The troubling concept of “pick-up artists” has been gathering attention in the US over the last few years, but this month, a tour of Australia by the controversial Julien Blanc has been cancelled following the cancellation of his visa. Blanc advertises himself as a “date coach” and his tour was described as a series of seminars teaching men how to “pick up” women. A growing number of critics have pointed out that most of his techniques seem to revolve around dangerously abusive behaviour towards women, including physical force and emotional abuse.
Victorian police confirmed that Blanc and his assistant, who had been due to stay in Australia until December, left quickly after Blanc’s visa was cancelled on the 6th November. His tour had started in Sydney before moving to Melbourne, which was were the protests gathered sufficient momentum to prompt a response by authorities.
The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, said that concerns had been raised over Blanc’s behaviour so the Department had launched an investigation into his activities. He went on to say that:
“This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women, and that’s just something, those are values abhorred in this country.”
A number of venues that had agreed to host his seminars cancelled them after protestors highlighted a series of Twitter feeds, videos and pictures by the speaker that consistently promoted violence against women, and the calculated use of abuse to attract them.
A Twitter campaign led by Jennifer Li helped spread word of Blanc’s talks and work under the #takedownjulienblanc hashtag, while Facebook pages and online petitions were launched to encourage the immigration minister to deport him. Protestors followed Blanc wherever they could while he was in Melbourne, often with placards bearing slogans such as “destroy rape culture”.
An attempt to instead hold a seminar on a boat on the Yarra river was soon called off too, with Melbourne River Cruises cancelling the event as soon as they were made aware of the nature of the event.
The tour comes at a time when Victoria is confronting the impact of domestic violence, with violent men being responsible in the last year for the deaths of 29 women and 8 children. Ken Lay, the police commissioner for Victoria and a key champion of the fight against domestic abuse released a statement condemning Julien Blanc and his work.
“To me most of it appears to be deeply disturbing and offensive. Labelling women as objects and actively promoting the abuse of women degrades the dignity of our whole community. We want to assure everyone that we have been paying close attention to this issue and appreciate that so many community members have expressed concern.”
Some commentators have expressed concern that the response has played into Blanc’s hands, raising awareness and undeserved attention, but Lay expressed confidence that the outcry proved that Victoria as a community was moving in the right direction.
We spoke to Mike from justsaygday.com, a popular Australian relationship website about the dangers of un-regulated pick up artists like Julien Blanc
“The biggest problem with these self styled ‘experts’ is there is no control over the content in their seminars. We have seen a big rise in this type of dating coach who play on impressionable young men, often with limited social skills, filling their heads with unrealistic and often dangerous ideas of how to treat women. By playing to the crowd, pretending to be some kind of woman magnet, these guys can take huge sums of money off impressionable young men in exchange for very questionable dating advice.”
Requests for comment from Blanc and his company, Real Social Dynamics, have so far not been answered, but according to his tour schedule, he is next due to appear in Japan.