We’re all aware of the sad, lonely, angry corner of the internet known as the “Seduction Community“, where self-described pick-up artists coach one another on how to “score” with women. We’ve all read the think-pieces linking pick-up artistry and other facets of the so-called “Manosphere” to the radicalization of young white men. We’ve all speculated about how online meninist spaces draw from antiquated and pseudoscientific notions of bioessentialism to perpetuate racism, misogyny, and general anti-social antipathy.
And still: most of us harbour a twisted fascination with knowing just how absurd and ridiculous pick-up artistry and other anti-feminist subcultures are. We all wonder: how seriously can people who label themselves “pick-up artists” — and who do so with no hint of irony — really take themselves? After all, pick-up artistry is a self-styled self-help community that insists they exist to help romantically-struggling men. So, what does pick-up artistry self-help really sound like?
Today, comedian Kristina Wong took one for the team, and compiled a group of powerful and funny Asian American women to find out just how deep this rabbit hole really goes.
“Grab [her] and yell ‘Pikachu’ and put her head on your dick.”
These are—verbatim—some of the lessons Julien Blanc might have taught in Los Angeles, before the #TakeDownJulienBlanc hashtag on Twitter.
Blanc, a self-described dating coach for Real Social Dynamics (RSD), travels the globe promising to unlock the secrets of the “dating game.” On Thursday, Real Social Dynamics planned to host a workshop in Los Angeles, part of a series that Blanc ran in Australia before the Twitter outcry led to the revoke of his Australian visa.
Socially awkward men spend between $500 and $3000 to attend Blanc’s workshops, which promise romantic and sexual success. What Blanc really teaches attendees is a system of latent misogyny—called “pick-up artistry,” or PUA—which labels women as “targets” and ranks our worth based on appearance and sexual willingness.
Pick-up artists like Blanc consider female non-consent a minor inconvenience in the pursuit of sex.
After Australia responded to widespread digital and offline outrage by condemning Blanc’s misogyny and objectification of women, activists then turned their attention to Canada. Thousands of tweets were tagged with the #KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada. Two women — journalist Kate Wheeler and actress Maria del Mar — independently created twopetitions on Change.org asking Canadian immigration officials to deny Blanc an entry visa; as of the time of this writing, over 5,000 people had signed each petition.
Now, it seems like those efforts may have paid off: although Real Social Dynamics had until recently included a number of Canadian cities — including Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto — on their worldwide free workshop tour which may have included appearances by Blanc, those Canadian cities have now disappeared from the listing of cities that RSD’s free workshops are being offered in.
On Friday evening in the residential neighbourhood of Isla Vista in Santa Barbara, California, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger stabbed his three young Asian American housemates – George Chen, 19 , Weihan “David” Wang, 20, and Chen Yuan “James” Hong, 20 – to death while they slept. Rodger then drove his luxury BMW coupe to the Alpha Phi sorority where he opened fire with two legally purchased handguns on three female passersby; two – Katherine Cooper, 22 and Veronica Weiss, 19 – were killed, while a third is recovering in hospital. Rodger proceeded to the nearby I.V. Deli Mart and fired randomly into the store, killing Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20. He then drove through the streets of Isla Vista, shooting randomly at pedestrians and striking two cyclists with his car; by the end of the night, he had wounded 13. A brief firefight ensued between him and sheriff deputies, which ended when Rodger crashed his car into another vehicle. Rodger was found dead in the drivers’ seat of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
I have over the last four days stayed silent on the UCSB shooting as I tried to parse my own thoughts on Friday’s violent attack. I watched some of the YouTube videos and read Rodger’s manifesto.
In the end, I couldn’t shake the same chilling reaction I felt when I first read about Friday night’s violence: I had seen Elliot Rodger’s brand of radical hatred before. I had seen it within the comments section of my own site for a decade. I had seen it from members of my own community.