In 2014, self-described “dating coach” Julien Blanc drew the attention of feminists (myself included) for a series of videos wherein Blanc engaged in street harassment of Japanese women, boasted of groping them while yelling nonsensical Japanese words like “Tamagochi” and “Pikachu”, and advised workshop attendees to use physical and verbal coercion, including choking, in order to “assert dominance”. A public outcry against Blanc ensued – coordinated in the hashtag #TakeDownJulienBlanc – noting that Blanc’s behavior is illegal in many of the countries that he visits, and these activities culminated in Blanc being formally banned from travel to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, with additional efforts focused on his travel to other countries such as Canada, Japan and Germany. Eventually, Blanc was invited onto CNN to be interviewed by Chris Cuomo, and in that segment, Blanc offered a qualified pseudo-apology for his videos and workshops.
In one of my first posts about the Julien Blanc outcry, I urged us to focus not solely on stopping Julien Blanc, but rather to see Blanc’s videos as symptomatic of the broader misogyny of the pick-up artist community. As shocking as Blanc’s videos and endorsed techniques are to the wider world, they are not unusual within the subculture of pick-up artistry. This is a community where the deep-seated fear of being labeled as a “beta” perpetuates a culture of misogylinity — the defining of masculinity through ownership of female sexuality. This is a community where #MasculinitySoFragile has been distilled into its most concentrated form, where heterosexism runs rampant, and where any notions of feminism and female agency are met with open hostility. In that context, the racialized violence of Julien Blanc’s teachings is not exceptional; rather, it is par for the course.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that another self-described pick-up artist has stepped into the vacuum left open when Julien Blanc was taken down. It should also come as no surprise that the same racism and misogyny endemic of Blanc’s videos has reappeared.
David Campbell is an American self-described pick-up artist who goes by the professional name David Bond (I guess because he stylizes himself as a real-life James Bond?).
Bond recently launched the website JapanByDavidBond.com (linked via DoNotLink.com), which sells access to a series of his pick-up artist coaching videos for a one-time fee of $67 to hapless young men. The videos contain candid street footage that serve the dual purpose of communicating travel tips for other young pick-up artists seeking to “score” with Asian women while showing the world how “successful” Bond is with the ladies. We know Bond is at least partially motivated by a desperate insecurity over his masculinity: in one video Bond scrolls through pictures of him with other women while frenziedly repeating “So cool! So cool! So cool!” The scene is so socially awkward, it is cringe-inducing.
His pathos notwithstanding, we must not understate the offensives of Bond’s video series. Bond does not just show himself harmlessly flirting with girls in his candid self-shot street videos; instead he documents a spree of street harassment tinged with racism and misogyny. Like Julien Blanc, Bond punctuates his videotaped interactions with nonsensical Chinese and Japanese words, as if to yell out or repeat meaningless phrases is a substitute for meaningful conversation. In one video, he spends several minutes parroting a young woman’s Cantonese and English phrases as if to mock her speech or her accent – similar to Julien Blanc’s cries of “Pikachu” and “Tamagochi” in his interactions with women on the streets of Japan. The assertion that one can mimic an Asian language by yelling nonsensical “Chinglish” phrases is patently offensive. In other videos, Bond appears to grab women by the arms when they pull away in order to coerce them to stay.
An additional point of contention is whether or not Bond’s videos crosses the boundaries of legality. While the women in Bond’s videos clearly understand that they are being videotaped – some speak directly into the camera and most of the videos appear to be shot with a selfie stick or a head-mounted GoPro – it is not obvious that the women are aware that their images will be published to the internet or sold for profit by Bond. Japan has notoriously strict privacy laws when it comes to public photography, and it remains uncertain if Bond has violated those laws with the videos he has shot in Japan.
But the essential problem with Bond’s website is his reinforcement of anti-Asian stereotyping of Asian men and women. Beyond the usual misogynist bullshit of the pick-up artist community where women are ranked based on “fuckability” and men are categorized into “alphas” and “betas” based on their possession of high-ranking women, Bond’s videos Orientalize Asia as a foreign and exotic land and depict its women as sexually available objects through which one can easily buoy one’s masculine self-esteem – a framework that essentializes Asian women as primarily subservient to White heterosexual masculinity. Bond openly encourages his clients to exercise deceit in order to trick women into talking to them, which is as duplicitous as it is pathetic. In a NextShark interview, Bond admits that he has “yellow fever” in the same quote where he describes Asian women as “pale and weird”.
(I suppose he means this quote by Drake — “You know I want it all and then some / Shout out to Asian girls, let the lights dim sum” — which is as wack as it is racist and sexist.)
Newsflash, David Bond: Asian women are not here to fuck you into feeling better about yourself.
Finally, Bond rationalizes in one video that the reason his system of pick-up artistry works is because Asian men are so non-assertive that non-Asian men are basically “competing against no one”, which is such a disgusting erasure of Asian men that I had a viscerally negative reaction to this statement. Bond not only treats Asian men with a castrating stereotype of the hapless buffoon, but he further renders them entirely invisible. Understandably, many men throughout Asia reacted to this particular facet of his videos with scorn, including the guy (with the awesome Australian accent, by the way) in the video posted below.
In fact, Bond’s videos are so deeply offensive that for the last month, he has been making headlines in Asian media with Japanese and Chinese users taking social media by storm to decry him. While much of that outcry has focused on Bond’s racism and misogyny, some has taken a distinctly anti-feminist turn. Some netizens have taken to slut-shaming the women in Bond’s videos; frustrating, since such a tactic distracts from Bond’s racist and misogynist encouragement of street harassment by shifting blame on the women who very well might be victims of Bond’s duplicity. Moreover, Asian and Asian American men within the pick-up artist community are also predictably upset by the way David Bond’s videos treat Asian men, but some are speaking out in ways that reinforces misogyny and misogylinity when they might instead take the opportunity to challenge the whole troubling language of “possession” of women by men that underlies the pick-up artist community.
We need not replicate existing systems of oppression in order to criticize David Bond; the racism and sexism of Bond’s videos speak for themselves. Bond’s (mis)treatment of Asia is not new; in fact, it is quite old. For centuries, the West has presented a nightmarishly flattened portrait of Asia, populated by hypersexualized exotic women and castrated men that exists primarily for conquest by entitled White masculinity. Bond’s videos – and its implications for Asian and Asian American men and women – cannot be divorced from this larger Orientalist historical context.
To my knowledge, there has not been the same kind of outcry against David Bond as there was against Julien Blanc. There has not yet been, to my knowledge, a #TakeDownDavidBond hashtag. Nonetheless, those who were angered by Julien Blanc in 2014 should find similar cause for concern with David Bond and other prominent members of the pick-up artist community who sell their self-help products through the marriage of the community’s standardized misogyny with anti-Asian racism.
For his part, the latest reports are that Bond – who quit his IT job to become a professional street harasser – has run out of money and is back to fixing computers state-side.
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Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!