A petition to curb the Australian tour of a "pick-up artist", and other events held by his firm, has achieved its goal. Now his visa has been cancelled by the government, and he has been forced to leave the country.
Julien Blanc is a prominent figure in the increasingly less mysterious world of "pick-up artists". He shares his techniques to attract women with anyone willing to pay. "Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You," his website promises, like many other "experts" just like him - all of whom have mastered the art of "gaming" women. At the end of last month Blanc began a tour of Australia, while his colleagues at a firm called Real Social Dynamics continued hosting events in the US.
In an attempt to have several events cancelled, activist Jennifer Li created a Change.org petition calling three hotels not to host the company's seminars. Along with the petition, she posted a video of Blanc in action at previous events, boasting of his prowess with Japanese women. "In Tokyo, if you're a white male, you can do what you want," he is seen telling an audience. He talks about "romping through the streets," and "grabbing" women. Later the video shows him doing exactly that. Li's petition asks the hotels not to associate themselves with Blanc, and her campaign has yielded results.
As the number of signatures grew, the hotels began cancelling the events. "Following an objective review, we are in the process of advising Real Social Dynamics of our decision not to proceed as their event venue," the Como hotel in Melbourne posted on Monday. The Hilton in Austin, Texas, and the Courtyard in Seattle, Washington, followed suit the next day. The petition has now soared past 27,000 signatures, and a Twitter hashtag - #TakeDownJulienBlanc - has been used more than 40,000 times in the last few days.
Although the campaign achieved its original goal on Tuesday, the trend is accelerating, not slowing down. More than half of the tweets using the hashtag have come in the past 24 hours. Speaking to BBC Trending, Li says she now has a more ambitious aim. "We're taking it one step at a time, but the goal is to shut them down entirely." By posting new dates and locations to her Twitter feed, she is encouraging people to pressure other venues to cancel the firm's future events. "I don't want them to have the space where they can teach men to harass other women," she says. Some accounts even appear to be posting Blanc's phone number, asking others to call and text him, expressing their distaste.
Now the campaign has led to Blanc being forced to leave Australia. Immigration minister Scott Morrison said Blanc's visa was cancelled on Thursday night. "This guy wasn't putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women," he told Sky News Australia. On Friday police in Victoria tweeted that Blanc was no longer in the country. "We can confirm that Julien Blanc left Australia overnight. His assistant is also due to leave shortly."
We have contacted Blanc and Real Social Dynamics for comment, but not yet heard back.
Reporting by Sam Judah
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