Risk, Rated X: Geopolitics and the Pickup Game

Vladimir Putin, as imagined by Sarah Palin

In January, the well-known pickup artist (PUA) Roosh V created a sub-forum on his website to discuss the Ukraine conflict, thanks to “heavy interest” in the topic among his fans. This might seem odd to those unfamiliar with the “Seduction Community,” which insists that pop evolutionary psychology, when applied correctly and diligently, will entice women. But “love tourists”—who, Roosh explains, differ from “sex tourists,” since they study what PUAs refer to as “game” to seek out the most “feminine women” around the world instead of paying for the same end goal—are particularly concerned with the state of developing countries like Ukraine, where women are less financially independent and therefore more vulnerable to “Alpha male” advances. (When Roosh, author of the “Bang” series of travel guides, visited Denmark, he was horrified by the country’s thriving social welfare system and autonomous women.)

From PUA forums to Fox News, foreign policy discussion is rife with gender and sexuality tropes. But the stakes in Ukraine are particularly high for the PUA community. When one forum user asked why Ukraine deserved its own sub-forum instead of say, Syria, another responded: “Syria is not a pussy paradise (Muslim country). This is a game forum. How this power struggle affects the behavior of women that live in one of the last European holdouts from significant western influence is the primary concern IMO.”

What will happen if the “pussy paradise” joins the European Union? In Bang Ukraine, Roosh’s last travel guide, Roosh described Russia’s view of Ukraine as a “sturdy whore meant to solely benefit the motherland.” The ladies were the silver lining of “one of the strangest, most fucked-up places” Roosh had ever been: “Ukrainian women are the most feminine I’ve encountered in the world—so feminine that I experienced femininity overload.” Would EU membership make them more impervious to game? Some love tourists are deeply concerned it would.

When asked his “ideal outcome,” Roosh wrote, “Immediate peaceful resolution that doesn’t lead to visa-free travel for Ukrainian women to the EU (they currently need a visa).” Other forum users, however, would prefer war. “I am praying Russia wins this battle,” wrote another.  “I don’t want to see pussy paradise Ukraine join the EU.”

“Bottom line, this better for us guys or worse?” one asked. “If Ukraine moves toward the EU, I think it would be worse as the women will adopt more of the negative Western ways. Maybe I am not seeing it clearly enough.”

“If Ukraine joins the EU, the girls will vanish like cockroaches when the lights are turned on,” one wrote. “It saddens me deeply because Ukrainian girls were always much more accessible than Russian ones,” lamented another. “Joining the EU may reduce overt corruption in favour of systematised ones, but feminism will spread like wildfire and destroy all the traditionalism that lays in that land.”

But how to know for sure? Well, history may repeat itself. “Poland and Romania are already done,” one explained. “They are pro-western and pro-American societies (both being NATO and EU member states). According to Roosh and others, there are already signs of degradation among women in parts of these countries (at least in Poland), so the cancer is already present as far as how women take care of themselves.”

And there are some on-the-ground reports: “After talking to a few girls from Kiev who I’ve known since around 2007, I feel that Kiev’s pussy paradise potential has been permanently damaged,” one wrote. “It’s very sad.”

Others take a more optimistic view. “I think people are overestimating this feminism/progressivism thing,” one wrote. “Like others have said, Poland, the Baltics, Czech Republic etc aren’t all swimming in entitled snarky land whales, and they’ve been in the EU for ages. So it would take decades for Ukraine to become anywhere close to America/Oz/Canada/UK.”

Also, Ukraine’s women might be traumatized from months of conflict: score! “The hotties won’t be venturing outdoors for a while, but the fear these women are experiencing could make pickings VERY strong for the future,” one noted. “Especially for a Westerner coming from a relatively ‘safe’ haven like the UK or US.”

A few believe that feminism might disrupt the country’s pussy potential decades from now, but that there are “nothing but opportunities for western forum members if [Viktor] Yanukovich loses power,” because “spoils goes to the victors” and “any feminism, etc will come a generation or so from significant political change, which is itself probably a generation off.”

“It will take two generations to corrupt them,” another wrote. “It is your grandchildren’s problem. I will leave it that.”

When forum members aren’t debating the geopolitics of pussy like an X-rated game of Risk, they’re analyzing breaking news using their preferred terms. One user explained how Putin vs. Obama is a classic Alpha vs. Beta male struggle: “Putin is not afraid, he is confident, and willing to call Obama’s meaningless bluff’s. Obama as a leader, thinks that (being the Beta he is) if everyone just sits down, and talks this over, it will all end well; it won’t.”

Sexism affects the perception and practice of geopolitics beyond rants on a pathetic sub-forum.

“If Russia and the west go to war, Ukraine would benefit,” just like “a chick with 2 betas fighting over her,” wrote another. “Anyone else get the mental image of Putin doing the whole ‘yeah yeah, whatever you say’ with the US diplomatic team on the phone like the US is a nagging wife? Or is it just me?” one asked. “It seems like our rhetoric is getting more and more out of hand because our fearless (reckless) leaders seem to realize they’re being ignored and are getting increasingly bitchy (like an ignored nagging wife).”

Predictably, the PUAs are also fixated on Putin’s alpha male-ness, posting memes of Putin’s smiling face with the words “Ukraine? No. Mykraine” stamped on top. One “Innovative Casanova” on Roosh’s forums is skeptical: “To the guys that think Putin is preserving the old ways- he’s just as much a capitalist as any of the major world’s leaders . . . this isn’t about keeping pussy pure, it’s about money.” But “love tourists” aren’t the only ones putting Putin on a testosterone-laced pedestal.

Sexism affects the perception and practice of geopolitics beyond rants on a pathetic sub-forum. While Roosh and his minions may take a more radical (and ridiculous) stance, their comments are parroted by some of the most powerful politicians and commentators in the country.

Media Matters recently compiled a stunning array of quotes from U.S. conservatives who feel Obama can’t measure up to Putin in terms of virility. After all, what’s manlier than unilateralism—along with domestic policies that stifle gays, women, and dissenters?

“Putin sees himself as a macho man who’s going to do pretty much what he wants,” said Fox News talking head Bill O’Reilly. “The president sees himself as a renaissance man who wants to accommodate.” K.T. McFarland, another Fox News analyst, tweeted, “Putin seizes countries, Obama threatens maybe to kick Russia out of the G-8 club. Bet Putin’s sorry now! Winners write history, not whiners.” Fox even published a “must-watch highlight reel of Putin doing macho things,” including karate and riding a horse shirtless.

As of mid-March, gendered pontificating continued apace both among prominent conservatives and on Roosh’s “Ukraine Conflict Lounge” subforum. One PUA shared his thoughts on why it would be better for Crimea and East Ukraine to go to Russia: “It seems to me this will insulate Crimea from the feminism . . . that will over take Ukraine as they move towards the EU. Fat feminists, slut walks, and mass muslim immigration could be in store for the parts of Ukraine that wish to join Europe instead of Russia.” Meanwhile, Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity that the perception of Obama’s “potency” is one of “weakness.”

“Lookit, people are lookin’ at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil,” she said. “They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”

Casual misogyny knows no borders. One proactive PUA, thinking outside of the box, suggested “Twitter game”: “There are lots of emotionally vulnerable quality Ukrainian women tweeting about events who are happy to reach out to informed, concerned guys from abroad. . . . Build a pipeline.”

Katie J.M. Baker is a reporter who last wrote for Dissent about Roosh’s failure to “bang” Denmark.

For more questionable reactions to the crisis in Ukraine, see Colin Kinniburgh’s “Putin to West: Go Frack Yourself.”

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The Kurds

[W]hen we refer to all Kurdish fighters synonymously, we simply blur the fact that they have very different politics. . . right now, yes, the people are facing the Islamic State threat, so it’s very important to have a unified focus. But the truth is, ideologically and politically these are very, very different systems. Actually almost opposite to each other. —Dilar Dirik, “Rojava vs. the World,” February 2015

The Kurds, who share ethnic and cultural similarities with Iranians and are mostly Muslim by religion (largely Sunni but with many minorities), have long struggled for self-determination. After World War I, their lands were divided up between Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. In Iran, though there have been small separatist movements, Kurds are mostly subjected to the same repressive treatment as everyone else (though they also face Persian and Shi’ite chauvinism, and a number of Kurdish political prisoners were recently executed). The situation is worse in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, where the Kurds are a minority people subjected to ethnically targeted violations of human rights.  

Iraq: In 1986–89, Saddam Hussein conducted a genocidal campaign in which tens of thousands were murdered and thousands of Kurdish villages destroyed, including by bombing and chemical warfare. After the first Gulf War, the UN sought to establish a safe haven in parts of Kurdistan, and the United States and UK set up a no-fly zone. In 2003, the Kurdish peshmerga sided with the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein. In 2005, after a long struggle with Baghdad, the Iraqi Kurds won constitutional recognition of their autonomous region, and the Kurdistan Regional Government has since signed oil contracts with a number of Western oil companies as well as with Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan has two main political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), both clan-based and patriarchal.

Turkey: For much of its modern history, Turkey has pursued a policy of forced assimilation towards its minority peoples; this policy is particularly stringent in the case of the Kurds—until recently referred to as the “mountain Turks”—who make up 20 percent of the total population. The policy has included forced population transfers; a ban on use of the Kurdish language, costume, music, festivals, and names; and extreme repression of any attempt at resistance. Large revolts were suppressed in 1925, 1930, and 1938, and the repression escalated with the formation of the PKK as a national liberation party, resulting in civil war in the Kurdish region from 1984 to 1999.

Syria: Kurds make up perhaps 15 percent of the population and live mostly in the northeastern part of Syria. In 1962, after Syria was declared an Arab republic, a large number of Kurds were stripped of their citizenship and declared aliens, which made it impossible for them to get an education, jobs, or any public benefits. Their land was given to Arabs. The PYD was founded in 2003 and immediately banned; its members were jailed and murdered, and a Kurdish uprising in Qamishli was met with severe military violence by the regime. When the uprising against Bashar al Assad began as part of the Arab Spring, Kurds participated, but after 2012, when they captured Kobani from the Syrian army, they withdrew most of their energy from the war against Assad in order to set up a liberated area. For this reason, some other parts of the Syrian resistance consider them Assad’s allies. The Kurds in turn cite examples of discrimination against them within the opposition.