Rhee headshot op-ed

(Rhiannon Joseph)

No means no. My mother first explained that phrase to me when I began showing interest in boys. It was even more important when they began showing interest back.

But pickup artist Julien Blanc doesn’t take no for an answer. That’s his first rule.
“There is no such thing as rejection because it’s never over,” Blanc says in one of his seminars on YouTube. “A girl blowing me off is just unfinished business.”

He’s a self-proclaimed dating coach who quickly earned the international title of a misogynistic conman. His so-called techniques? Convincing insecure men that using sadistic emotional and physical tactics are a great way to lure a woman into bed.

Blanc’s efforts have led women and men alike to sign petitions barring him from entering their respective countries.  Canadians, outraged by his seminars, flocked to  change.org and petitioned Immigration Canada to keep Blanc and the company for which he works, Real Social Dynamics (RSD), out of the country. One petition, started by Toronto actor Maria del Mar, stands at just under 61,000 signatures.

“He just caused the right amount of shock in me,” says del Mar. “It struck a chord in me as a woman, a mother, a sister, a neighbour. I’m just horrified  and I feel bad for the women that are going to be on the receiving end of these bad lessons.”

According to his website, pimpmygame.com, these lessons include “short-circuiting (women’s) emotional and logical minds into a million reasons why they should (sleep with you.)” He promises to help you learn how to break down a woman’s “bitch shield.” Blanc is also seen on YouTube pushing women’s heads down to his crotch and choking them in public.What makes things worse is that the men in his workshops are shown avidly listening and taking notes.

“What’s important to recognize is that the way many construct the idea of manhood is that men have to have ‘game,’ they have to be the alpha male, and a lot of men fall short of that,” says Jeff Perera, a Ryerson graduate and community engagement manager at the White Ribbon Campaign in Toronto.

The campaign’s objective calls upon men to work towards ending violence against women, “promoting gender equality, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.” This notion seems to be pretty much everything Blanc doesn’t stand for.

“The pursuit of this toxic idea of manhood revolves around how to use women to achieve social status,” says Perera. “These are the things that this pickup-artist jerk is adding to the systemic oppression and violence that women and girls face every day.”

Public outcry against Blanc’s lewd behaviour appears to have factored into RSD’s cancellation of Canadian “boot camp” dates, but it might not be sufficient enough to legally deny him or his affiliates entry into the country.

“There are provisions in the act to enable the minister to deny entry to someone on public policy grounds,” says Andy Semotiuk, a U.S and Canadian immigration lawyer. “In the case of Blanc, all we really have is second-hand media reports about his activities and no clear evidence of criminality.”

Some men have insecurities about dating and approaching women. Physical and emotional abuse is not the answer. Women wouldn’t need “bitch shields” if it weren’t for that mentality. The easiest way to break them down is through civility and respect.

Blanc has since apologized and attempted to pass off his misogyny as a “horrible attempt at humour.” But it’s too late to backtrack and ignore the violent teachings that he’s already spread and the actions he’s influenced.

Never forget that no means no. That’s my advice for Julien Blanc.

Rhiannon graduated from the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2015.