McLeod: Like Watson, we must confront misogyny head-on

No politician is perfect, and certainly not Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. There are many valid reasons to disagree with him, whether it be transit, budgets or development decisions, but we should all agree with him in his rejection of misogyny and the Pick-Up Artist movement.

It all came about when the mayor got wind of the upcoming appearance in Ottawa of Roosh V, the “Pick-Up Artist”, or PUA, behind the “Return of Kings” blog. The blog and blogger rail against feminism, long for so-called “traditional sex roles” and has argued rape should be legal in private homes.

The mayor didn’t tread lightly when responding to the news that Roosh V is planning to come to Ottawa, tweeting, “Your pro-rape, misogynistic, homophobic garbage is not welcome in Ottawa”.

Good for him. The PUA community is a stain on society. They’re a scourge, a cancer. We’d be better off without such an anachronistic, predatory mindset poisoning young men. I will stand with Watson in saying that Roosh V and the PUA community is unwelcome.

Except that isn’t completely true. It was only last July that Ottawa was confronted with one of its own PUAs. Luke Howard would take to the streets of Ottawa, chatting with women. Well, he was doing more than just chatting. He was harassing women and videotaping them. These videos were to serve as teaching tools for other men so that they, too, could … I don’t know, harass women on the street, I guess.

It was gross and it was threatening. He wasn’t some peaceful, charming man just saying “hello.” He was aggressive and confrontational. Women felt uncomfortable and intimidated.

This is exactly what Roosh V and his ilk are doing. In their desire to demonstrate what big manly men they are, they’re making the world that much worse for women. Recently, the news has been full of stories demonstrating that rape culture is alive and well in Canada. Any notion that we’re in a post-misogynist, post-feminism world is pure fantasy.

And every member of our community needs to hold fast and expel PUAs from our society. That means not giving them venues to preach hate. It means confronting their sexism whenever it arises. And it means believing and supporting women when they tell us they’ve been threatened or worse.

After this is published, I know what’s going to happen. There will be PUA sycophants attacking me. I’ll be called a “mangina” a “beta” or a “white knight”. I know the score; I’ve written about this sort of thing in the past. The invectives hurled by these pathetic little beings will be so biting that I’ll barely be able to get out of bed for a second or two.

But I won’t receive rape threats. I won’t get death threats. No one will talk with glee about the violence they will inflict against my body and my will. I won’t have to worry about men stalking me or attacking me. I’m won’t be grabbed on the street and violated. I don’t have these worries because I’m not a woman.

This is why it important for men to stand up against the hateful rants and sexist propaganda of misogynists like Roosh V, and why it was significant that Jim Watson took such a public stance. The PUA community spreads a breed of toxic masculinity that must be countered. The notion that men should be kings seeking conquest over women’s bodies is a concept that must be shown to be wrong by words and actions.

Jonathan McLeod is an Ottawa writer. Follow him on Twitter here.

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