Photo Credit: jason train
The internet was abuzz this past week as the “men’s rights” group Return of Kings threatened a national meet up day, with a location right here in Rochester. The meetup was scheduled to take place on February 6th around the Eastman Theater area. According to their website, the groups claims to “usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men.” A few lines later they note that “Women and homosexuals are strongly discouraged from commenting here.”
The main belief of the group that has shaken the global community is their views of rape. In essence, they believe rape should be legal, as long as it is done on private property. Group leader Roosh Valizadeh states
“I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds.”
Needless to say, the communal reaction of panic was appropriate.
The meetup was to take place as follows- members, or prospective members, would show up to the identified location (in our case, Eastman). There they would find a man who they would then ask the coded question “Could you direct me to the nearest pet store?” They would then be directed to the secret location of the actual meeting. Who knows what the intentions of the meeting were, whether just a peaceful gathering, or one of malicious intent.
Countless Facebook events were created in areas that would be involved in the meetups to gather in protest against the group. In response, Valizadeh cancelled the event stating he could “no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of men who want to attend.” The ultimate ironic ending to an event that revolved around a core belief in the strength and power these men hold above others.
Numerous petitions on various media platforms have sprung up within the past few days in response to the events, requests ranging from simply shutting down the site, to labeling the organization as a terrorist group. Petitions have even sprung up on petitions.whitehouse.gov, asking President Obama for his assistance on the issue. Interestingly, this group and these petitions have been around for two years, starting in 2014. What disappoints me is that it is only now that attention is being called to this issue. Does it really take a “national scare” to steer these issues in the right direction? Perhaps we felt more vulnerable when the threat stepped up to human-to-human contact, rather than pathetic scare tactics masked behind a keyboard. I hope that as a nation we can learn from this mistake and better protect our people from these radical extremists who have no place in our world.