Last week, a blog called Return of Kings ran an article titled "5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder," which went massively viral on Facebook. The story, which contains list points like "Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks," "She's fragile and vulnerable," and "She's better in bed," currently has 155,000 likes on Facebook and has been shared on Twitter almost 4,000 times.
The site's publisher, Daryush Valizadeh, who goes by Roosh V (pictured below), has defended the piece. He recently published a response on Return of Kings, writing "I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in it that endorses eating disorders or slanders those who have them."
Roosh V gained notoriety in his own right in 2007 when he became a popular voice among the pickup-artist crowd. He has published a series of travel guides that he calls Bang Guides that give men tips for seducing and having sex with women from different countries.
BuzzFeed spoke with the author of "5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder" via email, he goes by the handle Tuthmosis.
How long have you been writing for Return of Kings?
Tuthmosis: I started writing for Return of Kings at its very inception. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary with a series of animated GIFs.
Where were you working before? Just generally what's your writing background like?
T: I've worked as a writer, in one shape or another, for several years. I've done a fair amount of agency, freelance, magazine, and ghostwriting work in every major format. I credit my fine education in the liberal arts for my above-average writing abilities.
How did you get started with Return of Kings?
T: Roosh V, the publisher, contacted me directly and asked me if I'd be interested in an exciting new project he was developing. I was all over it like a girl on an iPhone.
What is it about the site that interests you?
T: Return of Kings fills a desperate need for a "safe space" on the internet for men to discuss issues that matter to them — that is, have good old-fashioned "guy talk" — without the fear of being banned, being labeled "women-haters," or having to radically self-censor their views. This, unfortunately, isn't the case in most major online communities, from Reddit to Facebook. In those places, if a girl hits the report button, regardless of the merits of the situation, you're out. Mainstream quote-unquote "men's sites" dole out diluted, or outright useless, advice — stuff like "Top 10 Flowers to Bring Your Girlfriend After She Cheats on You with Another Man." Our site is an effort to push back on this lamentable state of affairs by providing a forum to discuss real male issues, share tips on self-improvement, and have a few laughs without having to worry that you'll be branded "creepy" or dangerous for failing to genuflect to the current orthodoxy. It's what our fathers and grandfathers had when they went to get a haircut, took their car into the shop, or played poker with their friends.
Your articles are obviously controversial. Do you experience a lot of blowback from readers, do you get hate mail, etc.?
T: I get hate comments and nastygrams on pretty much a daily basis. These usually consist of the same small set of components. A lot of them open with a mind-numbingly clichéd internet phrase conveying disbelief, like, "Wow. Just wow," or "What the actual fuck?" It then proceeds to some uncreative and, by now, played-out portmanteau insult — things like "fuck-wit" or "douche-nozzle." A fair amount of my hate mail includes plain-and-simple (and probably illegal) threats of graphic violence and mutilation. The closings tend to fall into one of very few categories: speculation on my penis size, inferences about my relationship with my mother, theories that I live in a basement, and suggestions that I'm probably a virgin. Paradoxically, I'm often called a rapist in the very same breath.
If so, what's your typical response to that kind of thing? Do you feel like people aren't getting it or just misunderstanding the point?
T: My response is generally what it is to most female histrionics I encounter: bemused and condescending laughter followed by ridicule.
What's your dating life like? You write a lot of dating articles — do they reflect your romantic life or is it more of a general thing?
T: My dating life varies depending on my relationship status. Contrary to my detractors' beliefs, I'm perfectly capable of cultivating a healthy, long-term, monogamous relationship with an attractive flesh-and-blood female. When that's the case, we do cutesy relationship stuff, like try a new recipe or go on a hike. At the moment, I'm a bachelor, which is another thing entirely. I'm in the midst of what we call in the business "crushing ass on the regular." In everyday terms, that means "dating." I meet girls in my normal, everyday life — like at the supermarket or bookstore — and find some silly (and probably transparent) excuse to talk to them. If we connect on any level, we go on a date a few days later. The consensus is that I'm charming and interesting on those dates.
Do you use a pen name because of the controversial nature of what you're putting together or is it just because of your personal brand online?
T: I love how everyone just assumes Tuthmosis couldn't be part of my legal name. Writers much greater than I'll ever be have used a nom de plume, which is probably the best description for my relationship to the Tuthmosis appellation. It started off as my handle in some online contexts, but stuck as I built up a little body of work under that name; so it has become a "brand" of sorts, by accident. But given the huge number of death threats that I get, it's probably best that it worked out that way.
What is your day-to-day like at Return of Kings?
T: We have a penthouse office in a nice building in the city. It overlooks a golf course and some trendy shops. The boss has a thing where one of us is responsible for bringing in bagels and schmear every morning, and we usually sit around munching on those while we discuss strategy. We then go to our individual offices to "concept," which really just means goofing off on the internet until noon, when we go to lunch. I, and a few of the guys, go to the same Indian restaurant practically every day, despite the fact that it gives me stomach woes like 25% of the time and the owner's son pesters us for "interracial" dating advice every time. Apart from our real work, we do silly things like make photocopies of our ass cheeks and leave them in the tray for other guys to find. Even though it's an old joke, it always gets some laughs. Occasionally, we go to the happy hour at a local martini bar and try to "fornicate" — in the words of the immortal Mike Tyson — with one of the low-hanging-fruit cougars. Overall, it's a good place to work.
Are there any women in TV/music/pop culture in general that you're super into?
T: I love female vocalists, so yes. The '90s were a fruitful time for angsty, depressing girl music that I'm sufficiently comfortable in my manliness to admit I enjoy. We're talking about stuff like Alanis Morissette, Jewel, and The Cranberries. In a more contemporary sense, I like Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lana Del Rey, and Jenny Lewis. My musical taste is admittedly proto-hipster, but let's be clear: The rest of me isn't.
If you could tell people who read what you write and get upset about it one thing, what would that be?
T: Turn off the computer, go outside for a while, and get some perspective. There are real problems in this world. For starters, the government is a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational corporations, secret agencies are monitoring your every communication, and there are only like 400 Siberian tigers left in the whole world. Having your feelings hurt by a few words written by a stranger on the internet isn't very high on that list.
Do you ever get people who write to you who are super excited about what you're doing? If so, what kinds of things do they say about it?
T: Absolutely. Many of my readers enjoy reading about men's issues in the light and irreverent but still serious tone that I strive for, and they tell me this with sufficient regularity to keep me going. I also get positive responses to particular pieces that I've done. These run the gamut from simple gratitude from guys who have used some dating tips I've given them to land a girl they were interested in, to guys who say my stuff has changed their perspectives on social relations for the better. I also hear from women. Some write in to simply tell me that I'm "100% right" about what women want and how they think. Others inform me that it's "refreshing" to hear how men really think "for once." Still others lament that most young women today are force-fed a set of "pretty lies" that don't do them any favors in the long run. In fact, one of my favorite notes I've ever received is from a woman. In it, she says: "I hope you are not deterred by sensitive, righteous, overeducated people who are trying too hard to be politically correct. Your work, although straightforward and quite controversial, is good, and deserves praise. Continue to be 'offensive,' the world needs it these days. Thank you!"
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ryan Broderick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.