The Internet is a remarkable means of expressing terrible ideas and feelings towards women, particularly through social networking and blog sites like Reddit and 4chan. Both have become hotbeds of this male subset where belittling women and expressing anger and thoughts of violence against them are discussed and encouraged—through various geek fandom threads to so-called “men’s rights activists” (MRA) threads. Such misogynist sentiment was the motivation to post nude pictures of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. These women’s phones were hacked in an event titled “The Fappening,” a frivolous title incongruous to the misery inflicted. This invasion of privacy exposes a fundamental need for men to have access to women at any cost possible—and to thwart women’s success and talent by tearing down their bodies.
The most horrifying example of this is Elliot Rodger. Last May, he uploaded his terrifying frustrations towards women on YouTube a day before fatally shooting seven people and injuring 13 more in Isla Vista. The reason, in Rodger’s own words: “All I ever wanted was to love women, and in turn to be loved by them back. Their behavior towards me has only earned my hatred, and rightfully so! I am the true victim in all of this. I am the good guy….I didn’t start this war…but I will finish it by striking back. I will punish everyone.” The jump from an online forum to a real-world massacre might seem like a one-off tragedy, but that is far from the truth. Obviously, not every young man who goes on 4chan or Reddit is likely to massacre his peers, but the connection between online forums and real violence should not be ignored.
One such man using the internet to promote his brand of misogyny is Julien Blanc, the controversial dating coach for Real Social Dynamics. Blanc was traveling on his #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld tour when damning videos of him demonstrating his wooing methods spread on YouTube. Said methods include sneaking up on women, putting them in a chokehold and pushing their heads towards his crotch, as if she was an adjustable doll. He explained his rationale for these tactics as thus: “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick.” Even self-described male-feminist Marko Polo defended Blanc’s videos saying, “If you watch the infield video…she was already attracted by him and didn’t make any of resistance… how many men do you feminists think are dreaming of being able to put a girls head onto their penis?”
Apologists like Polo dismiss Blanc as one horrific misogynist exception to a rule of “good men,” but in reality he reflects the increasing rate of public acts of violence against women recently. Attendees of Blanc’s seminars pay up to $2000 to $2500 to learn all the ways to force a woman to perform sexual acts under the premise of “teasing them.” The fact that men are willing to pay thousands of dollars to learn these tactics from is a big jump from unpaid attention to a blog or forum comment.
Let that sink in: Men are willing to pay thousands of dollars to learn how to manipulate women.
It’s dangerous for men to think that they are entitled to a woman’s attention and must do anything to get it, especially per Blanc’s methods. It creates a false standard all men must reach and if they don’t get it they fail as human beings. Blanc makes this apparent in his work and himself cites putting pressure on women to get physical right away as the first step in interacting with them. Failure to do so means a failure to perform as a man according to his dogma. Thus men who feel constantly rejected by women easily begin to shun them or outright rally against them as being “bitches” that deserve to be punished. And just as Blanc uses the Internet to demonstrate his methods, rejected men turn to the Internet to commiserate in their pain of female rejection.
There is a small silver lining to this terrifying storm, which is that change does happen when people react. The videos of Blanc inspired enough women to speak out against him that the Australian and Brazilian legs of the tour have been canceled and he has been banned in the United Kingdom and Singapore. And he was taken down through the same force that enabled them in the first place—the Internet. Through the power of social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even Reddit, activists and normal people alike can expose nefarious people like Blanc and prevent them from doing more damage. The more the videos and criticisms are spread, the more public calls for change there are. There is hope that increased communication on the Internet can expose and change troubling things, but until society teaches all men to respect women as their own autonomous beings there will continue to be Blancs all around the world.
As loathsome as the hashtag #notallmen is, not all men buy into the toxic notion of needing to have female attention. But Julien Blanc and others prove using terror tactics for women make all men predators by proxy. The sooner men are taught they aren’t entitled to anyone’s attention, the better off everyone will be as a whole. And if a wave of people can take Blanc to task for his worldview and antics, maybe that will make everyone question the notion of male dominance.