Australia shuts down sexist ‘pick up artist’

November 7, 2014
Women protesting at Melbourne's Southbank.
Women protesting at Melbourne's Southbank. Photo: Chloe Booker

Protesters successfully stopped self-described “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from giving his planned seminar on October 6 on how to manipulate and sexually assault women.

Protests followed Blanc throughout his attempted Australian tour, causing venues to dump his events in multiple cities, and he finally returned to the US on November 7.

Below is an account by blogger Kirsty Mac of the action against Blanc’s Real Social Dynamism (RSD) “coaching” seminar, which his assistant Max tried to hold on a last-minute boat cruise.

* * *

It was a glorious evening down at the St Kilda pier. As I arrived it was clear two groups had formed.

I am warmed to see so many of the good kind of people and feel comforted. The vibe is high-spirited on our side. There’s maybe 70 or more of us.

Across from us, a much smaller group had formed. You know the type — not a hint of irony or self-awareness and reeking of the latest aftershave brand. These men were clearly going to the “seminar”.

The Shut Down Julien Blanc Facebook page updated saying Berth 5 Southbank was our destination.

Upon arrival at Berth 5, a crowd of 30 or so had re-joined. There was a lot of noise going on and the RSD men were on board a Melbourne River Cruise ferry. I start saying to the ferry driver: “You need to stop this boat and are going to be on the news.”

He is open to listening but another employee aggressively says the boat will be leaving. I grab the rope so the ferry can’t move. The adrenalin starts pumping as I could see a clear jump over onto the boat. From where I was standing, I was the only person that could board it safely. What was I going to do? It was up to me. Either I boarded the ferry or it travelled down the river. I launch on and try to unravel the rope. But I am shaking and I can’t untangle it.

I pull it with one arm and reach my other arm out to my new friends on the dock. They hold my hand. One person starts saying that it is illegal for the ferry guy to touch me. The only option for the boat now was to be docked. There was no way I was giving in. The ropes are attached again and the boat is docked.

Here we stay for the next two hours. A stationary ferry full of RSD men and the dock alongside it, full of us.
The seminar begins on board the boat. We begin to chant “Stop the rape class”, “Whose streets? Our streets”, and more amazing chants.

They were all trapped on an unmoving boat without the comforts they would have enjoyed at the Como or the West Beach Pavilion. Trying to concentrate on the seminar over the loud chanting and still convincing themselves that this was all worth it must have been a strange feeling.

A large crowd had gathered along the top of the dock. We told them: “This guy chokes women, and he is teaching these men how to choke women”. The crowd were gasping with utter disgust. Cameras were buzzing everywhere.

The police promise us that if we move back they will disembark the men. The men start to pile off the boat. Cameras start to flash and the shame of being in front of a big crowd hits their faces. Where will these photos of them end up? Maybe on the news tomorrow.

Some try to act smug, like the whole thing had not affected them. But their faces told a different story.

No hotel in Melbourne would take them. They had to meet in secret. Their boat never left Southbank dock and their seminar was cut short and completely distracted by chanting.

They had to meet at St Kilda pier to be greeted by people who had beaten them at their own ridiculous game and outnumbered 5:1. From there they had to find their way into the city and then aboard a boat with people hurling truth bombs at them.

They didn’t get the 5-star hotel they wanted. They had no refreshing beverages, no projector and no dignity.
They got off the boat surrounded by police and to a large crowd of onlookers all taking photos of them and the media taping them.

We left knowing we had won. Not just that, we left knowing that this was the beginning of the end for them. We are growing infinitely and we plan on there being no next time.

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