If there is one thing the internet has done, it has exposed us to the droves of twisted bigots there are in this world. Even more insidiously, it has offered these bigots a digital pulpit from which to preach their irrational hatred.
Among the seemingly boundless parade of chauvinists, however, one might stand out among the others as contender for Worst Dudebro Ever.
Enter Julien Blanc.
25-year-old Julien Blanc is a leading “pickup artist” (PUA). PUAs fancy themselves “dating coaches.” “Dating coach” is the euphemism they use to tell family members their profession. What they really are are heterosexual men who get paid to teach other heterosexual man how to seduce heterosexual women. Quite often, the seduction techniques they teach are explicitly misogynist. In Blanc’s case, this seduction is not just misogynist; it is violently misogynist, and racist.
For those who have seen Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 film Magnolia, Blanc is essentially a carbon copy of Frank Mackey, the misogynist narcissist played by Tom Cruise. Except Mackey is a fictional character. And Blanc isn’t.
Blanc embodies the dudebro more than perhaps any other human I have ever seen. He is the dudebro manifest. He is the dudebro who “grew up,” but will never quite grow up. John Saward’s opus “This American Bro: A Portrait of the Worst Guy Ever” might as well be retitled with the PUA’s namesake. Even the hulky, hyper-macho leads in Hollywood action movies are not as cartoonish as Julien Blanc. This misogynist con artist makes James Bond’s omnipresent male gaze and perennial exploitation of the exoticized female Other look positively “chivalrous.”
On social media, Blanc identifies as “an executive coach for Real Social Dynamics, the international leader in dating advice.” Real Social Dynamics (RSD) describes itself as “one of the largest dating coaching companies in the world.” RSD was founded in 2003, and claims to be the first incorporated company ever to run dating coaching bootcamps.
The company was founded by Owen Cook, who goes by “TD” (Tyler Durden), and Nick Kho, who goes by “Papa.” Blanc, born in France, met these PUAs while he was in school, before moving to Hollywood, where he was “mentored” by TD. He joined RSD in 2008, and has essentially become its face.
Today, although RSD’s office is based in West Hollywood, Blanc tours the world, giving workshops in countries ranging from the US to Finland to Brazil. These “bootcamps,” as RSD calls them, run a whopping $3,000 for five days or $2,000 for three. A skimpily clad cartoon woman in the checkout encourages you to drop an $800 deposit just to reserve a space.
What exactly does Blanc teach in these bootcamps? And what could possibly make them worth $600 or more per day? Why would (heterosexual) men fork out so much dough for some “dating” advice? (To Blanc, all men are heterosexual. His conception of gender is wholly binary and essentialist; he consistently employs cisheterosexist slurs to refer to “emasculated” men.)
The only accurate answer to that question, without mincing words, is that Blanc teaches men how to abuse women, and to disguise it as seduction.
Teaching Men Sexual Assault Techniques
On 1 November, Blanc posted the following video to his Facebook page, captioning it “Tokyo… 2 weeks away!!!”
The video features excerpts of one of Blanc’s bootcamps. In it, he speaks of women as if they were toys, telling men looking to beguile women in Japan to “just grab her” and “pull her in.” Racism is deeply tied to his misogynist dehumanization, as he says to “yell Pikachu or Pokémon” to “take the pressure off,” and as the audience laughs. Blanc boasts walking through streets, grabbing women by their head, and forcing their face into his crotch. He then proceeds to joke about pulling off his belt to whip women.
As if this extreme, unmitigated inhumanity and bigotry were not enough, at one moment, Blanc literally gloats “if you’re a white male you can do what you want.” This isn’t satire.
The video concludes with footage of Blanc forcing Japanese women’s faces into his crotch. The final shot shows one of his white followers sexually harassing a cashier in a Japanese store, while bystanders watch.
The excerpts featured, compiled and accompanied by Japanese translation, in protest of its repugnant contents, constitute an abbreviated summary of “White Male F*cks Asian Women In Tokyo (And The Beautiful Methods To It),” a vile video Blanc posted in September 2014.
The Tumblr blog F*ck No! Fetishization, a blog devoted to speaking out against the racist fetishization of people of color, posted the video late 1 November. It heavily circulated the blogging website so quickly that, as of the evening of 2 November, it had approximately 30,000 notes.
On 1 November, Twitter user @JennLi123 brought attention to the video. Early 2 November, Li tweeted #TakeDownJulienBlanc, a tag that proceeded to flood parts of Twitter. At its high point, #TakeDownJulienBlanc was being tweeted over 400 times per hour.
This video, as grotesque as it is, nonetheless, is by no means an isolated exception.
A History of Dehumanization of Women
If there is one piece of advice consistent throughout Blanc’s lessons, it is to dehumanize women and to treat them as mere sexual objects to be conquered.
In one of his earliest videos, from 2012, Blanc explains to men “How To Stop Being A ‘Permission Boy’ And Put On The Big Boy Pants.” In the tutorial, he calls “seeking permission” from women an example of “being weak.” Men shouldn’t ask women for sexual permission, he insists; they must be “commanding,” and take what they want. This is literally the behavior of rapists. Literally.
Blanc’s disdain for consent is a consistent, rampant theme. He calls men who ask for consent “pussies.” Instead of asking for permission before sexually engaging with a woman, Blanc insists that men must simply take what they want.
Women are objects to be owned and used, Blanc maintains. He encourages men to “Strut Like You Own Them.” He posts videos promising secrets on “How To Sleep With ANY Girl: Short-Circuiting Girls Like Austin Powers.” In order to do do, Blanc implores heterosexual men “To Uncover A Girl’s Emotional Blueprint And Manipulate Her Self-Esteem.” It is telling that he feels comfortable using the word “manipulate” to describe this exploitation. In the latter video, he explains the goal of his training is to “own her soul like the dog that she is.” This kind of language, referring to women as a non-human animal that a man owns, is a common trend in his videos.
According to the RSD executive coach, “it’s so effective going up to girls and calling them for example, dogs … slut, c*nt, whore, b*tch, tramp, hoe, cocksucker,” etc. Blanc encourages men to insult women “unapologetically,” like “you have no filter” (“I GOT NO FILTER, BRO” is practically the mating call of the bro, Saward notes in his aforementioned article). The PUA explains “her DNA does not respond to” niceness; “her DNA f*cking responds to” dehumanization, so you have to be mean; you have to be a misogynist.
Blanc’s sexism is particularly vitriolic toward women of different body types. In October 2014, Blanc tweeted a photo of a new t-shirt emblazoned with the words “diss fatties; bang hotties.”
In one of his many videos, he advises men to do exactly this: “Bang The Hotties By Dissing The Fatties.” At the center of Blanc’s misogyny is the complete objectification of women and a hyper-fetishization of their body. When women do not conform to his harsh, patriarchal, cisheterosexist standards of physical attractiveness, meted out on a decimal scale, he has no problem insulting them.
A video charmingly titled “The Last Dick Standing: How To Guarantee That Every Rejection Will Lead To Sex” shows the “dating coach” recounting an anecdote in which he “lecture[d] this girl on her age,” telling her she was “too old” to be at a nightclub. She was 30.
Videos like this, among others, also feature Blanc encouraging men to refuse to take “no” for an answer, perpetuating the same violent sense of male entitlement upon which rape culture is constructed.
Crossing the Line into Violent Misogyny
All forms of misogyny are ghastly and noxious, yet not all cross into the realm of violent misogyny. Blanc takes a step beyond this fine line, into a whole other world of f’ed up.
In the most appalling, heinous incident of all, Blanc tweeted a graph detailing physical and sexual forms of violence women experience, adapted from the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, writing “May as well be a checklist… #HowToMakeHerStay.”
As if his condoning of physical and sexual violence was not already overt enough, this is as blatant as it can possibly get. Blanc is not just a misogynist; he has officially crossed the line into violent misogynist.
Journalist James Bloodworth, who briefly was part of the PUA community, noticed this violent misogyny, and wrote of it in a January 2013 article. Bloodworth addresses the oft’ unspoken “dark side” of the PUA community, likening it to a cult. He speaks of PUAs’ “casual misogyny,” noting they regularly refer to women as “‘targets’, ‘HBs’ (hot babes), and ‘warpigs’ (physically unattractive women).” Most disturbing of all, nonetheless, he writes, is the way it teaches men “that when a woman says no it doesn’t really mean ‘no’ at all, but rather ‘not yet’.”
PUAs teach “techniques,” Bloodworth explains, that “have elements indistinguishable from date rape,” noting that a famous PUA known as “Roosh V” (Roosh Vörek) was even listed in the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Quarterly Intelligence Report for essentially encouraging rape, writing it off as a supposedly biological product of uncontrollable hormones, part of his “innate” “animal” nature. “Bastardised evolutionary biology crops up repeatedly in this strange world,” Bloodworth points out. The behavior of men and women is treated as though it “is entirely ‘hard-wired.'”
Bloodworth highlights a 2011 thread in the RSD forum, titled “Lie your way inside a womans vagina (People with morals DO NOT READ),” in which users tell men they should not be “afraid to physically force her to do anything or to tell her no or shut up,” to “ignore what she says and physically force her… to verbally and physically dominate a drunken 18 years old girl.”
Julien Blanc’s Followers
RSD has a whole community of similarly misogynist men who share advice on the most effective means of dehumanizing and exploiting women.
Users uphold Blanc in an almost messianic light. “Julien is just the messenger,” they write, lamenting any attacks on their savior. One frequent user claims that all of the very, very many comments on Blanc’s Facebook wall, criticizing his misogyny, racism, and cisheterosexism, are women “pretending to be outraged but secretly wanting a piece of the action.” In the paranoid PUA world, everything is explained in this conspiratorial manner. In a moment of unvarnished misogyny, the same user writes “this kind of thing shows why they [i.e., women] really don’t deserve any respect. Makes you realize why in most of the world for most of history they have been delegated to second class citizens. They just simply don’t deserve to be treated with respect.”
In response to the #TakeDownJulienBlanc Twitter trend, users in the RSD Nation forum complained that “Julien is being assaulted by faggots lol,” many rejocing that “Julien Finally Made It!” (because I suppose “there is no such thing as bad publicity”, as they say). The misogynist militants flocked to the RSD forum to defend and applaud their Charismatic Leader. Fans posted statements like “i hope julien releasesmore crazy misogynist videos of him insulting girls and then f*cking them,” making it clear that they are well aware of their misogyny, and proud of it. Users, with names like “vaginaraptor,” insist that Blanc simply “makes some silly American girls cry and makes some non pc jokes big deal he’s a normal guy”; to them, dehumanization and exploitation of women has become so normalized they see Blanc as an average man.
Another gruesome entry in the RSD forum, titled “Very Good Thread About The Nature Of Women,” says that every woman want “longs to be dominated and conquered by a man stronger than she is; a man so powerful that he can plant his flag over her first two desires and bring her under control.” This absurd notion, they claim, wielding their scientific expertise, is “rooted in the fact that Adam both named Eve and called her a woman.”
If the Christian creation narrative doesn’t constitute solid enough evidence for any skeptical readers, the misogynists demonstrate true scholarly rigor and cite “Amazon’s description of Fifty Shades of Grey” as proof.
In this community, feminism is the root of all problems in the world. “Most miserable are so many of these feminists,” they claim, “having to eventually acknowledge that they don’t feel complete without male attention, and never feel satisfied without male domination and definition.” These men are gender solipsists. In their preposterous worldview, women are not only supposed to “dominated” by men, they simply cease to exist, definitionally, without men. Feminists “fight so hard against the … desire for domination,” they claim, insisting that “women want to be spanked, tied up, pounded senseless sexually, and have rape fantasies.”
Once again, we see here how the PUA community rationalizes and justifies rape, one of the most horrific crimes of all, claiming it is “natural,” and that women “want it.”
Throughout this forum, women are consistently referred to as “b*tches,” “hoes,” “whores,” and more. Users regularly write nonsense like “Every hot chick is a dirty little whore deep down.” In this disturbed world, the dreaded “friend zone” is essentially hell on Earth—because women are not treated as human beings, just sexual objects.
One obviously amiable user asks fellow misogynists “How Do I get unbanned from dating sites?” He explains “I have trouble resisting the urge to tell fat ladies to hit the gym. They report me. I get banned.”
When some users try to shine even the smallest of glimpses of basic human dignity, such as when one user admitted he doesn’t want to make “fatties” “feel too bad,” Blanc’s cronies abruptly chime in “Are you f*cking kidding me? Feeling are like rules, they are there to shit all over them,” posting an image of Blanc holding the “diss fatties; bang hotties” t-shirt.
As is typically the case in the Internet, as if Blanc’s videos weren’t already bad enough, accompanying comments are even worse. Misogynist and homophobic slurs are everywhere. Anyone who criticizes the PUA are disparagingly called “Tumblr social justice warriors,” a term reactionaries often use to refer to feminist, anti-racist, and LGBTQ activists who they assume use the blogging platform. Men who speak out against Blanc’s misogyny and racism are referred to as “whiteknights,” not to mention more vehement attacks like “f*gs” and “homos.” Delusional commenters insist women “would slit their wrists to be in a relationship with” Blanc. Unsurprisingly, countless racist comments can be found as well, because, virtually always, concomitant with sexism is racism (it is for this reason feminists speak of the necessity of intersectional feminism).
Users can also host their own blogs at RDS Nation. These may very well reveal the most troubling aspect of RDS zealots, sociologically speaking. Virtually all speak of women as mere sexual objects to be conquered, not to be respected, yet alone treated as actual human beings. At this point, this isn’t surprising. What is of concern is the downright terrifying content many of them post.
One regular contributor wrote, in a frightening entry reflecting on a Halloween night fling, “Sorry beautiful women, but i’m going to f*cking destroy you.” His comments are eerily similar to those of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old student who killed six and injured 13 in a misogyny-induced massacre. The RDS author, like Rodger, blames women for “wronging” him, and seeks revenge on them all, collectively. He threatens “I’m gonna break your f*cking little hearts and put you in tears. You made me this way.”
Elliot Rodger and the PUA Community
While PUAs like Julien Blanc might not create misogynist murderers like Elliot Rodgers, their violent sexism and dehumanization of women turn men who might otherwise be “normal” into misogynist extremists, inspiring these kinds of hate crimes. This by not to say that they are also culpable in any infractions, but it would prove a grievous oversight to ignore their influence as an instigating factor.
Amanda Hess wrote of the “The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder.” Rodger had tried his hand in the PUA community, yet, when he did not face the results he was promised (believe it or not, in spite of what Blanc preaches, no, women do not like being treated like “dogs”—no human being does, of any gender), his frustration turned into rage. The killer allegedly belonged to PUAHate.com, a community that, as Hess writes, is not “interested in putting an end to the PUA community’s objectification of women; it simply complains that the tips and tricks don’t work.”
In reaction to Rodger’s shooting, the PUA community had a field day, recognizing the act of atrocious violence as an opportunity for marketing and all-around money-making and claiming it validated the supposed need for their services. Strategic Dating Coach commented on one of Rodger’s deranged videos writing “THIS is why we do what we do. TO PREVENT THIS SH*T!!! He should have gone to our website and got our personal dating coaching or purchased one of our products. IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP, CONTACT US! Don’t ‘suffer injustice.'” Talk about “profiting off the tragedy.”
Right before engaging in what must be called a misogynist hate crime—or even more accurately, a misogynist terrorist attack—Rodger angrily told his video camera, in the style of a super villain’s final monologue, “you will finally see that I am the superior one, the true alpha male.” This notion of the “alpha male” is consistently used to justify extreme forms of misogynist and racist abuse, including rape. Rodger referred to himself as a “supreme gentleman,” fancying himself the “perfect guy.” Blanc and his followers, similarly, wax poetic on the paragon of the Almighty Alpha Male.
A critical part of Blanc’s shtick is his exaggerated megalomania. At the end of 2013, he posted a video titled “Even God Begs For My Help,” boasting, with great braggadocio, about the list of women he had “conquered” sexually. This notoriously sexist position, and the failure to live up to its ridiculous, untenable standards, is ultimately what led misogynist mass murderer Elliot Rodger to seek “revenge” on the women who did absolutely nothing to him, and were, in his sadistic view, ergo “guilty” of refusing to recognize his alpha male status. To “all those girls I’ve desired so much,” the sexist terrorist stated, in his penultimate words, “you will finally see that I am the superior one, the true alpha male.”
The Structural Sexism of which Julien Blanc Is a Part
Perhaps one of the most worrisome questions is why these connections have scarcely been drawn, between PUAs like Julien Blanc and these misogynist hate crimes. Blanc has been releasing overtly sexist content for years, and has 10s of 1,000s of fans on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. One must wonder why he has not been exposed before.
There is almost zero press coverage of Blanc or of his company. The only coverage that exists practically speaks of him as a superhero. In June 2014, the Daily Mail published an article featuring Blanc, yet it makes no mention of his overt misogyny, not to mention his advocacy of sexual harassment. On the contrary, the article effectively lauds Blanc.
The Daily Mail piece refers to Blanc as the “master,” casually noting that he is “one of the most renowned ‘pick-up artists’ around” and articulating his “near-rock star status” among the men attending his bootcamps. Not only does author Tim Samuels speak highly Blanc and his workshop, Samuels actively participates in it, posting photos of him striving to seduce unsuspecting women.
Samuels admires Blanc’s “manly confidence” and “astonishing” work. The ever impartial journalist enthusiastically recounts his fieldwork and the “renewed sense of swagger” he feels when procuring a woman’s phone number. The article includes “Julien Blanc’s Top Five Pick-Up Tips,” effectively encouraging (and advertising for) the PUA.
Beneath the thin veneer of offering “dating” advice is Blanc’s true goal: sex. He is selling men advice on how to sexually exploit women, not “date” them. He makes this quite clear. In the short video excerpt the Daily Mail includes, Blanc openly encourages men to outline a formula to trick women into having sex with them.
Blanc’s employer makes no effort whatsoever to hide this. A late-October post details “How To Get Laid Online,” through a procedure referred to simply as “The Program.” Jeff Allen, a PUA coworker also at RSD, introduces himself saying “I’ve been teaching guys how to get laid since 2003.” So much for “dating coach.”
And yet RSD is still consistently referred to as though it is a legitimate, respectable enterprise. This is a company that, on its official Facebook page, shamelessly rates women, speaking of them as if they were mere numbers (e.g., “7’s,” “8’s,” “9’s”), not human beings.
Blanc’s Pimp program, affiliated with RSD, likens the sexual domination of women to a “game,” promising to teach paying customers (for between $200 and $500) how to be “lethal” at it. He advises men to order women “Get Down On Your Knees, Call Me Master, And BEG ME To Kiss You.” He strategizes to “develop panty-dropping masculinity” and to “destroy her ‘Bitch Shield.'”
In the ridiculously long (over 7,000-word) single-page website—a site that, uncoincidentally, looks remarkably like those of the countless Secret Magical Instant Weightloss Pill That Doctors Don’t Want You to See!™ scam products—Blanc promises to show men how to “Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You After SHORT-CIRCUITING Their Emotional And Logical Mind.”
That Blanc refers to himself as a “pimp,” and teaches men how to “become a true ‘pimp,'” is telling; he sees himself as the owner of the women he is teaching men to dehumanize and exploit. The service RSD provides is sexual domination; Blanc is the vehicle through which this domination is learned, the gregarious salesman through which it is sold.
RSD exemplifies how the economic system perpetuates misogyny. Political economists speak of the notion of “reification,” of how economics turns what is simply an idea (in this case, the supposed inferiority of women, and the idea that women’s bodies are objects to be consumed by heterosexual men) into something real. RSD profits off of misogyny, and it is therefore in its interest to continue to strengthen it, to turn horrid sexist ideas into palpable sociocultural reality. This inextricable interaction leads renowned feminist and critical race theorist bell hooks to speak of “imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy” as one intersectional system of oppression. Capitalism profits off of the exploitation of women and people of color—and particularly of women of color. RSD exemplifies this economic exploitation in action.
Some critics have called Julien Blanc “crazy,” “insane,” or “ill.” This is an insult to those with mental disorders and illnesses. Blanc is not crazy; he is a violent misogynist. He is the product of a patriarchal culture that says that it is okay to treat women as sub-humans, and of an economic system that rewards chauvinists like him for their despicable behavior.
Julien Blanc may certainly be seen as a contender for Worst Human Being Ever, yet he is symptomatic of a much larger problem, one that is not limited to mere isolated individuals, one that is structural: patriarchy. Global patriarchy. Until structural sexism—along with its corresponding forms of systemic oppression—is dealt with, dismantled, countless more Julien Blancs will step up and take his place, dehumanizing women, and profiting off it. And each will progressively be the. Worst. Douchebag. Ever.