The internet helps create Julien Blancs – but it can also take them down

The days of normalising rape and misogyny are numbered, thanks to the power of online campaigning.

The days of normalising rape and misogyny are numbered, thanks to the power of online campaigning

‘Pick up artist’ and professional creep Julien Blanc is not winning many hearts at the moment. Last week, his Australian visa was cancelled after mass online protest at some of the tactics he teaches to help men to ‘pull.’

The company he works for, Real Social Dynamics, is now headed for Canada, where a #KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada Twitter campaign is picking up speed.

Online activist Jennifer Li’s petition on to remove Blanc and RSD’s web content has reached almost 50,000 signatures. Blanc is scheduled to appear in the UK next February and the Home Office are already under pressure to deny him a visa.

Again, online activism against him has been vehement, and a petition to stop his UK ‘tour’ has gained over 60,000 signatures since its launch on Sunday.

As evidenced by Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison’s decision to revoke Blanc’s visa, politicians are listening to these campaigns, and with good reason.

Blanc’s personal website ‘PIMP’ offers previews of expensive advice on ‘how to destroy her Bitch Shield’, and ‘how to overcome every single objection she might have when you’re pulling her to sooth [sic] her mind’.

One of the reverent testimonies on the page says that ‘Julien gives off a very playful ”I’m just kidding” vibe, then easily get’s [sic] away with calling girls ”dog”.’

These timeless techniques have earned Blanc a huge following, with men paying as much as $3,000 dollars to attend his seminars.

Blanc’s recent trip to Japan saw him add racism to his catalogue of charms when he told a group of sniggering men:

“If you’re a white male, you can do what you want [in Japan]. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick.”

Blanc and his fans believe their special brand of casually violent misogyny to be beyond reproach,  because they employ the fail-safe technique of branding anybody who objects to it a humourless feminazi.

There is a counter campaign on signed by around 2,000 of Blanc’s fans, protesting his innocence and pleading that ”people have a right to be offended, but that does not give them a right to ruin someone’s life!”

But this is not about offence. Offence is an emotional response, something personal and subjective. What Blanc’s detractors are concerned with is actual incitement to rape. Below is a sample tweet from his (now private) account:

RSD Julienj

In the case of such gross misogyny, the feminazi label wore thin a long time ago. I would rather be a killjoy than a bigot. I would rather be called humourless than be called a rapist.

Blanc’s spectacular fall from grace will probably strengthen the support of his cronies, but their pathetic protests against equality have ceased to matter because Blanc is being taken down.

His platform is being pulled from beneath his feet and his movement is being restricted. His supporters can no longer blame his protests on a group of man-hating throwbacks; Blanc’s message is now reviled at government level.

In the UK, attention has been focused on Dapper Laughs, an internet comedian who has been repelling all thinking women and men with his lovingly compiled videos of himself  ‘on the pull’. He has gained 1.7m Facebook likes, and 365,000 Twitter followers.

Dapper (real name Daniel O’Reilly), struts around London telling sexist jokes in a high speed faux-cockney whine, asking women in the street if they are ‘proper moist’ and tweeting things like: ‘It’s only sexual harassment if she’s more attractive than you.’

This week he was filmed at a gig in London telling a woman in the audience that she was ‘gagging for a rape’.

Incredibly, ITV2 offered him his own show, which was pulled yesterday after 50,000 people petitioned against bringing his normalisation of rape and misogyny into the mainstream.

I suppose the argument could be made about Dapper Laughs that, unfunny though he is, he is at least supposed to be comedy, whereas Blanc is in deadly earnest. The thing is though, Dapper’s fans aren’t laughing.

When a female writer for the site usvsth3m criticised him, she was met with a barrage of abuse from fans: ‘why don’t you go back to your home on whore island’/’shut up you fucking slag’.

This was all because the writer, Abi Wilks, had pointed out that Dapper Laughs’ album in aid of the homeless charity Shelter was rather undermining itself by including a skit where he tells a homeless person that they ”stink of shit”.

Why are these fans so violently defensive? I suspect it’s because Dapper Laughs and Julien Blanc represent the last bastions of a culture that condones publicly using misogyny when you can’t get women to do what you want. Threatening the symbols of this culture makes the sad following feel even more powerless.

The internet has created a unique space for this small but vehement anti-feminism movement to flourish. According to the think tank Demos, between 26 December 2013 and 9 February 2014 there were approximately 100,000 instances of the word ‘rape’ being used in English from UK-based Twitter accounts, of which 12 per cent ‘appeared to be threatening’.

The study into internet misogyny ‘consistently found that women are subjected to more bullying, abuse, hateful language and threats than men when they are online’.

With the anonymity that a screen grants them, these men can project the most hate-filled recesses of themselves into an appreciative community, hence the hero-worship of figures like Dapper Laughs and Julien Blanc.

The flip side of this, and the part that gives me hope, is that when these internet nasties are thrust into the mainstream, they wither and die. Bring them into broad daylight, shame those who promote their desperate ideologies and they will start to go away.

Shelter rejected all revenue from Dapper Laughs’ album. His TV show has been cancelled, as has his gig at Cardiff University’s student union. Julien Blanc is in international disgrace.

One thing that these two cases have shown is that, if the internet can make these retro sexists a viral phenomenon, it is also the internet that can shut them down.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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