I stumbled across the vile and ridiculous "pick up artist" or "neomasculinity" site Return of Kings some years ago. It's pathetic and stupid, and its denizens and it's host deserve to be ridiculed. But the recent moral panic about Roosh's planned meetups, the misrepresentation and the gleeful threats of violence, and the calls for him to be banned from even entering some nations, are troubling. Elizabeth Nolan Brown has a good take over at Reason.
How Maryland 'Neomasculinity' Blogger Roosh V Became an International 'Pro-Rape' Villain (Reason.com)
The story has been magnified out of all proportion because for a lot of traffic-thirsty web writers or editors, putting "pro-rape activists" in headlines or tweets is too good to pass up—even if it may not technically be true and props up a man and movement they claim to abhor. But while it's likely to have limited reach and flash-in-the-pan stickiness for most, the Roosh situation is still interesting as a case study of collective catharsis through call-out culture and moral panic as meme.
The root of the "pro-rape" accusation is a Roosh blog post ("How to Stop Rape") that proposes legalizing rape on private property. Roosh claims it was "a thought experiment" or satire—a disclaimer on the post now says as much—and says he doesn't think rape should be legal anywhere. Many protest that Roosh's P.S. isn't authentic. And even if it is, "the idea driving this 'satire' seems to be either that women are usually responsible for their own rapes, or that they routinely call something rape when it isn't," Emily Crockett writes at Vox.
But call it a "thought experiment" or call it trolling, I do think Roosh was being deliberately hyperbolic and provocative, as is his style, and does not believe in literally legalizing rape.
Brown also makes an excellent point about the much smaller furor over Matt Taibbi's somewhat similar writings:
The whole thing calls to mind two more male writers: Matt Taibbi, probably best known for his work at Rolling Stone, and Mark Ames, who now writes for outlets such as Pando. The pair worked together at an English-language newspaper in Russia in the late '90s and subsequently published a book about the experience called The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Within this book, there are scenes of the mostly-male Exile editors sexually harassing their administrative staff—going so far as to tell secretaries they must sleep with them to keep their jobs—and Ames threatening to kill his pregnant Russian girlfriend if she doesn't get an abortion. The men never claimed at the time that it was satire or fiction. In explaining, Ames was prone to saying things like "Russian women, especially on the first date, expect you to rape them."
Despite this, Taibbi and Ames have continued to flourish as leftist writers, and as far as I know no feminist groups or Canadian mayors have tried to prevent either from visiting the country. Perhaps they're just lucky to have come of age in a different Internet era. Perhaps it helps that their politics and progressive credentials are otherwise right.