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Why won't men condemn sexual villains like Julien Blanc and Ched Evans?

By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

The basics of this story are known - too well known, in fact. Julien Blanc, a reptilian American bloke, promises to teach men to pull, manipulate and (allegedly) ravage women at will. All for a price, of course. His company is doing very well, thank you.

This specious "pick-up artist" runs miry boot camps where men - mostly losers - are taught these dirty tricks. The coupling guru's advice includes "use coercion and threats, emotional abuse ... to keep power and control". He films himself grabbing Japanese women in Tokyo and pushing them to his groin. "If you are a white man, you can do what you want." There is worse. His trained instructors have already started delivering sessions in a London hotel.

Australia has thrown him out, and he may become persona non grata in Canada.

However, Theresa May has prohibited him from entering because he is a threat to society. Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister responsible for women's rights, had also wanted to keep him out. An internet petition had gathered more than 140,000 signatures calling for this ban. I can't be absolutely sure of this, but I expect most of those who signed up are females. Rape crisis centres and groups protecting women against violence have galvanised opposition to Blanc, a man, they say, who legitimises sexual predation and sends the message that females are things, objects without brains, will or agency.

We feminists had a busy week. Just before this entirely justifiable tumult, Ched Evans, the footballer convicted of rape in 2012, was allowed to train with his previous Sheffield United teammates.

He has never expressed any remorse and still claims that he is innocent. The girl involved was smashed, and that, I agree, was not wise. But no woman "asks for it", ever. Of course, he has done time and should be able to work again. But he can't be allowed to reclaim his fame and status. Principled women objected and were mauled by internet dogs. Athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill asked the club to remove her name from a stand named after her. Hideous tweets followed. One said: "I hope he (Evans) rapes her."

In spite of the real progress made by feminism over the decades, women and girls are still abused, violated, tortured, killed, defamed, threatened, bullied and dehumanised by males in the UK. Some are familiar to them, others strangers. A few weeks ago, I wrote an entire column sympathising with young men who feel lost, unwanted or severely distressed to the point of suicide. Today, however, I ask this question: why don't more British men condemn male brutishness?

Millions of them could come out and shout "not in my name", issue statements, hold rallies, petition politicians. But they don't. Some recently donned silly T-shirts proclaiming "This is what a feminist looks like" and thought that was enough. It bloody well is not.

Don't they mind? Don't they care? Or is it that they just want an easy life and can't be bothered? Worse still, millions probably think it doesn't matter, that it is just brainless, shrill women making a fuss about what is simply biological determinism: men are men and boys will be boys. For feminists, men are not the enemy, but male inertia and excuses are. The African-American writer Bell Hooks was right when she observed that hard masculinity "estranges men from themselves". And that estrangement damages them and causes untold misery to others.

In her spirited book Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, journalist and activist Laurie Penny reflects on contemporary, hi-tech misogyny: "It is as if, by talking about the hurt women experience, often because we are women, we are somehow preventing men from speaking about the painful pressures of masculinity. Interestingly, for many men, the only time they do feel able to talk about their own suffering is when they are trying to stop women talking about theirs".

Some of the crazies who blog and tweet sexist and racist obscenities must be deeply sad and alienated. But that does not give them the right to be irredeemably foul. Again, I wonder how decent men stay quiet and disengaged and don't feel the urge to take on their overactive, web-obsessed brethren.

When Islamist terrorists do terrible things, law-abiding Muslims are put under severe pressure to condemn the villains. So let's do the same to men. Demand that they reprove Blanc and Evans, famous sexual violators and internet beasts who come for women in public life. They could also denounce cultural sexism - Page 3 nudes, Jeremy Clarkson, sicko adverts and wolf whistles - but maybe that's asking too much of the other sex.

Come on, guys: husbands, sons, friends, colleagues. We can create a clean world of real equality and respect, unpolluted by the bad breath of men such as Blanc and his acolytes. But we need you to be with us women on this march. Man up, but in a good way.

Belfast Telegraph


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