Trigger warning for discussion of abuse, rape, gaslighting, mental illness.
Unless you have been living in a literal cave, you’ll be aware of pick up artist Roosh V’s global ‘tribal’ meetings, the subsequent protesting of these meetings, and their ‘cancellation’.
I don’t want to talk about Roosh V, instead I want to talk about your comrade, who has a lot more in common with Roosh V than you might know, hope, or acknowledge. I want to talk about how Roosh’s behaviours and tactics are not unique to those to our ideological right, and why if you won’t treat your Roosh V like comrade like Roosh V, I don’t want your solidarity.
1: Rapists aren’t just right-wing.
Rapists and abusers exist in all political groupings, across all sections of the political spectrum. Rapists can be left-wing. Rapists can be communists. Rapists can be anarchists. Rapists can be feminists. (I mean, they can’t actually, but they can espouse these politics and exist in these groups). And this doesn’t just mean a tokenistic nod to the SWP, the SSP, the RMT, or any other high-profile case that takes your fancy. This means your local anti-cuts group, your feminist society, or your trade union branch; the complacency that comes with the ‘at least we’re not as bad as the SWP!’ allows sexual violence to breed uninhibited.
2: Pick up artist tactics aren’t just used by pick-up artists.
As much as Roosh V might like the think he invented manipulating women into having sex with them, he didn’t; the tactics of negging, gaslighting, emotional manipulation, trust-gaining and isolation are all used by leftists. They’re not always used to coerce people into sex, sometimes these tactics can be used to establish group loyalty, to cover up stories about groups, to make people do labour they don’t want to do, and to join groups in the first place. But they are also used to force romantic and sexual relationships, usually between older male activists and younger, newer women, and that’s fucked up. I am not the only left-wing woman who has experienced these tactics, and I know these incidents are not isolated.
3: Roosh V provides the perfect cover-story.
Allowing yourself to be seen opposing someone like Roosh V allows you to be seen opposing rape culture, sexual violence, manipulation, and rape apology. It allows people who are otherwise silent in their support of survivors to opportunistically gain pro-survivor feminist points. More dangerously, it allows abusers themselves to gain credibility as someone opposed to sexual violence, and it allows them to gain trust.
4: No space for rapists.
The left seems to have been pretty united in its desire to no-platform Roosh V, and to limit his access to physical and political space. So much so, that people are even supporting him being banned from the country, or beaten up for entering a city. So why, when survivors ask much less of the people who have *directly physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abused them, personally, literally*, are leftists unwilling to comply? Why will we provide physical and political space to an abusive person just because otherwise they say “rent is too high!” and “workers deserve rights!”?
5: Roosh V doesn’t share our language.
But lefty abusers do, and they know how to weaponise it. The best defence that Roosh V has is that ‘it’s satire’, which anyone with even 3% of a working brain knows is bollocks. Lefty abusers, however, have a whole arsenal of radical language to undermine survivors, highlight their innocence, or their desire to change. Lefty abusers can weaponise mental illness; they can weaponise their own mental illness in order to evade culpability, or they can weaponise the mental illness of a survivor in order to obscure facts, gaslight survivors into changing their story, or discredit survivors as reliable sources. Lefty abusers can weaponise frameworks of accountability and reform, often pitting the two as oppositional. How can accountability help someone change because accountability just means being mean and people are never going to change if you’re just mean to them, after all! Lefty abusers can weaponise the language of carceral feminism and bourgeois justice, because safer spaces and social exclusion replicate state systems and borders, so you can’t use those! But also the police and courts are bourgeois and anti-communist, so you can’t use those either! All in all, this means that Roosh V can remain a ‘Bad Person’ whilst your abusive comrade is clearly a ‘Good Person’.
6: They both weaponise sexual liberation.
The idea that women nowadays just have sex with everyone is a staple of rape culture. If women are so ‘easy’, then raping them is pretty difficult, because they always want it. This weaponises sexual liberation against us, and just because your comrade doesn’t openly call women ‘worthless whores’ who are ‘easy’ because they have no ‘self-respect’, doesn’t mean that’s not what they think. Relating to the previous point, your comrade is just probably clued up enough to use the language of sexual liberation as code for ‘easy’. Sometimes, lefty men will portray this as a positive thing, imagine your manarchist bro talking about how much he loves how liberated you are, how free you are. Sometimes, lefty men will portray this as a negative thing, see: SWP disputes committee questioning Comrade Delta’s survivor’s story on the basis of her sexual history. Culturally, the left is a hyper-sexual place, with little space for asexual people, survivors, sex workers etc to talk about sex, sexual liberation and feminism, and whilst this is the case, sexual liberation frameworks will always be used to silence survivors.
Roosh V is minimally different from your abusive comrades. It is only through your own misogyny and lack of respect for left-wing women and survivors that you will see Roosh V as a threat, but not That Person in your anti-cuts group that you keep hearing things about. If you are willing to no-platform Roosh V, why won’t you tell your mate he can’t come to meetings any more? If you’re willing to sign a petition leveraging border controls against a man, why won’t you support that woman going to the cops? If you’re willing to organise, attend, or boost a protest/rally/picket against Roosh V, but remain silent when survivors need less glamorous support, why? And just because you see someone say Roosh V is bad and rape culture is bad doesn’t mean they’re not an abuser or apologist themselves. Unless you’re willing to treat every accusation as seriously as you treat those against Roosh V, you’re not my comrade and I don’t want your solidarity.
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