Attacked Not Defeated CEO, Phoebe Tansley writes on open letter to Daryush Valizadeh also known as Roosh V, an American anti-feminist writer and self-titled ‘pick-up artist’ authoring books on how to get women into bed. Recently a campaign was launched to remove his publications from Amazon, on the basis that he not only teaches readers ‘how to rape’ and advocates for the legalisation of rape, but also admits to having committed sexual assault himself.
Let me introduce myself; I’m Phoebe. I’m an advocate for the prevention of sexual violence, a feminist and a survivor of rape. So according to your beliefs, I am living in denial, I’m a pain in the arse and I’m a liar. Hi!
I founded an organisation in Uganda three years ago to support women who have been sexually assaulted. I believe in education and empowerment and open discussions about gender based violence and how it can be stopped. Therefore I read your proposal to legalise all rape occurring within a private setting, with an open mind.
My reaction is a combination of repulsed incomprehension, exasperation and fascination.
Although you openly admit to having raped various women in your series of ‘Bang’ books, you don’t seem to appreciate the reality of what you have done. It seems to me that you view rape as a label more than an act. It’s ruining your fun. According to you, if women would just accept that they are going to have sex if they enter onto private premises with a man, then rape would seldom happen. Am I right or am I right guys?! *Raises hand for a high-five* *Left hanging, awkward silence, proceeds to smooth hair over*. Carrying on…
I have encountered the objectification of women in many instances, but your own twisted take on it is stunning – profound even. Not only do you fail to acknowledge that we as human beings have the cognitive ability (and human right – those pesky things) to make choices about our bodies and the verbal capacity to express those choices, you also disregard the fact we are one of the only mammals on earth who have sex for pleasure.
You make a flippant comparison between a woman choosing to visit a man’s apartment to somebody walking through a shady neighbourhood. You say that a person walking alone at night is asking to be mugged by choosing that particular route and therefore equally a woman who chooses to enter a private premises is surely consenting to sex. You go on to state that society doesn’t ‘teach ghetto kids not to steal’ so why is society trying to encourage you not to rape?
I’m afraid it just doesn’t hold up.
Your rationale is obsolete because BREAKING NEWS; we generally do as a society uphold a strong belief that stealing is wrong – maybe you missed the memo. The point you are making is actually the complete opposite of what anti-violence campaigners like me use as a basis to change attitudes. Let me break it down for you:
If you were mugged on the street, or had your home broken into while you were sleeping, we would not blame you. We would not say you ‘asked for it’ by walking down the street or by forgetting to close your kitchen window. We would direct blame fully onto the perpetrator because they committed a crime. In these cases, accountability is mostly very clear cut. The change in narrative that occurs when the crime is of a sexual nature (and I use that term in a technical sense rather than a descriptive one), is illogical, conducive to victim-blaming and massively damaging.
I want you to take responsibility for yourself and for your role as somebody whose written and verbal expressions are accessible to the masses, but I know that’s an ambitious aim. You claim that the sexual and gender based violence experienced by one in three women in their lifetime is ‘preventable’, if only women would stop putting themselves in situations where they could be assaulted. Are you then saying that men are not capable of controlling themselves? Don’t you think that is insulting to the very men you are trying to influence?
Take time to reflect on the concept of consent and that when it is not enthusiastically given, or CANNOT be given, lives can be shattered as a result.
Even if you feel no empathy for the women you are sexually violating, ultimately your behaviour is going to get you nowhere apart from on the sex offenders list. And if, as you say, sex is just ‘what you do’ then why not have a go at exercising respect – for yourself as well as your sexual partners.
To sign the petition to stop Amazon selling Roosh V’s ‘Bang’ books, click here.