The Baltimore chapter of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), a radical youth organization, led a militant protest Feb. 6 to combat the meetups led by Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh. He is a racist, sexist, anti-feminist organizer who has written several books detailing his rape of numerous women. His website not only spreads hatred about women, but people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer people. (Trans* is used with an asterisk to indicate the spectrum of all the different genders of people who do not conform to the either/or of male/female or masculine/feminine.)
Followers of his website, Return of Kings, were scheduled to meet up in person on Feb. 6 in 43 cities around the world in order to organize and share tips on how to get away with raping women.
When this was picked up by the news and social media, feminists around the world were outraged and organized counterdemonstrations to disrupt and prevent these meetings of so-called “men’s rights advocates” (MRA). FIST took up the call to action and organized a demonstration in front of South Baltimore’s Cross Street Market where the meetup was scheduled to take place.
News broke on Feb. 3 that Valizadeh was forced to cancel the worldwide meetups after he declared that he and his followers did not feel safe due to radical feminist counterprotests. This was ironic given the fact that their terrorism against women contributes to the lack of safety that women feel every day.
Several dozen activists, mainly women and LGBTQ people, gathered a half hour before the proposed 8 p.m. sexist meet-up. In between militant chants such as “MRA, KKK, f—k with us and you will pay,” many courageous women and survivors spoke out and shared their stories of the trauma that women endure living in a capitalist, patriarchal society.
Other participants spoke about the racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia they face. In addition to protesting against the violence that self-identified “men’s rights advocates” perpetuate against women, activists also called out the cops, pointing out that their history of rape and sexual abuse proves they are no friends of women.
This courageous action, joined by activists all over the world, prevented the MRA sexists from gathering and being able to turn their online hatred into real life violence. It will require militant responses like this in order to ensure that the women’s liberation struggle continues to smash patriarchy and rape culture wherever it occurs.
In this period of reaction against the past victories of women’s struggles, especially for reproductive justice, we must continue to fight back while at the same time acknowledging that the only way to end the oppression of women is with the revolutionary overthrow of the system that perpetuates it: capitalism.
Long live working-class unity against misogyny. Build a workers world!