Over the weekend, a movement to #KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada gained enough momentum to be reported in the mainstream press. If you're not familiar with Julien Blanc, he's a so-called "dating coach" whose Canadian business partner Owen Cook (who calls himself Tyler Durden, since Fight Club is really cool) is well known for his role as the pick-up artist (PUA) villain in Neil Strauss's bestselling PUA bible, The Game.
Cook and Blanc are part of a PUA posse called Real Social Dynamics. The RSD gang flies all around the world to teach men about getting women into bed. According to their website, they are holding a PUA bootcamp (where men " go out into nightclubs, bars, cafes... and meet girls" with an instructor who monitors them) in Toronto in January.
Blanc also sells a package of instructional videos called Pimp. He claims that once a man has learned all there is to learn from Pimp, he will have a "PhD in female attraction" and will "develop panty-dropping masculinity." On some level, it sounds like the kind of love potion you would buy out of the back of a 1960s comic book.
While the idea of PUAs in general is enough to make most rational people feel uncomfortable, Julien Blanc ratchets up the awfulness of gaming and manipulating women to such a degree that his behaviour veers into the lane of abuse and harassment. In a video that's received well over a million views, Blanc is shown telling a room of men:
[In Tokyo]... if you're a white male, you can do what you want. [My friend told me] just grab her... So I pull her in, and she just laughs and giggles. And all you have to say, to take the pressure off, is just yell "Pikachu!" or "Pokemon!" or "Tamagotchi!" or something. So I'm romping through the streets, just grabbing girls, and my open [PUA-speak for pick-up line] is just [grabbing a girl's] head [and putting it] on [my] dick. Head on dick. Yelling Pikachu with a Pikachu shirt.
It's the happiest I've ever been. What's fucked, too, is that every foreigner (who's white at least) does this. You'll be roaming through the streets, and there's Japanese people everywhere, and you'll spot that one foreigner. And your eyes will lock. And you know that he knows, and he knows that you know, and it's like this guilty look—like you both fucked a hooker or something. And you just wait for him to pass, and then phew, you're back at it. It's awesome.
I'm willing to wager that the guilt he's talking about experiencing is a fairly normal reaction one has after rampantly sexually harassing women in a foreign country. It's also striking that Blanc is so wrapped up in his insane philosophy and inflated ego that he assumes all other white men in Tokyo are also grabbing women by the head and rubbing their faces into their presumably pre-ripped and unwashed jeans. Some PUA tactics can be creepy or strange, but this sort of thing is essentially full-on abuse.
The video of Blanc concludes with actual footage of him doing exactly what he brags about in the hotel conference room—just in case you couldn't actually believe that someone would be capable of such awful behavior. Numerous Japanese women, with their faces blurred, are pictured being grabbed forcefully by Blanc as he laughs it off.
On top of all that, a tweet scraped from Blanc's now-deleted Twitter account shows a chart detailing the symptoms of a physically abusive relationship. In his tweet, he refers to it as a "checklist" for how to make a woman stay with you.
So that explains why some activists want to keep this dude out of Canada. Unsurprisingly, there's been a backlash to the effort to ban the PUA; there's a Facebook page called " RSD Julien Official Fanboy Page" that boasts a whopping 24 likes and posts that say things like, "Japanese girls were loving it, otherwise he would have stopped" and, "Stopping sexual assault is definitely supported, but stopping people from developing as a person is an even bigger crime."
Underneath the bad grammar is the argument that groups like RSD help depressed and shy men meet women. And to some extent I'm sure some PUA groups can and do provide that kind of support. In an article VICE Canada ran earlier this year, Sarah Ratchford spoke with a PUA who wanted to clear the air about his craft:
Let's say a man turns up without any experience [with women]. So he doesn't have any sisters, he grew up in a single-parent home, his cousins [are male and he has] all brothers. He doesn't have a lot of examples of how to interact with women. And the only times he interacts with women are in public spheres, like school or college, and women exist more on the periphery. So the discussion becomes, "Well, how do we interact with them?" Some people get very lucky and they learn how to interact, but some people never do. And they get to the point where it's like, "This whole thing of a man meeting a woman, it's not working for me, so what's going on?"
But obviously the tone and behavior of Blanc's teachings are a different beast than the type of sincere assistance for clueless men that the PUA above is describing. The Change.org petition to keep Julien away from Canadian soil, which describes Blanc as being "a clear danger to our women and a destructive influence [on] our youth" and is addressed to Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, now has over 2,700 signatures. Blanc has already caught the attention of Australia's police force, who notified the world via Twitter when Blanc left the country after having his visa revoked following a string of protests at his seminars. And a recent report questions whether or not Blanc can be banned from Japan as well.
Julien Blanc and his partner Owen Cook did not respond to multiple requests for comment from VICE.
Follow Patrick McGuire on Twitter.