Dear reader, I have to confess the following: there has been too much sex in my life in Japan recently. I suppose, on the face of it, that to some would not sound like a bad thing, certainly not something to offer sympathy over; I do live in the land of cute Japanese women, so how could I complain? Well let me tell you how.
On November 2nd, I was scanning through my YouTube subscriptions and I came across a video by ‘Unrested’, whom I know and as a fellow Osaka resident. He was alerting his audience in, shall we say passionate terms, about Real Social Dynamics and a man that goes by the name of ‘Julien Blanc’. There was a link to a video in which ‘Julien Blanc’ reportedly spoke. He said:
“If you’re a white male in Tokyo, you can do what you want. 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”.
He continues to suggest the following:
“Every foreigner who is white at least does this, and you’ll be roaming through the streets, and there’s Japanese people everywhere, and you’ll spot that one foreigner, and your eyes will lock, and you know that he knows that you know, and it’s like this guilty look like you both f**ked a hooker or something.”
Initially, I truly thought it was a hoax, some elaborate prank, but no it is real. ‘Julien Blanc’, on behalf of a company called Real Social Dynamics, gave talks about how to seduce women. At least that the kindest way I can describe what Blanc did, I suppose, Blanc and his colleagues at Real Social Dynamics would prefer the term ‘Pick Up Artist’. I would like to say that he appeared to be teaching men throughout the world how to sexually assault women.
The reaction from social media and journalism was impressive; From YouTube to The Japan Times and other media, there was veritable tsunami of support. Blogs were posted, petitions were issued and signed, and protests were made. On November 7th, The Guardian reported that Blanc’s Australian visa had been cancelled, and as of November 9th a Change.org petition against Blanc’s Tokyo tour date had 32,588 signees. As I write this on the evening of November 10th, it appears that Julien Blanc’s Tokyo tour date has been canceled.
I felt this was a big win, and it restored my faith in social media, maybe social media is not the purveyor of misogyny, racism and all the other attendant isms, but is in fact, an instrument of social champagne, or maybe, since I’m in Japan, the sake and toast the demise of ‘Julien Blanc’?
Well, no, not quite. Where there is action there is, inevitably, resistance to that action. The hash tag ‘#supportjulienblanc’ has appeared on Twitter, as of November 6th, and he has his own petition page ‘Do not Censor Julien Blanc’. Apparently:
“He is NOT sexist. He is NOT racist. In fact he has helped hundreds of thousands of men to find success in their dating lives.”
Thankfully Blanc’s petition has a pitiful amount of signees, as of November 10th, only 1,862; you need in excess of 30,000 to have any real chance of success. However, the whole sorry saga raises another question for me, and it’s this: Is there something about Japan that encourages this sort of person?
Little time goes by without some sex-related story appearing in the Japanese media. On October 23rd, The Japan Times in the article ‘New trade chief slapped by S&M scandal after only three days on job’, relayed the news that the office of Yoichi Miyazawa, the Japanese Minister of Trade, had reportedly paid ¥18,230 for services at an S/M club. On November 4th it was reported in the same publication, the article ‘Notorious ‘JK’ business exploits troubled high school girls for sex’ that schoolgirls were being aggressively recruited by the illegal sex industry in Akihabara. Two stories about sex coming out of Japan, in the space of three weeks, it’s quite easy to make the case that Japan appears to have sex on the brain, and its citizenry is comprised of some very naughty boys. We have to ask the following question: Are people like ‘Julien Blanc’ allowed to do what they do by a culture within Japan that seems, as some level, no matter how discretely, to encourage such behavior?
If there is a culture that encourages behavior like Blanc’s it is certainly not unique to Japan, but I am willing to argue that such a culture seems to be heightened here in Japan. Whether be found manifest in a perfectly legal domain, such in girl bands like AkB48 or the maid cafes of Akihabara, or in the more legally grey area of hostess and clubs and the forbidden worlds of soaplands, sex and sexuality does seem to be out there in the open here in Japan.
Sex possibly being out in the open, does not excuse Blanc of course, but does point towards a potential problem regarding attitudes towards sex here in Japan. I am still concerned by the response of Japanese female friend of mine, whom, when I told her about Blanc and his ‘Pikachu and girl to crotch technique’ of picking up the ladies, responded with the following remark:
“Not a nice guy. But if he’s talking about Tokyo he’s kind of right”.