Why Barring Blanc and Dapper Laughs Is Not Enough
OVER the last number of weeks, the issue of pick-up artists (PUA) and misogyny have come to the fore. First, ITV in the UK have cancelled the second series of Dapper Laughs. For those of you blissfully unaware, this was the creation of Londoner Daniel O’Reilly. After some modest internet success, his character – foul-mouthed geezer Dapper Laughs – got a series on ITV2’s graveyard shift. However, he’d raised hackles with his sexist and deeply unfunny shtick. When a video showing him telling a female audience member that she was “gagging for rape” surfaced, Dapper was finished. O’Reilly appeared on BBC’s Newsnight, was subtly eviscerated by Emily Maitlis and then announced he was retiring his character.
Swiss pick-up artist Julien Blanc has been banned from the UK and Australia and plans for him to speak (or grunt while pointing at his crotch) in Ireland are in doubt too. Blanc achieved notoriety for his promotion of the usual PUA tactics. He has also appeared in videos where he shoves Japanese women’s faces into his crotch. The women were passers-by and shop assistants on the streets of Tokyo, not willing participants. He also created the hashtag #ChokeAGirl.
We should doubtlessly be pleased at the downfall of these two individuals. O’Reilly is possibly less at fault. Watching his interview on Newsnight, it was striking that this is a person who has never really sat down and thought in any meaningful way about what he was saying. His father reacted rather odiously on Twitter to criticism; it doesn’t seem that a conversation on gender or common courtesy ever took place in the O’Reilly household.
Blanc is a different prospect. He is smarter. He is making a lot of money through his activities. Therein lies the real question regarding PUAs; is it enough for us to call for the banning of Blanc from our college campuses or convention centres? Would it be making some kind of martyr of him? Most crucially of all, why do some men actually flock to these snake-oil merchants, the dating equivalent of psychics and diet-pill saleswomen?
Dating is a minefield for either sex or any orientation. It’s not fun to be rejected or strung along. Some people are incredibly unlucky or make poor choices. Some people just find it hard to meet someone. Both men and women can fall into a permanently single trap (not that there is anything wrong with being single). The difference is that women tend to receive clearly insane advice from magazines about attracting men. Generally it entails acting aloof and disinterested. The PUAs are right about one thing; dating is a numbers game, so therefore men are encouraged to hit on as many women they can find.
Many women will be familiar with the feeling of unwanted attention; of trying to dance in a nightclub or talk to a friend while being hassled. Of course, PUA – and indeed our wider culture – teach that women are just playing it cool. For men who have problems with social cues or are highly insecure, persistent rejection may breed bitterness. Seeing someone like Blanc, who is clearly not a nice person, surrounded by women may lead the gullible and troubled to try out these methods for themselves.
A man called Arthur Chu wrote in The Daily Beast in the aftermath of the Elliot Rodger shootings about his experiences of the entitlement culture surrounding male heterosexuality. The title of the piece was ‘Your Princess is in Another Castle’. Gamers and 90s kids will know the words. It’s a twist on the little message our adorable little Italian plumber Mario gets in Super Mario Bros when he finishes smashing his way through worlds.
Chu makes the point that the media aimed at men, especially in teenage years, throw in the ‘girl’ as an afterthought. For a male protagonist to finish a film, TV series or a book without the girl on his arm (no matter how she felt about him at the start) would be unthinkable. Even the Transformers updates throw in a ‘girl’ to be rescued, even if they are ostensibly about giant alien robots. Even Sheldon Cooper gets a girl.
What’s the solution? More petitions against the likes of Blanc and O’Reilly? It goes a lot deeper than that. We need to realise that both men and women have agency in relationships and dating. Women are entitled to say no. A single man, or a man not sleeping with everything that moves, is not an aberration or a freak. We are all people. We all deserve respect.
Photos c/o badgeronline.co.uk, rosierespect.org.au