Self-proclaimed “date coach” Julien Blanc has cancelled his seminar tour in Australia and left the country after officials revoked his visa in light of online protests that highlighted his longtime promotion of abusive behavior against women.
In recent months, Blanc, a representative of global dating help company Real Social Dynamics, attained a following of men desperate for companionship through his “Ph.D. in female attraction” program. The dating strategy Blanc touts in online videos and in-person sessions centered on the use of force and disregard of consent as a means of gaining a woman’s attention.
The Australia leg of Blanc’s world tour — which would have lasted until December — included a seminar on a boat in Melbourne. On Friday, Australian officials confirmed Blanc and his assistant’s overnight departure during a news conference.
“The matter was raised with us and we had it investigated and this fellow looked at,” Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said, according to The Guardian. “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.”
Blanc took things further when he put his words into action through his social media campaign, #ChokingGirlsAllAroundTheWorld, a compilation of graphic photos that show him choking women. A viral YouTube video also follows Blanc as he wrings a Japanese woman’s neck and pushes it toward his pelvic area during a walk through the streets of Tokyo.
Experts say that the danger of what some may consider seemingly innocent act lies in a belief among some men that they are entitled to women’s bodies, as seen earlier this year when Elliot Rodger complained about women rejecting him in a video before killing six people, injuring 13, and taking his own life near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.
In recent weeks, conversations about street harassment have increased, especially after the release of a YouTube video that captured a woman being harassed within a 10-hour span as she walked through the streets of New York City. Producers of the video said their project highlighted how catcalling threatens a woman’s safety and peace of mind. That’s not hard to believe. Attempts by women to avoid or confront their cat callers have ended violently, as seen in Detroit and New York earlier this year.
The nightmare for many women around the world goes beyond the streets and into the home. In its 2013 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated violence against women as a global health epidemic. It found that one in three women worldwide has experienced intimate partner or sexual violence and nearly 40 percent of murders of women were committed by intimate partners.
The same holds true domestically. In the United States, women represent 85 percent of domestic abuse victims. While nearly 7.8 million women have been raped at some point in their lives, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that cases usually go unreported, due in part to the proximity of the assailant. The epidemic has touched women from all walks of life. Today, a college with 10,000 students could experience as many as 350 sexual assaults annually, according to the National Institute of Justice, an umbrella organization of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Domestic violence also takes an emotional and financial toll on victims. WHO found that victims stood twice as likely to face depression and three times as likely to develop alcohol use disorders. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that victims of intimate violence missed a total of 8 million work days annually. The U.S. health care system also doles $5.8 billion per year toward helping victims, nearly half of which goes to direct medical and mental health services.
It should be no surprise as to why members of anti-domestic violence groups have likened Blanc’s video — which has had more than 50,000 hits — to lessons on how to rape. D.C.-based columnist Jennifer Li has launched a Change.org petition telling hotels across the world to not let Blanc and Real Social Dynamics hosts seminars in their venues. In addition to Melbourne, venues in Brisbane, Austin, and Seattle, and online ticketing service Eventbrite have answered the call.
In a recent Independent article, Li issued a similar charge to venues in Japan ahead of Blanc’s tour in the country, scheduled to kick off in a matter of weeks.
“I really hope we can stop him before he starts assaulting the women there again,” Li said. “The only way to take someone like him down is by publicly shaming them. I know this is giving him more publicity, but I’m hoping it’s the type of publicity that will mean that shitbags like him aren’t able to find work.”