An American 'pickup artist' who was recently kicked out of Australia due to his lectures that advise men to assault women is receiving similar attention in Canada. The action was driven by a social media campaign, #TakeDownJulienBlanc, launched by Washington, D.C.-based activist Jenn Li.
Julien Blanc and the company he works for, Real Social Dynamics, give seminars that teach men how to pick up women using language like "how to destroy her Bitch Shield" and how to make a girl "feel like you like them for more than just sex." Not surprisingly, Blanc and RSD have been blasted for employing and promoting objectifying and misogynistic tactics.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander acknowledged the petition on Twitter Monday, calling Blanc’s seminars “completely counter to Canadian values and common decency.” He suggested to Global News the government is considering options to bar his entry into Canada.
Even more alarming is the physical violence Blanc also reportedly advocates. According to the Guardian, Blanc has posted many pictures online with the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld (his Twitter account has since been made private). A YouTube video demonstrating this behaviour in Japan, as well as pushing women's faces towards his penis, is another part of his seminar, reports Jezebel.
Now, with RSD events planned in Canada for the coming weeks, the hashtag #KeepJulienBlancOutOfCanada became a force over the weekend, and journalist Kate Wheeler of What She Said has started a petition on Change.org to keep him out of the country. (Update: Another petition, started by actress and acting coach Maria del Mar, is also on Change.org with a similar message.)
— Shaun Majumder (@shaunmajumder) November 9, 2014
#KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada Teaching violence towards women under the guise of being a pick-up artist: not welcome in Canada.
— Darcie Conway (@Darcie_Conway) November 10, 2014
— Leslie McGuire (@LeslieMcGuire1) November 10, 2014
According to the petition, "RSD creates, spreads, and endorses content that is 'excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, contains harassing content or hate speech, creates a risk to a person’s safety or health, or public safety or health.' It is appealing to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to not allow Blanc into the country.
In Australia, the revoking of Blanc's visa prompted a discussion on free speech, and the specific choking video was renounced by RSD itself.
"I think Julien's video was absolutely stupid. It was totally out of context and he posted it to get shock, not realizing the full outcome. I'm sorry about the video," wrote co-founder Tyler on the company's website.
According to its forums, members of the RSD community are almost universally in agreement that this kind of violent behaviour is not part of the "game."
The topic is particularly relevant in Canada right now, with the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi still front of mind, as well as the #BeenRapedNeverReported movement that has helped people speak out against sexual assault in huge numbers.