'Pro-masculine' group cancels meeting amidst backlash

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A Bay area group got a lot of attention Wednesday surrounding what it calls its "pro-masculine" agenda and a world wide event scheduled for Saturday.

The group Return of Kings planned a meeting at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa, as well as cities in 43 countries.

The group's website is known for posting articles calling for limitations on women's voting rights and claiming their value depends on fertility and beauty.

It also said women, homosexuals and transsexuals were not welcome at Saturday's meetup.

Drawing the most criticism is an article titled "How to Stop Rape" published by Roosh V., or Daryush Valizadeh, the group's founder and meeting organizer.

The article reads, in part, "make rape legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds."

Valizadeh has since gone on to say the article was satire.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a statement after hearing about the group's meeting, saying, "as a father of two girls and a mayor of a city that has no room for this vile rhetoric, I'm disgusted that a group such as Return of Kings would congregate in Curtis Hixon. Their twisted logic and violent and vulgar behavior has no place in this world, let alone Tampa."

Meanwhile, another local group planned what its Facebook page calls a "peaceful protest against anti-womens rights group."

"It immediately ignited of bit of a fire inside me," said Jon Larson, who organized the protest.

"Pretty much any outlet where people can use their voice right now, they are shouting it from the rooftops in disgust, to think that this is going to happen in our city," said Matthew Feck.

Larson and Feck worried that, even if the Return of Kings website claimed some of its extreme viewpoints as satire, the damage could still be done.

"It's like a poison, it can spread, anybody could be motivated to actually carry it out even if it is somebody else's joke," Larson said.

"This is like a cookbook, a recipe for disaster," Feck said. "It doesn't seem like a hoax anymore. It seems like something that is legitimate and you can't trust these kinds of radicals."

Throughout the day Wednesday, the Return of Kings page posted several updates on the meetup event as the negative reception grew. First, there was talk of holding private meetings.

"The world is moving against us. I've gotten reports of over a dozen organized protests at our meeting points... Since this meetup was never intended as a confrontation with unattractive women and their enablers, I'm moving to save as many of these meetups as I can before Saturday so that men can still meet in private away from a loud, obnoxious, dishonest, and potentially violent mob."

Facing mounting backlash, Return of Kings eventually announced Wednesday evening it had cancelled the February 6 meetup event. Valizadeh wrote, "I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time. While I can't stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision.."

Tampa's group of peaceful protesters says it still plans to peacefully gather on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park in support of women and all people.

"We are not scared, we are not going to back down," Feck said. "We stand with our women, we stand with our people of color, we stand with everybody. We are all the same. We are not xenophobic. We are not going to be homophobic. We are not going to tell an entire group of people they can't come to this park and they should be scared to come to this park when their tax money went to make it."

"This isn't just about women's rights," Larson said. "This isn't just about feminism. This is about people taking a stance for what they see is right and wrong."

We reached out to Valizadeh for further explanation of the website as well as the meetup but got no response.