Meet The Woman Who's On Her Way To Stopping Julien Blanc From Entering The UK
She is remaining anonymous to avoid death threats – but has spoken to BuzzFeed News about the petition that has sparked a national campaign.
Pick up artist Julien Blanc has made headlines across the world for teaching men to harass, manipulate, and degrade women.
When it became known that he was coming to the UK, one woman – who has had to stay anonymous for fear of death threats – set up a petition that has had an impressive 145,000 signatures in a mere week.
Now, politicians have taken notice and have also called for his visa to be rejected.
Her husband is the only one who knows that she is behind the petition on Change.org, but she told BuzzFeed News that it doesn't matter she is unknown: She is now helping amplify the voices of women and men across the country who are taking a stand against Blanc.
BuzzFeed News asked her about what inspired her to take action.
When did you first hear about Blanc and what was your first impression?
I think it was on Twitter; only very recently – I'd read about him assaulting/choking girls in Japan, boasting about being able to get away with it through being a white male. I couldn't really take in that this kind of racist, sexist bullshit was not only being considered acceptable, but that he was holding seminars and proposing to teach other men to do this. It was simultaneously massively enraging, and truly heartbreaking. Women everywhere deal constantly with everything from low-grade everyday 'smile love' sexism through to physical assault and are told in turns to 'ignore it' , 'don't overreact', 'are you sure you didn't do something to provoke him'? So I decided I'd had enough.
Why did you decide to set up the petition, and do you think it will make a difference?
I was sitting on the sofa with my husband last Saturday, reading Twitter and I starting ranting about him, then realising I could stop being angry and do something more productive. I checked and there wasn't a UK-focused petition – he'd been kicked out of Australia, and Canada was getting its act together, so I thought we should too. It's generated a lot of press, and I'm hoping eventually the powers-that-be will have to take notice.
What has the reaction to the petition been?
We have just hit over 110,000 signatures, so I think we can say it's been successful. Women are tired of this, and frankly men should be too. The actions of individuals like Blanc ruin things for everyone. Most men aren't like this; Blanc makes it appear that they are.
I'll be happier when there's some kind of official comment from Theresa May or the Home Office. Currently they say that they're aware of the petition, but nothing yet has happened. He comes here on 21st November; I'd like to see that prevented.
What are your thoughts on the women who are using social media to bring down the men that treat women in this way?
I'm heartened by the fact that social media allows women's voices to be heard in a way they haven't previously. It also allows allies' voices to shout just as loudly – a combined force that is harder and harder to ignore. Sexism is also being called out more and more; I think eyes are being opened to just how invasive and damaging it is. It hurts everyone; not just women.
What do you think will happen next with Blanc?
In an ideal world, the Home Office will block his visa. It won't stop him pontificating online about assaulting women, indeed he's entitled to the same freedom of speech that I am. However I do hope raising awareness of his and RSD's approach to women will mean more and more doors are shut in his face. In a truly Utopian world, I would hope he might reconsider his views. A bit unicorns and rainbows that one, but I can hope.
I understand you are keeping yourself anonymous/fake name on the petition – what are your thoughts on why women, such as yourself, are forced to do this because of abuse online.
Ask Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and Caroline Criado-Perez what it's like to be a vocal woman using her real name on the internet. Online abuse is everywhere, at every turn where women (and men) speak out against misogyny. It stems from the same rotten core, but the more we expose it, the more chance we have of creating a less systemically sexism world for future generations.