If I was able to help keep Julien Blanc out of the UK with a simple petition, imagine what else we can do

160,000 people joined together to prevent a racist sexual predator visiting the country, but now it's time we thought about tackling wider issues facing both genders

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The Independent Online

A sexist, laddish culture has pervaded much of Western society – particularly in the UK – and it's embodied in the rhetoric of individuals like Julien Blanc. His proposed approach to women strides hugely across the boundary between a right to freedom of expression and incitement to sexual violence.

Choke women. Coerce women.  Have a routine, a "game" in order to 'break down her barriers'.  All focused on the end goal of having sex with a woman who doesn't really want it.  How is this to be lauded?  How does this make Blanc, as I have seen suggested, a "legend"?

It doesn't.  It makes him and all his devotees part of rape culture.

A truly chilling example of Blanc's behaviour is his misappropriation of the "Duluth Wheel" (click here to see what it looks like) as a tool to "make her stay". This is a very clear representation of how his ideas go beyond trying to help get men "laid" and begins actively advocating deliberate physical and emotional violence against women.

The Duluth Wheel is used with both female survivors and couples who are involved in troubled relationships. The wheel is intended to help both men and women see lines of unacceptable behaviour in relationships. The fact that Blanc was portraying this as a "how to" guide for men to abuse women is incredibly disturbing.

One of the reasons I started the petition to keep Blanc out of the UK was to raise the profile of debate. Too much discussion around sexism and misogyny is personalised.  It's about Ched Evans/Chris Brown/Dapper Laughs.  It's not about the wider, systemic structure which needs dismantling if we're going to have anything akin to a balanced, fair society.

That same patriarchal construct which damages women and girls at every stage of development also damages men through those similarly narrow and rigid gender role expectations.  Men can't cry, can't be vulnerable, can't possibly like things such as fashion, art or cooking; they're defined by their relationship to football, and have to take a dominant position in pretty much all relationships. I could go on. 

One of the direct outcomes of this is staggeringly high suicide rates amongst men. Severe lack of institutional support for men's mental health coupled with repression of emotions can only lead to men who feel they have nowhere to turn and no capacity to express how they feel.  The laughably titled "Men's Rights Activist" movement seeks to lay the blame for this at the feet of feminists: the very people striving to remediate through better advocacy and support for men.

 

The often missed reality is that if we address the issues which affect women, many of the issues which adversely affect men are also positively impacted.

So, given the enormity of the challenge we face; what's to be done?  Start small and close to home.  Make yourself more aware of what sexism actually looks and feels like. Call it out when you see or hear it.  If you're a man, your voice is (by sexist decree) more credible than a woman's, so use it. 

Question people making rape jokes. Question why, if indeed this applies to you, you insist that a woman goes into a lift ahead of you. Don't catcall.  Don't let your friends catcall.  Believe women when they tell you their lived experiences.  Donate to EVAW. Talk to your daughters and sons about consent.

If I can rouse 160,000 people into taking a stand through a simple petition, think about what we could all achieve.  It's time sexism was over.

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