ABOVE: Watch Global National’s Mike Le Couteur report on the social media campaign to keep Julien Blanc out of Canada.
This post has been updated several times since originally published on 11/09 to report developments.
TORONTO — Embattled Real Social Dynamics (RSD) has reportedly cancelled its live seminars because it fears for the safety of its instructors.
According to customer service representative David Latos, the controversial seminars will now be streamed live on YouTube using Twitter as a platform for asking questions.
“There will not be an actual in-person event for the time being until we are 100% sure that our instructors are not in harms way,” Latos wrote in a response to an inquiry via the RSD website.
One such event is scheduled for Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.
More than 63,000 people have added their names to online petitions calling for RSD “pick-up artist” Julien Blanc to be banned from Canada — and thousands more are seeking to keep him out of the UK, Japan, Korea and Brazil.
The campaign against Blanc and RSD prompted the company to remove a list of scheduled “bootcamps” in Canada and Japan.
Blanc is under fire for his lessons on how to pick-up women using emotional tricks and physical force — and for a series of misogynistic tweets. He is also seen in videos posted online demonstrating how he pulls women’s heads into his crotch and putting his hand around their throats.
Lindy West, a columnist for UK newspaper The Guardian, described Blanc as “an odious brand of conman who specialises in ‘helping’ lonely, desperate, socially inept men by turning them into repulsive, entitled, sexually aggressive creeps with horrible fashion sense.”
In Canada, a social media campaign using the hashtag #KeepJulienBlancOutOfCanada kicked off last weekend.
Overseas, similar campaigns are underway.
A petition to keep Blanc out of the UK topped 72,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon while one calling for him to be banned from entering Japan has surpassed 47,000.
The Independent quoted a Home Office spokesperson as saying the Home Secretary “has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.”
According to the Japan Times, there may be legitimate grounds to block Blanc. His previous seminars there may have been conducted without a proper work visa and a widely-circulated video appears to show him committing “forcible indecency” — a serious crime in Japan.
The Korea Observer reported that immigration officials there have vowed to block Blanc from entering the country.
BELOW: Watch Global Toronto’s Mark Carcasole report on the social media campaign against Julien Blanc.
Last week, Blanc was prevented from conducting seminars in Australia when its immigration minister revoked his visa.
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Monday he might follow the lead of his Australian counterpart.
Alexander called Blanc’s material “completely counter to Canadian values and common decency.”
“As a husband and father of two young girls, I find this person’s views, his actions and the fact he profits from them, absolutely and utterly disgusting,” Alexander told Global News, in a statement.
“We are looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”
Alexander said he does not want to facilitate violence against Canadians. “It is my duty as a Minister to help ensure that women are protected from all forms of subjugation, in line with Canadian laws.”
Blanc has been in cities across Canada many times but the social media campaign comes as the issue of violence against women is in the spotlight following public allegations against former radio host Jian Ghomeshi.
(Ghomeshi has not been charged with any offence and has vowed to “meet these allegations directly.”)
On Tuesday, RSD removed the list of Canadian “bootcamps” dates from its website without explanation. The company has not confirmed that the events are cancelled.
A series of $2,000 bootcamps — where men learn how to use emotional tricks and physical force to attract women — were scheduled for Toronto (Jan. 8-10, Mar. 5-7, Aug. 27-29), Montreal (Mar. 12-14, Sept. 3-5), Calgary (Mar. 19-21, Aug. 20-22), and Vancouver (Mar. 26-28, April 16-18, Aug. 13-15).
It was never clear if Blanc was due to attend any of the bootcamps.
Neither RSD or Blanc has responded to interview requests.
He was in Australia last week for several RSD events but an online protest — and media interest — convinced three host hotels to pull the plug.
“Following an objective review, we are in the process of advising Real Social Dynamics of our decision not to proceed as their event venue,” Melbourne’s Como hotel tweeted. Later, it tweeted:
Australia’s immigration minister Scott Morrison told Sky News on Friday that Blanc’s visa was cancelled late Thursday.
“This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and those are values abhorred in this country,” Morrison explained.
Ken Lay, police commissioner for Victoria, Australia, issued a statement Friday in which he called Blanc’s messages “deeply disturbing and offensive.”
It is not known where RSD planned to hold its Canadian bootcamps but previous seminars were hosted at the University of Toronto’s 89 Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre; at a Best Western hotel in Vancouver; and at both a Holiday Inn Select and a Best Western in Montreal.
In the U.S., ticket processing website EventBrite has severed ties with RSD. In a statement, the company said RSD events “violated our Terms of Service.”
Swiss-born, California-based Blanc has done well with his message — which includes telling men that emotional abuse and physical force is the best way to attract women.
He posted photos on Instagram — since deleted — showing him grabbing women by the throats and using the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld.
Blanc’s blog posts and videos have titles like “God Is On My Side: Intense Self-Amusement Tactics That Will Let You Choke Girls For Fun” and “Make Her Obey: How To Never Give Her A Chance To Say No.”
RSD videos on YouTube have recently been set to private or removed.
Those tweets included messages like “Don’t worry. I only abuse women,” “Statutory rape? Blame it on the dog years,” “When does no mean no?” and “Dear girls, could you please save me the effort and roofie your own drink?”
BELOW: Click through for a sample of tweets from Julien Blanc.
Blanc once tweeted an image of a chart used by support groups to identify signs of domestic abuse and added the message: “May as well be a checklist… #HowToMakeHerStay”.
In a video that remains on YouTube (warning: contains language that some may find offensive), Blanc is heard telling a room full of men about how he went around Tokyo grabbing women and pushing their heads into his crotch.
“If you’re a white male, you can do what you want,” he says, before raving about Tokyo “love hotels” equipped with whips. “Usually I just pull out my own belt.”
Blanc is then seen out and about in Tokyo grabbing women by the head and pushing their faces to his crotch.
The movement against Blanc’s misogyny was sparked by Jennifer Li of Washington, D.C., who started the hashtag #TakeDownJulienBlanc.
A “Take Down Julien Blanc” Facebook page, reportedly not associated with Li, was also created.
There are also several petitions at change.org urging various companies — including Apple, which hosts RSD podcasts on iTunes — to dissociate themselves from Blanc and RSD.
Several hotels in the U.S. and Britain have also agreed not to host upcoming RSD events.
BELOW: Watch Julien Blanc in an October 2013 video posted on YouTube (and shot in Toronto) talk about “How To Make Her Feel Super Comfortable With Anything You’ll Do To Her”. WARNING: Some viewers may find this content offensive. Discretion is advised.
Canadian actress Maria Del Mar and comic actor Shaun Majumder were among those who weighed in on Twitter.
Canada has previously banned a number of high profile speakers, including David Irving, Zakir Naik and Srdja Trifkovic, for their controversial views on different topics.
Blanc does have defenders. A Facebook fan page created Friday reads: “A lot of people are trying to stop Julien from teaching. He is not a sexist that the feminists and social media make him out to be, he out there to help guys to improve their lives, not to teach sexual assault.”
An online petition urging Facebook not to censor Blanc had received fewer than 2,100 names by Wednesday.
Based in Los Angeles, RSD was co-founded by Ottawa-born Owen Cook. (He goes by Tyler Durden, the name of Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club.)
One RSD video posted online shows Cook using a gay slur and referring to a woman as a “b****.”
In a Nov. 7 forum post (that has since been removed from public view), Cook called Blanc’s Tokyo video “stupid” and said he “condemned the behaviour.”
He wrote: “Sorry for the video. We don’t condone it. Julien himself doesn’t, and was an idiot trying to be inflammatory for posting it.
“That’s all I can really say about it.”
On Saturday the company tweeted: “Beware of looking at the world through someone else’s eyes. #GroupThink #FreeMind #TakeTheRedPill” accompanied by a Mark Twain quote (“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”).
– with a file by Mike Le Couteur / Global News