a blog for heterosexual, masculine men”. (It’s mostly just a collection of really angry rants about how all women are evil.) He’s the guy who wrote a whole blog post saying the way to solve rape is to legalize it on private property.
He’s not a nice man.
But he is fascinating, in a horrific sort of way.
I know about misogyny. I’ve seen and experienced it enough. But there’s something special about RooshV’s misogyny. If you read his ramblings at all, you’ll soon notice this is a man who doesn’t just look down on women, he really, really detests us. This isn’t normal hatred, this is passionate, all consuming, deep and burning loathing that has caused him to dedicate his entire life to the cause of hating women.
And as a woman, I have to ask. What makes someone hate us that much?
I think I know the answer.
Once upon a time, knights rescued princesses, and they all lived happily ever after.
Marriage has not always been the simple goal romantics like to aim for that it is today. Once, marriage was, for a woman, a necessity. A woman couldn’t work, or fight, or rule. She couldn’t make her own money, or live by herself. She was required by law and by society to rely on others for her food, the roof over her head, and her safekeeping.
Women needed men to marry them. To not be married was to stay a burden to your family for the rest of your life, or even to be left alone to try scrape a living together through the only professions available to you. It’s no wonder even now our romance stories (the heteronormative ones anyway) almost always seem to feel the need to have the man “rescue” the woman at some point. For a great deal of history, romance and marriage was far more than a happy fuzzy set of feelings to women: it was salvation, a rescue performed by the man who loved you.
Women, thus rescued, would be expected to devote themselves to their husbands, to show their gratitude in any way they could. They couldn’t help provide money, but they could manage the house, raise the children, see to groceries and meals, and generally perform all those duties we now associate as traditionally “feminine”, or “motherly” – the duties of a housewife.
As exchanges go, it’s not necessarily an unfair one. I’m sure many were able to find happiness in this arrangement. The fact that it was forced on everyone, happy with it or not, however, is what was unfair.
Fast forward a few decades, and we find ourselves in a very different situation. Women no longer need to be rescued by marriage. We earn our own salaries now, and pay our own way. We can own property, and vote, and drive, and even be the heads of our own households.
I have said before that women don’t need men, and it was taken as a horrendous insult towards men.
It wasn’t meant to be. The woman of the past who had to rely on her husband for everything had no choice but to keep him as happy as she was able. This isn’t to say no women at the time loved their husbands genuinely, but when all the power lies with one person, and the other will be punished severely if they fall out of love with or displease that person, how likely is that love to always be extremely genuine, based on attraction to and admiration of that person alone?
When a woman chooses to be in a relationship with a man now, it’s not necessarily because she needs him. It’s because she wants to be with him. Gone is the contract where sex and affection are always exchanged for food and shelter. Sex and affection is now exchanged for sex and affection. Call me new-fashioned, but I find the choice of being with someone because you want to, rather than have to, far more pure and romantic than the notion of being rescued and having to rely on someone.
The thing is, when our love stories have centred around the sex and affection for food and shelter narrative for most of history, it can be hard to adjust to this new idea of romance. Thus, when I say things like “Women don’t need men”, it’s taken as an insult to both romance and men.
I remember a scene from Sex and the City. Charlotte, the old-fashioned Disney-Princess styled romantic one, spends a great deal of the show trying to find that perfect white knight who is going to sweep her off her feet and carry her down the aisle. At one point, she even claims that “Women just want to be rescued”.
She faces relationship failure after relationship failure, as the perfect romance she’s expecting never arrives, and finally she bursts out, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?”
Where is he? Where is that knight to rescue her and live happily ever after? She has waited, passively, like the good traditional woman that she is. When is he, in his role of saviour, going to show up and do his duty?
Charlotte, a fictional character, finally realizes that modern romance doesn’t happen the way we’re conditioned to expect, but how many non-fictional women who think like her are waiting, confused, unable to figure out why “he” hasn’t arrived yet?
When I was young, it was normal to be given advice on how to make sure men will want to marry you. “Men don’t like girls who” this. “Men won’t marry women who” that. We were warned not to give in to sexual temptation, because men like their women to be pure. Men might sleep around before settling down, but they’d never settle down with a “slut”, we were warned.
It was never thought of to consider what we might like. We were expected to desire marriage and be willing to do anything to persuade men to marry us.
The people who taught me these lessons forgot that marriage is no longer a necessity.
As I grew older, I decided that I didn’t like men who are so insecure they feel threatened if their wife has a sexual history. I decided I wouldn’t be likely to marry a man with such ridiculous double standards that he wants his wife to be “virginal” and “pure” but sees no reason to stay “virginal” or “pure” himself. In short, I decided I didn’t have time for sexist men.
I must not be the only one, because the decline in women’s willingness to jump hoops in exchange for marriage has been noticed, and it hasn’t always been well received.
Particularly by Roosh.
Roosh likes to boast about being an “alpha” male. He likes to boast about how often and how easily he can get laid. And he really, really likes to reaffirm the idea that women should need men. Not want, need.
“We’ve long known that women are essentially overgrown children who are unable to take care of themselves or act in a moral or virtuous manner when not properly influenced by a male figure.” – A quote from Roosh’s blog.
In the infamous post titled “How to stop rape”, Roosh claims that the best line of action is to “make rape legal if done on private property”.
“Without daddy government to protect her, a girl would absolutely not enter a private room with a man she doesn’t know or trust unless she is absolutely sure she is ready to sleep with him”.
To Roosh, women are incompetent children who need men to look after them. Princesses who need to be rescued by knights. This seems to be one of his strongest-held beliefs. Along with his concept of “alpha male” his views on how relationships should work seem to coincide startlingly with the “white knight rescuing the damsel in distress” storyline. This is especially ironic, as he uses the phrase “white knight” to insult any men less actively misogynistic than he is.
But even Roosh has to admit that, in the Western world at least, women just don’t need men anymore. A few quotes from a blog post he wrote, titled “Men are nothing more than clowns to the modern women”.
“There is definitely not a single woman alive in the Western world who needs a man. While in the past a woman had to put forth effort to obtain a husband who would help her survive, today she is protected by a welfare state that ensures she will never go hungry or spend one night on the street.”
“Anything required for a woman’s survival or pleasure can be easily achieved without her having to put forth commitment, sacrifice, or labor.”
“From a young age, girls are brainwashed to believe that they don’t need men and that the key to their happiness is self-empowerment by sleeping around and becoming a corporate wage slave. It’s hard to dispute the notion that a woman who believes she doesn’t need a man won’t make as good of a relationship partner as one who does. She will treat you as a distraction to her more important job, girls’ nights out, and social networking validation happy time. Men have become an utterly replaceable and expendable commodity in a girl’s life. Her interest in a man is not unlike her interest in a new television show or Apple product, and your only hope is to have sex with her as many times as possible until her attraction diminishes and she moves on to the next guy in line.”
“Women don’t seek out comfort or stability in men anymore—they seek entertainment. They seek distraction.”
“When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a man who has improved himself over the years to be the best that his genes allow—I see a glittery skirt that a girl encounters in the mall. […] We are like glittery pieces of fashion to women—items that she truly doesn’t need. Not only has she already collected so many of them, but she can easily obtain more within walking distance from where she lives. She can even browse online from home while in her pajamas through a nearly unlimited selection.”
“Once the entertainment or novelty you provide her declines—and it inevitably will—she moves on to something or someone else. In essence, the only way you can keep a girl is if you adopt the mentality of a soap opera writer, adding a cliffhanger to the end of each episode that keeps a woman interested when being a good man no longer does.”
“For the next girl I meet, I’m not going to ask her if she needs a man, because I know she doesn’t. Instead I will simply ask her if she wants a man, and if the answer leans yes, I will perform like the good clown I am so that she is entertained enough to have sex with me.”
This image wasn’t the header for the post, but it really should have been:
The message is clear. Let’s just put aside for a moment that a famous “Pick Up Artist” really just feels like an object (a glittery skirt) that can be used and tossed aside by women, almost as if he’s more a victim of PUA than anything else.
It’s not just that women don’t need men. It’s that women don’t need Roosh, and that’s why Roosh is alone.
And here is the paradox that is RooshV.
While he likes to claim on his website ‘Return of Kings’ that “Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them”, he himself often speaks of committed, monogamous relationships with a hint of longing.
Beneath the article suggesting that rape may be prevented by making it legal, a commenter suggests that under a law like that, most women would never go home with men they don’t know very well completely.
“Doesn’t that contradict the “hit it quick” goal of most of your readers?”
“My readers are forced to spend a significant amount of time to have sex with a girl a couple times before she jumps on the next cock because she has been trained to do so.
“A girl who values the man she does have sex with would lead to a relationship where a man would get far more sex based on his investment than what we have currently.”
I’m reminded of a Vox article about the Men’s Rights Movement by Emmett Rensin, who interviewed Roosh and found him convinced that women would be happier if they were wives instead of workers.
“Are you telling me that a woman now is actually happier working for a boss in a corporate office who can fire her just because the quarterly report was bad, more so than serving her husband in a comfortable home?”
‘For all his writing about how to sleep with multiple women, Roosh says it would be better the old way. The way where men had one partner and women had one partner. But, he adds,
“It’s easy to look back into the past and extract the best things that they did, and hope and wish that we had that. Of course, as humankind marches on, we can never pick and choose. So I’m thinking, what is the best deal that a man can do where he doesn’t get screwed, where he doesn’t have his life ruined, where he doesn’t get imprisoned for something like a false rape accusation?”’
Roosh does not seem to have opted out of monogamy by being a PUA. Instead he seems to have settled for a consolation prize. If given the choice, Roosh wants traditional marriage, the contract that was sex and affection (and, often, obedience) in exchange for food and shelter. Society has moved on though, and women expect more from their partners than the simple kindness of being willing to marry them, a fact that Roosh complains about bitterly and often.
What Roosh wants is not what he insists all men must desire: meaningless sex with different women every night. Roosh wants committed love.
It’s a twisted, disturbing version of love, but it’s love nonetheless.
It’s also a love based on the old contract rather than the new. In Roosh’s mind, men are supposed to be knights and women, princesses, and he just can’t understand why the world doesn’t work that way anymore.
Here he is, alpha male, offering to rescue a woman he finds worthy by gifting her with marriage. Her job is to be passively rescued, eternally grateful, and more than willing to reward his ‘investment’ with the sex and compassion she is supposed to owe in the contract. And yet he cannot find a woman who is willing to spend much time with him at all. You can almost hear his confusion. Why don’t women understand they need men? What’s wrong with this world? The only conclusion he can make is that women “jump on the next cock” because they’ve “been trained” to do so.
He can’t seem to possibly face the fact that, for all his PUA manipulations, he can’t actually hold onto a woman, and make her want to stay and be around him and have regular sex with him, for any real length of time. No woman is willing to trade sex and affection for food and shelter.
No woman needs him. And no woman wants him.
And so if he wants sex and affection he’s going to have to exchange sex and affection in return – that means sex that she enjoys, and respect, and compassion. If his attitude towards women is anything to go by, he’s totally unwilling to offer this, and so no woman stays.
So while Roosh screams passionately about ‘sluts’ and ‘the culture war’ and the evils of women, I can’t help but wonder if, underneath it all, there’s the confused question of a man expecting the old rules of romance to still apply in a new world.
“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen. I’m exhausted. Where is she?”