Despite this, demonstrators in Scotland resolved to continue with their planned actions—not because we thought that any of Roosh’s followers would be bold enough to turn up, but because the ideas of Roosh V and his cabal of rape-apologists have started a much wider conversation about rape culture and sexual harassment and abuse of women and girls.
These topics, which often receive little coverage in the mainstream media, have been catapulted into the public consciousness: and people are listening. And people are acting.
A handful of journalists and commentators have argued that Roosh has successfully “trolled” the entire country; that press, politicians and petitioners have succeeded in giving his hateful ideology a platform, to spread his message and troll feminists online.
If Roosh V’s intention was to simply piss off feminists and grab himself some spotlight, his plan has backfired spectacularly. I attended the demonstration in George Square, surrounded by sisters from the RISE Women’s Network, as well as hundreds of other women from no political organisation and from every generation, socio-economic and ethnic background.
Men attended in great numbers: demonstrators were festooned with glow sticks, face paint and glitter and waved home-made banners and placards that ranged from hard-hitting political statements to hilariously satirical and light-hearted quips.
Messages were strewn in chalk across the Square. In a nod to the Russian feminist activists, Pussy Riot, demonstrators devised their own slogan for a Scottish feminist fight-back, and the words “Fanny Rammy” appeared emblazoned in glorious pink across the ground.
Whilst we were all brought to the Square on that cold and wet February night because of our anger at the hate-speech of Roosh V, we stood united in an atmosphere I can only described as celebratory. Our anger was dulled by a feeling of collective solidarity and a gathering that was more akin to a festival than a protest.
What had begun as a feminist backlash against misogyny had blossomed into a celebration of equality and a symbol of our belief in the power, strength and autonomy of all women. The people who stood in George Square that night didn’t feel “trolled.”
They felt powerful: they had reclaimed their streets, reclaimed their Square, and we used the space to celebrate women. It was powerful. Long may it continue.
What we must not do is let this conversation stop when Roosh V inevitably fades from the front pages. Roosh V represents the extreme of a culture which is still alive and kicking.
Rape culture is about so much more than one self-publicised misogynist and his fanboys. Rape culture is when our society lectures young women to change their behaviour to avoid being assaulted. It’s there every time we experience sexual violence on our streets, in our workplaces and in our homes.
We see it when women are denied the right to choose, when pop songs tell women “you know you want it” or when someone tells a casual joke about rape. It’s everywhere: and Roosh V, with his extreme rhetoric, has helped to galvanise a movement against it. He’s started a Fanny Rammy, and women will win the fight.