At least 50 protesters – made up of men, women, young and old – gathered in front of Central Avenue near the UNM Bookstore Saturday evening in opposition to self-proclaimed “neomasculinist” Darush “Roosh V” Valizadeh’s now-cancelled follower meetups, one of which was scheduled to begin at that location.
The protest mobilized in a matter of minutes just before 8 p.m., the time during which Valizadeh blogged that his followers should rendezvous for a meeting. Valizadeh wrote on his blog that he hoped these meetings would result in the start of several “tribes” of like-minded followers around the world.
He then announced on social media that these meetings – which he dubbed International Meetup Day – were cancelled because he was concerned about the safety of those attending.
That didn’t stop local opposition from making a statement.
“It’s really important that people see just that the public disagrees with these people,” protester Sarah Apelian said.
For about 40 minutes participants erupted into chants of “No Roosh V in Albuquerque” and “My body is private property” while others held up signs, one of which read “Roosh V This is far from over...#Expect Us”, held by a person in a Guy Fawkes mask.
The Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico also tabled the event. Although not participating in the chants or holding signs, representatives said they were there to help provide outreach to anyone who might be interested.
Valizadeh has been criticized by many on social media for his suggestion in early 2015 that rape should be legalized on private property as a means of eradicating it.
Valerie Torres, a member of a local Anonymous chapter, said she was really glad to see the community engaging in opposition of Valizadeh and his ideals, especially as the would-be-meetup with Valizadeh’s followers was scheduled to occur at the bookstore.
Torres said that was when Valizadeh’s actions became “egregious.”
“You know it’s a party area, I mean duh, it’s college, it’s what people do,” she said. “You know there’s inebriated women, you know there’s inebriated men and when you’re inebriated you lose your common sense. That doesn’t mean that consent flies out the window.”
Torres said Valizadeh’s philosophy – which includes the idea of reverting back to traditional gender roles to preserve the integrity of the “family unit” – hurts everyone and has no place in modern society.
“I’m so glad that there’s so much support to keep our students safe, our daughters safe, our...anybody in our community. And it doesn’t just go for women, it really isn’t a women-only issue,” she said. “It applies to all of us, whether you are a woman, whether you are a man, whether you are a homosexual, metrosexual, straight, transgender, everything in between.”
Torres said that people have the right to do and say what they want, until it leads to the detriment of others, as she said Valizadeh has done.
She specifically called Valizadeh’s ideas barbaric and outlandish.
“It’s completely unacceptable. You don’t put out fire by putting more gasoline on it,” she said, referring to his pro-rape legalization suggestions.
Several cars drove by and honked in support of the protest, eliciting cheers from the crowd. At around 8:40 p.m. one individual thanked the women for participating, and the men in the crowd for supporting them.
Gabriel Garcia, a CNM student, said that despite the official meeting being cancelled, it was well worth it for the community to come together and support each other.
“There were still a lot of issues that people wanted to talk about and come together as a community and address this kind of disgusting behavior because that’s not what we want in our city, obviously,” he said. “I think it’s beautiful that people like this could come together and we can really empower each other, because that’s what this is all about.”
Torres said she was also happy with how many braved the cold weather to come to their community’s defense.
“Yes we don our masks, but look how many people are out here, unafraid, saying ‘Hey, I’m here, this is my city, you’re not welcome here and neither are your ideas,’” she said. “And it’s a beautiful thing.”
David Lynch is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.