LONDON » This week, Julien Blanc became possibly the first man ever denied a visa on grounds of sexism.
Blanc, a 25-year-old Californian, calls himself a "pickup artist." His website promises men that he will "make girls beg to sleep with you," and in expensive dating boot camps he shares tips about "gaming" and grabbing women, including casually pulling their heads toward the crotch.
The latter technique works particularly well in Japan, Blanc recently told an audience of men in Tokyo: "If you’re a white male, you can do what you want."
Amid an outcry over his abusive techniques, which some say verge on rape promotion, and an online petition with more than 150,000 signatures, the British government Wednesday barred Blanc from entering the country for a series of events scheduled here. Officials said people can be denied entry on the grounds that their presence is "not conducive to the public good," a rare power usually reserved for far-right activists and terrorism suspects.
The decision by the British Home Office came after the Australian government withdrew Blanc’s visa last week and forced him to leave the country. Photos he shared on social media showing him pretending to choke a series of women went viral on Twitter under the hashtag ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld. Since then, women and men in several countries where he had scheduled events in coming months, including Canada, have started campaigns to deny him entry.
For now he has canceled the remainder of his tour. Describing himself as the "most-hated man in the world," a nervous-looking Blanc apologized "for everything" Monday in a CNN interview. He said he had not been choking the women in the controversial photographs but merely had his hands around their throats. It was all "a horrible, horrible attempt at humor" that had been "taken out of context in a way," he said.
"I just want to apologize, you know, to anybody I’ve offended in any way," Blanc said.
But as women’s rights and anti-violence campaigners point out, videos and photos of Blanc explicitly encourage men to harass women and lower their self-confidence in order to have sex with them. One tip suggests that men make derogatory comments about other women’s bodies to flatter their prey. Others recommend pretending to grieve over the recent death of a girlfriend or threatening suicide.
As executive coach for Real Social Dynamics, a dating seminar company, Blanc promises to teach men how to "make girls beg to sleep with you after short-circuiting their emotional and logical mind" and develop "panty-dropping masculinity" to generate the "powerful emotions girls crave." Offers range from $197 for 23 instructional videos to a $2,000 dating boot camp.
Blanc promises to teach men how to overcome "last-minute resistance" when women say no to sex and get them to do "crazy sexual things."
"You’ll love this if you have any fetishes," he says.
The video clip that caused the most outrage was filmed in Tokyo and shows Blanc pulling women’s faces into his crotch on the street. In one scene, he harasses a visibly distressed Japanese cashier by kissing her neck and ear.
The woman who began the petition against Blanc’s entry to Britain identified herself as Caroline Charles, a pseudonym she said she was using because of the vitriol often directed toward anti-sexism campaigners on Twitter.
"Julien Blanc dresses up his seminars as dating advice, which at best is disingenuous — he focuses on tricking women into having sex, in order to make money," Charles said in a statement. "It is wrong on every level. It is promoting violence against women and girls, it takes advantage of men and it sends a message to survivors of sexual assault that they will not be listened to."
Lynne Featherstone, Britain’s crime prevention minister, said she was "delighted" that Blanc was not coming to Britain.
"If he was allowed to perform in the U.K., I have no doubt that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase," she said.
Others had a different view. On Twitter, Jojo Moyes, a novelist, said, "Might have been more effective for women to buy up all the seats and just laugh at him."