The basics of this story are known, too well known, in fact. Julien Blanc, a reptilian American bloke promises to teach men to pull, manipulate and (allegedly) ravage women at will. All for a price, of course. His company is doing very well, thank you. This specious “pick-up artist” runs miry boot camps where men – mostly losers – are taught these dirty tricks.
The coupling guru’s advice includes “use coercion and threats, emotional abuse ... to keep power and control”. He films himself grabbing Japanese women in Tokyo and pushing them to his groin. “If you are a white man, you can do what you want.” There is worse. His trained instructors have already started delivering sessions in a London hotel and he himself was reportedly expected to turn up in a few weeks. Australia has thrown him out, and he may become persona non grata in Canada.
Theresa May might prohibit him from entering because he is a threat to society. Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister responsible for women’s rights, wants to keep him out. An internet petition has gathered more than 140,000 signatures calling for this ban. I can’t be absolutely sure of this but I expect most of those who have signed up are females. Rape crisis centres and groups protecting women against violence have galvanised opposition to Blanc, a man, they say, who legitimises sexual predation and sends the message that females are things, objects without brains, will or agency.
We feminists had a busy week. Just before this entirely justifiable tumult, Ched Evans, the footballer convicted of rape in 2012, was allowed to train with his previous Sheffield United teammates. He has never expressed any remorse and still claims he is innocent. The girl involved was smashed and that, I agree, was not wise. But no woman “asks for it”, EVER. Of course he has done time and should be able to work again. But he can’t be allowed to reclaim his fame and status. Principled women objected and were mauled by internet dogs. Athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill asked the club to remove her name from a stand named after her. Hideous tweets followed. One said: “I hope he [Evans] rapes her.”
Public figures speak out against Ched Evans' Sheffield return
Public figures speak out against Ched Evans' Sheffield return
1/5 Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg said that Evans should not have been allowed to return to train with Sheffield United, but indicated that he believed the Welsh international should be allowed to continue his career, possibly with a foreign club
2/5 Jessica Ennis-Hill
Jessica Ennis-Hill has warned she will withdraw her name from the stands at Sheffield Unity if convicted rapist Ched Evans is re-signed
Harry Engels/Getty Images
3/5 Charlie Webster
Charlie Webster resigns as patron of Sheffield United after club allowed convicted rapist Ched Evans to return to training
4/5 Dave Berry
Sixties pop star Dave Berry has resigned as patron of the club since Evans returned to training
5/5 Lindsay Graham
Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham has also resigned as patron of the club since Evans returned to training
In spite of the real progress made by feminism over the decades, woman and girls are still abused, violated, tortured, killed, defamed, threatened, bullied and dehumanised by males in the UK. Some are familiar to them, others strangers. A few weeks ago I wrote an entire column sympathising with young men who feel lost, unwanted or severely distressed to the point of suicide. Today, however, I ask this question: why don’t more British men condemn male brutishness?
Millions of them could come out and shout “not in my name”, issue statements, hold rallies, petition politicians. But they don’t. Some recently donned silly T-shirts proclaiming “This is what a feminist looks like” and thought that was enough. It bloody well is not.
Don’t they mind? Don’t they care? Or is it that they just want an easy life and can’t be bothered? Worse still, millions probably think it doesn’t matter, that it’s just brainless, shrill women making a fuss about what is simply biological determinism: men are men and boys will be boys. For feminists, men are not the enemy, but male inertia and excuses are. The African-American writer bell hooks was right when she observed that hard masculinity “estranges men from themselves”. And that estrangement damages them and causes untold misery to others.
In her spirited book Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, journalist and activist Laurie Penny reflects on modern-day, hi-tech misogyny: “It is as if by talking about the hurt women experience, often because we are women, we are somehow preventing men from speaking about the painful pressures of masculinity. Interestingly, for many men, the only time they do feel able to talk about their own suffering is when they are trying to stop women talking about theirs.” Some of the crazies who blog and tweet sexist and racist obscenities must be deeply sad and alienated. But that does not give them the right to be irredeemably foul. Again, I wonder how decent men stay quiet and disengaged and don’t feel the urge to take on their overactive, web-obsessed brethren.
When Islamist terrorists do terrible things, law-abiding Muslims are put under severe pressure to condemn the villains. So let’s do the same to men. Demand that they reprove Evans and Blanc, famous sexual violators and internet beasts who come for women in public life. They could also denounce cultural sexism – Page 3 nudes, Jeremy Clarkson, sicko adverts and wolf whistles – but maybe that’s asking too much of the other sex.
Come on, guys: husbands, sons, friends, colleagues. We can create a clean world of real equality and respect, unpolluted by the bad breath of men like Blanc and his acolytes. But we need you to be with us women on this march. Man up, but in a good way.
Taylor Swift is leading a brave new generation — smart, driven and generous
This young lass with blond hair, full red lips and beautiful eyes appeared on the front page of Time magazine last week. Who’s she? I thought. And what has she done to get this accolade?
Someone called Taylor Swift, an American pop singer who has billions of fans, has won seven Grammy awards and is, they say, savvy and unafraid of taking on those in the record industry.
Resentment started rising, as it does when you start getting older. The young are simply everywhere, everywhere, thinking they own the world we made.
We get these bad thoughts flooding up too often. In truth, it is rage against the passing of time. So this time I listened to Swift’s “Eyes Open” and other songs and understood why. And also that the young are so much more together and confident than we ever were. And many are generous too. If only we’d ask.
For example, I received an email from www.studentathome.co.uk, a start-up company of bright young undergraduates and graduates who are happy to help people who find it hard to manage new smartphones, iPads and computer technology.
I needed someone who could teach me and not make me feel stupid. A young woman came and did just that, with much warmth and grace.
On another occasion, I was shopping for a Christmas present for the daughter of a friend. I asked a twentysomething customer if she would try it on and show me. “Sure,” she said, with a dazzling smile.
I see it now. Youth and beauty before age. That’s how it is and must be.