Brazilian social media, following the example of other countries, has erupted in uproar over the past few weeks over US “pickup artist” Julien Blanc's scheduled visits to the country — and the country's authorities have listened.
A petition against his coming has gathered more than 350,000 signatures. Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called Itamaraty, responded quickly: It decided to deny Blanc's visa just two days after the petition was launched.
His two lectures in Brazil, scheduled for January in the cities Rio de Janeiro and Florianópolis, cost US$800 for a ticket. Blanc is a “coach” for the company Real Social Dynamics, which calls itself the “international leader in dating advice.” He has become notorious recently for his advocacy of violent and sexist approaches in order to “seduce” women. Facebook page Ozomexplicanista (“Mensplainist”) has been capturing some of his tweets in screenshots (Blanc made his account private after his tactics became world famous):
His violent speech and open promotion of rape were the basis of the social media campaign against him, which urged authorities to deny his entrance — a decision that the Australian government also took following public outcry. People in the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan are similarly clamoring for the cancellation of his lectures and visa.
Lola Aronovich, of the feminist blog Escreva Lola Escreva (Write Lola Write), republished a comment of one of her readers who has access to the Brazilian “pick-up artist” community. He described the kind of audience who praises figures like Blanc:
O grupo PUA Brasil é antigo, forte, bem organizado. Eles realizaram eventos cobrando R$ 500 o ingresso.
Eu passei horas lendo o que essa turma do PUA Brasil escreve. Grande parte é isso ai mesmo: estupro de vulnerável. Técnicas de conquista, sedução, sedação e como não deixar indícios de violência sexual e não criar imagem de malvado transferindo para a mulher por meio de técnicas subliminares elaboradas a responsabilidade pela relação. […]A principal vítima desses PUAs são pré-adolescentes que atingiram a idade de consentimento, 14 anos. Elas são mais fáceis de ser conquistadas e têm vergonha de expor a violência.
The PUA Brazil group is old, strong and well organized. They hold events charging R$500 (about US$192) a ticket. I spent hours reading what those people of PUA Brazil write. Most of it is exactly this: statutory rape. Techniques for subjugation, seduction, sedation, how to avoid leaving traces of sexual violence or a bad guy image, transferring onto the woman through elaborate subliminal techniques the responsibility for the relationship. […]
The main victim of those PUAs are pre-teens who have reached the age of consent, 14 years old. They are more easily seduced and are ashamed to expose the violence.
On the Avaaz petition page, organizers stressed the overarching meaning of the campaign:
Essa petição não é uma causa só pra que Julien Blanc não entre no Brasil, gira em torno de uma causa maior: O Combate a violencia contra a mulher, pois não podemos suportar mais e é uma prova de que estamos juntos para combater isso!
This petition is not so that Julien Blanc isn't allowed to enter Brazil, it's about a greater cause: Fighting violence against women because we cannot bear it anymore and it is an evidence that we are all united in the fight against this!
For feminist blogger Nádia Lapa, the boycott must be extended to those who sponsor Blanc's tour:
Ainda precisamos descobrir quem está patrocinando os eventos no Brasil e manifestar nosso repúdio e boicote. O que não precisamos é de uma convenção de homens que odeiam as mulheres.
We still need to find out who is sponsoring the events in Brazil and demonstrate our outrage and boycott. What we do not need is a convention of men who hate women.
Violence and rape culture
According to the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security, a woman is raped in Brazil every 10 minutes. The Map of Violence 2012, from the Latin American School of Social Sciences, showed that 43,000 women were murdered in Brazil over the course of 10 years, an alarming number considering the recent progress in legislation and public policies for gender violence.
Psychologist and blogger Luciana Nepomuceno emphasized the importance of analyzing the situation beyond the “shock” that Blanc's explicit support of rape and aggressive tactics cause:
A existência dele e de um curso assim é possível apenas porque a nossa sociedade trata a mulher como um ser “menos que” o homem. Menos humano. Menos sujeito de direitos. Ele tá na paleta entre o estuprador em série e o cara que faz piada com os amigos dizendo que “mulher quando diz não, é talvez, e quando diz talvez, é sim”.
The existence of someone like him and a course like this is only possible because our society sees women as a being “less than” men. Less human. Less subject of rights. He is somewhere in the spectrum that goes from the serial rapist to the guy that make jokes with his friends saying that “when women say no, it means maybe, and when they say maybe, it means yes”.
Pois é, o que existem são mulheres reproduzindo o machismo, pois foram (des)educadas a pensar que só serão alguma coisa com um omi do lado (e todos seus privilégio$ de omi)… Essa.merda toda é um círculo vicioso e não sei o que é mais difícil desconstruir :(
Yeah, what we have is women reproducing sexism because they were (mis)educated to think that they will only be somebody with a man (and all his privilege$)… All this shit is a vicious cycle and I don't know what is harder to deconstruct :(
The mobilization in many countries against these “lectures” demonstrate the growing rejection of rape culture, while violence against women continues to exist at terrifying levels, including in developed countries, as recent research conduced by the European Union demonstrated. As Luciana Napomuceno pointed out:
Eu acho que as estruturas mudam na dinâmica dialética entre matéria e simbólico e um país dizer NÃO, não aceito esse discurso aqui, ainda mais um país jovem e que está se construindo – como o nosso, implica em um ganho não imediato com implicações que nem se pode dimensionar. É o sentido implicado nessa negativa que importa. O não, não pode entrar vai na contramão de toda uma cultura de apaziguamento e consentimento em relação à violência contra as mulheres. Seria um não muito bem vindo.Acho que a gente pode e deve fazer escolhas políticas. Acho que negar entrada a um discurso de violência é, sim, uma atitude política necessária. É hora de parar de minimizar as questões relativas à violência contra a mulher. É hora de tirar a luta contra o machismo das notas de rodapé.
I think that the structures change with the dynamic dialectics between the material and the symbolic and for a country to say NO, I don't accept this discourse here, even more in a young country that is building itself up like ours, it implies in not an immediate gain, but with implications that we cannot measure at the moment. It is the meaning of this negative response that matters. The no, you cannot come in contrasts with a culture of appeasement of and consent to violence against women. It would be a really welcomed “no”.
I think we can and must make political choices. The negative response to a violent discourse is a needed political attitude. It's time to stop minimizing issues related with violence against women. It's time to take the fight against sexism out of the footnotes.
After staying silent on the matter, Blanc granted an interview to CNN on November 17, in which he apologized for his attitudes, claiming his intention was never to offend or cause harm. Journalist Chris Cuomo, who conducted the interview, questioned the sincerity of Blanc's apologies, pointing to evidence that he openly encouraged violent tactics. Blanc defended himself, saying his online posts were simply a “horrible attempt at humor.”