SALT LAKE CITY -- A group calling themselves "Return of Kings" that has come under fire for a message that some say advocates for rape has canceled a series of meetings scheduled around the nation after public backlash.
In an announcement posted on their website, the group stated that they are cancelling meetings scheduled for various locations on February 6. A previous posting indicated some of those meetings would be held in Provo and Salt Lake City.
The post states: "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."
The group was the target of intense online criticism for what some call a message that promotes rape culture and sexual violence.
On their website, they also push for what they call ‘neomasculinity', which promotes traditional gender roles, claims gender equality is a myth, and states that homosexuality is artificial and deviant.
“I found their website, I found a lot of horrifying things on there,” said University of Utah student Joe Paine.
Paine, upon hearing of the planned meet-up, decided to help organize a rally at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Salt Lake City Public Library amphitheater—the time and place previously listed as an ROK meet-up spot.
He said they still plan to go through with the rally, which will feature posters and speakers promoting equality, despite ROK’s call for cancellation.
“I think it’s good… if we have an equal rights rally regardless of what they’re saying or what they’re doing,” he said.
The bulk of the push back against ROK stems from a blog post from February of last year titled "How To Stop Rape" in which the author states that the issue with many rapes is that the woman is "not responsible for her actions."
The post states in part: "I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: 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."
The author states that if rape was legal on private property, women would "protect her body in the same manner that she protects her purse and smartphone. If rape becomes legal, a girl will not enter an impaired state of mind where she can't resist being dragged off to a bedroom with a man who she is unsure of."
The crux of the argument made in the post seems to be that if women were to fear rape at all times, they would never spend time alone with a man who they weren't willing to have sex with, and thus rape would be eliminated because, in the author's view, women would no longer be in compromising situations.
The author has since taken to Twitter, where he states the post was satire and that he and his supporters do not advocate for legalizing rape.
“Satire or not, it’s not funny,” said one Salt Lake City resident, who wanted to remain anonymous. “It’s not a joke. You don’t joke about something like that.”
The woman said when she saw the blog post, as well as many of the website articles, she was appalled at what she read.
The website offers a "top 35" list for newcomers to Return of Kings, which includes articles like: "This Accidental Experiment Shows The Superiority of Patriarchy", "Women Should Not Be Allowed To Vote" and "The Intellectual Inferiority Of Women" as well as "Why White Knights Voluntarily Enslave Themselves To Women."
“Being a man is fine, being a man is great,” The woman said, adding, “To use that as an excuse to demean women is just—that’s not a man, at all.”
FOX 13 News' Lauren Steinbrecher attempted to reach out to the author of that post for comment on this story as well as every other person listed as a staff member for the blog, however the group's website states they only accept emails from women if they include photos of themselves, a condition FOX 13 would not meet.