Dapper Laughs and Julien Blanc, both men, both sexist and both severely disliked by anyone resembling a feminist (note: a feminist is a person who wants men and women to have equal rights).
The increasing presence of internet sensations, normally relatively attractive men, boasting about their sexual prowess and women-seducing power, is indeed becoming ever more worrying. After a period of acceptability, a darkening shadow of controversy and disgust is beginning to cloud over. ‘Dapper Laughs’, or Daniel O’Reilly as he is referred to in the comedy world, spoke on Newsnight at the beginning of November admitting to his mistakes regarding the making of offence jokes about rape and homelessness. In the same month, Julien Blanc, a controversial US “pick-up artist” who holds seminars claiming to teach men how to attract women, was barred from entering the UK. Although both events are a step in the right direction to prevent further degradation of women and their body parts, the question must be asked: how did we let this kind of sexist behaviour happen in the first place?
Indeed, this behaviour is extremely worrying in a supposedly modern age where gender equality should be the least of our worries. Although it is, at least, consoling that both Julien Blanc and Daniel O’Reilly have had their careers ruined and influential government officials shun them – hopefully now gender equality may be able to get back on track. But what if we are too late to stop this degradation of women in the 21st century? As the Home Secretary says, “if [Julien Blanc] was allowed to perform in the UK I have no doubt that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase”. But we must remember, that Dapper Laughs has graced our FaceBook news feed for over a year now. In the past year we have seen a man post numerous videos of sexual harassment disguised as a joke. Due to this exposure, many more men may now find it acceptable to treat girls with similar respect (or the lack of it). As twenty-year-old student Zara Lindsay says, “there’s a general feeling that sexual assault is something that you should just take on a night out” if you are a girl and that “having people like Dapper Laughs holding gigs here suggests that this is an OK attitude and that sends out the wrong message.”
Although the sexist ways of Dapper Laughs has now been stopped and his reputation destroyed, there are still many more men replicating his ways. Julien Blanc, for example, has now been banned in three countries after trying to teach seminars to men on how to use highly abusive techniques when dating women. There is hope that his career will follow the same path as Dapper Laugh’s did – to a dead end. Despite this ban however, there are many more countries that Blanc has been granted access to, allowing him to infiltrate his sexist views into numerous societies, leading to a possible generation of men who will become normalised to this level of sexual abuse against women.
It is as if as a society we are backtracking sixty years to a time of strict gender roles and limited opportunities for women. If these sexist male role models are not stopped and men are not taught that this kind of behaviour is wrong, then before we know it, history may well repeat itself.
Illustration: Asher Klassen