‘Could I approach a nice looking woman in the street and complement her on her dress?’ A lonely bachelor seriously asked me this today. Absolutely, certainly without a doubt, he can’t. Such an action would be seen as little short of rape by many of our more advanced thinking sisters, particularly those who style themselves, ‘stand-up comedians.’ By the way he was blushing I couldn’t help wondering if my friend had already committed this reckless act of importuning. But as he and I were both in the vicarage kitchen eating Morrison’s doughnuts, trying not to have impure thoughts as the jam oozed through their round, hot, soft little bodies, he couldn’t have done. He’d already be under lock and key.
Even as we spoke, the forces of decency and feminist comedy have ensured that one man with unfortunate manners has been forced to slink out of Australia after women’s groups convinced the immigration ministry to revoke his visa. American provocateur and international nob, Julien Blanc, has seriously upset the sisterhood.
‘This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas,’Australian minister Scott Morrison said yesterday. ‘He was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and those values are abhorred in this country.’
Not exactly true as everyone knows. Australian men actually came in for a pounding on BBC Woman’s Hour today, November 12th 2014, in the same programme as a report hammering Julien Blanc. But despite these confusions, nearly 10,000 people, at least that is the figure given by the Guardian, accounts vary, have signed a petition to deny Blanc a UK visa as well. The same action is going on in Canada, and there is an international twitter storm with women worldwide, well in the educated West, calling for this ‘criminal’ to be banned from travelling outside the USA.
In this day and age, rather unbelievably, Blanc is a self-styled ‘pick-up artist,’ someone who specialises, he says, in ‘helping’ lonely, socially inept men to get in touch with woman right out there in broad daylight, on the street. To actually approach them, without so much as a ‘by your leave,’ and say silly things to them, such as, ‘By Jove, I like that titfer (hat) you’re wearing.’ In fact much of his language is in comprehensible to me, with recent coined words mixed in with puerile locker room smut.
This use of a populist petition is connected with the fate of a comedian called ‘Dapper Laughs.’ This former cruise ship entertainer, real name Daniel O’Reilly, had his show dropped by ITV2 recently after 60,000 people signed a petition calling for him to be banned because, it was said, he encouraged the harassment of women. He was dropped by the network and says he is ruined.
Boys’ banter and Laddish jokes are hated by modern feminists, who want all such ‘laughs’ labelled dangerous to women and banned. In the new age they envisage, just over the horizon, much male comedy will be called crime. The popular culture of the recent past when the public were force fed a diet of garrulous northern comics, Carry On films, and the lurid antics of the arch criminal Norman Wisdom, is properly over, and they do not want any semblance of it coming back.
In the face of this Blanc has pressed all the right, or rather sinfully wrong buttons. He has included an element of racism in all this, or rather he talks about sex with different nationalities and as he’s white, that must be racist. In one of Blanc’s best known videos, ‘White Male Fucks Asian Women in Tokyo (And the Beautiful Methods To It)’ he describes seducing Japanese women.
‘At least in Tokyo, if you’re a white male, you can do what you want,’ he says hopefully. ‘I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick. Head, on the dick, yelling, ‘pikachu’, with a pikachu shirt.’
I’m not sure what all that is about. Reading about Blanc and what the Guardian seriously calls, ‘Pick- up artists culture,’ opens up a whole new vocabulary, including words such as ‘negging.’ This really got the ladies on Woman’s Hour wound up, as it means giving negative compliments, such as, ‘Your hair looks good. Not many people would choose to wear that style.’ In other words the kind of compliment that women give each other every day, and many mothers offer their daughters all the years of their lives. But in the mouths of men it constitutes unforgiveable abuse.
According to Lindy West on the Guardian, the evil Blanc with his courses on chatting up girls, turns men,’into repulsive, entitled, sexually aggressive creeps with horrible fashion sense. He’s currently touring the globe leading expensive seminars where he teaches sad sacks how to violate women’s boundaries through persistence, psychological abuse or outright sexual violence.’
She calls Blanc’s public approaches, ‘nothing short of a violent, racist sexual assault.’ He is so vile in her eyes that she doesn’t even want women to see what he does, rather like the Victorian newspaper reader’s reaction to the Ripper murders. ‘And you don’t even have to use your imagination or take my word for it – he recorded his attacks on video, if you have the stomach.’
She is terrified of his laddish language.’ Pick-up artist culture is steeped in the language of coercion, manipulation, and pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo,’ she says. ‘Women are targets to be hunted, maths equations to be solved, literally objects to be ‘picked up.’ ‘
In the video I had the stomach for, I didn’t see him physically lifting anyone, or actually touching people. He has never been arrested or prosecuted for assault. But she goes on, ‘ It’s explicit objective is to disregard women’s signals, and privilege men’s desire over women’s autonomy. In other words, SEXY.’
We can’t have that, and she’s been joined in her desperate call for universal defence against him and his like by Kate Smurthwaite, a stand-up comedian and political activist. A member of London Feminist Network and the National Secular Society, vice-chair and media spokesbeing for British NGO Abortion Rights UK, Smurthwaite also finds time to attend numerous rallies including the, ‘Rally for Free Expression.’
Ms Smurthwaite also find time to teach, or perhaps preach, what she terms comedy, at the City Academy in London. Sadly she doesn’t believe that when men approach her in the street to make unwanted flattering remarks about her hair, a witty riposte or bit of cutting banter could be used to deter them. Despite her educational course, she does not see comedy as a real weapon in women’s hands, at least not against the wicked violence of Julien Blanc and his cohorts of ‘sad sacks,’ loose on our shopping streets. She prefers to invoke the dead hand of the Home Office.
Perhaps her idea on what constitutes abuse or an attack on women is just different from mine, but rather than chat-up lines, I would list; forced marriage, honour killings and FGM as rather more important. Smurthwaite is obviously passionate about the cause of women and their right to free expression, so I wonder whether she has ever asked Theresa May to prevent entry to this country of radical Islamic ‘teachers’ who have enormous influence among young men in UK mosques. Has she called for a petition to ban entry to the likes of Saudi cleric Mohammed al Arifi who has been filmed preaching at Cardiff’s Al Manar mosque. He has been banned from Switzerland for his extremist views but has visited the UK several times.
I don’ t know the long term effects of Julien Blanc’s teachings and blandishments, but Reyaad Khan, 20, Nasser Muthana, also 20, and his brother Aseel, 17, from Cardiff, who attended the Al Manar mosque, are now known to be fighting in Syria and Iraq. They are as good as dead.
The Puritan sisterhood, even those who like to think of themselves telling jokes on stage, want to lay down the law for people and exclude anyone who laughs at them. Kate Smurthwaite may be brilliantly funny on stage, but I have my doubts that her view of what comedy is would be the same as mind. My experience tells me that the skill of a stand-up comedian rests on having if not a jaded and cynical view of life, then a heightened sense of proportion. This kind of humour succeeds by sensing when the scales of common sense are tilting and other people’s judgment is slipping. It then risks making a full frontal attack. So far, these sisters of sobriety have made themselves worthy of laughter and jokes but seem highly unlikely to be any good at cracking them.