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I Was the Hostess at a Pick Up Artist's Seminar

05/08/2015 20:11 BST | Updated 05/08/2016 10:59 BST

I have a problem. I hate-read. Call it a hobby, a pastime or a pathology, I came across The Red Pill when I was traveling in Asia, it's bitter ideology in such jarring contrast with my own, progressive feminist views and was instantly hooked. Which is where I found Roosh V.

Roosh, an expatriate of the US who left to trawl poorer parts of the world for women ostensibly 'unspoiled' by Western culture, is the creator of his own series of 'Bang' books and the notorious centre of the manosphere, Return of Kings. Like an addict meticulously picking the carpet for forgotten crumbs of crack, I consumed his entire, ahem, oeuvre, and was fascinated, the nausea rising in my throat with every click. And when I heard he was seeking hostesses for the London stop of his 'World Tour', I couldn't resist getting in contact, to get a first hand look at exactly what type of man would pay to see him talk. And there was another reason.

As a mixed-race pragmatist and having seen darker parts of the world, I'd grown disillusioned with what feminism was turning into. Co-opted and petty, I failed to understand exactly what people like Lindy West were trying to achieve with 'fat acceptance', or events like Slutwalk, that all seemed like half-baked, self-serving distractions that draw attention to exciting pictures of themselves on their Facebooks, with 'slut' daubed across their chests in lipstick, and away from women who sorely needed real 'empowerment'. Men like Roosh were obviously at another ridiculous end of the scale, but was there any value in what they had to say?

I arrived at the venue in Knightsbridge flustered and hot from the tube delays and oppressive London heat. I shook Roosh's hand, who was pleasant and taller than I imagined. He gave me a rundown of my duties, before dashing off to help set up the auditorium. It was an hour before the talk was due to start, but already, a steady stream of Red Pillers had begun arriving. I was surprised to see a mix. There were attractive businessmen in their 50s, students, hipsters who had presumably made their way down from Shoreditch especially, as well as the type of people you'd expect at an event run by a PUA. A shuffling, odd looking fellow who went by the name of 'Rusty Nails', a few acne-dotted nervy looking guys in their early twenties, as well as someone who I can only describe as the love child of Boris Johnson and Aleister Crowley, an eccentric public school boy who refused to wear his assigned name tag as 'it would ruin the line of one's suit' and made for interesting conversation with during the intervals.

The BBC also attended, to the surprise of all of us, none of whom were informed prior by Roosh. I was briefly interviewed and the talk discussing the evils of feminism, the west, its degeneracy, as well as how to find women to be with in foreign countries was delivered. During the speech, I noticed Roosh occasionally struggle with his words, and he displayed the signs of someone who's been through speech therapy for a stammer or similar. He'd commented, in a thinly veiled, acerbic tone, that I loved being on camera because of how easy I found it to talk, and that I must have a crush on the producer. And now I knew why. His pursuit of a formulaic way to 'game' women also made sense, too.

Finally, there was a Q and A, and someone asked a question about how capitalism was relying on the destruction of family and reduced birth-rate, and so the rise in 'non-traditional', 'blue-pill' families was part of a plan to make money. I raised my hand, and corrected him, as any Marxist worth his salt will know, capitalism fundamentally relies on population growth. I was immediately shut down, and a little while later, he quipped that women were clearly illogical, based on the point I'd raised, which sent the room roaring with laughter. I could only raise an eyebrow. Surely they'd want to debunk the assertion that Red Pillers hate women by not dismissing me on the basis of my gender?

Outside, the BBC asked what I'd thought about that, and I spoke honestly. Mid way through, Roosh appeared, and blasted me for 'selling him out'. 'Never trust a woman', he muttered, retreating to the auditorium. Afterwards, as I gathered my things to leave he refused to look at me and I reflected on the day on the way back home.

The event was sold out, which is alarming. Extremism makes its impression on vulnerable, impressionable minds. I worry that it might be turning potential moderate young men, somewhat understandably fed up with the histrionics of some feminists into women-hating douchebags. As for me, I'm trying to work out where I fall, but I'd still call myself, at the core, a feminist. At least for now.