In light of a Toronto man’s death threats against a woman who rejected him, Vv Magazine’s Sarah Botelho delves into dangers of local pick-up artists and male entitlement.
What do you get when you combine centuries of reinforced male entitlement, normalized ideas of violent masculinity and the wondrous world of the Internet? A misogynistic monster, that’s what.
In the past few months, Toronto has been no stranger to the infiltration of the Internet’s latest appalling sensation: pick-up artists (or PUAs, as they call themselves). The Eaton Centre, a popular hub for many PUA meet-ups and training sessions, had to issue warnings and announcements to shoppers via Twitter to reassure the importance of their safety.
Up until now, this creepy subculture has been largely written off as a harmless avenue to help shy young men find the confidence to finally land the girl. But in reality, these followings have spawned groups of misinformed, offensive and (potentially) dangerous individuals that walk among us.
The most recent to join the club is Toronto YouTuber Xsouldeath (whose channel has recently been de-activated). He released a series of wildly disturbing YouTube videos documenting his disdain for the women who turned down his attempted sexual advances through that charmingly romantic technique – the catcall. However, after a particular girl threw a #ByeFelicia look in his face, he posted a video.
“She deserves to f**kin’ like stabbed and cut up into tiny pieces for that s**t. Like, I would f**king take her and her boyfriend and all her f**king friends down. F**king worthless pieces of s**t. She thinks she’s all that, just because she has the looks and s**t. I’ll show all these little bitches one day.”
Um, red flag?
In the next video, Xsouldeath seems to try and purchase a knife from the grocery store. This week on Reddit his videos were circulated and began to cause a virtual outcry, which caused Toronto Police to investigate. As of now there’s nothing to charge the YouTuber for, but Toronto Detective Shawn Marshall reported that he has been reviewing the videos and is hoping to identify the man and speak with him.
For more on this utterly creepy pick-up culture, meet Junaid, the head organizer of Tdot Pickup – the PUA organization Xsouldeath was part of. He hosts training sessions for the low price of $5 in the Toronto Eaton Centre, where desperate men can “set your doubts aside for a session filled with a fast paced, adrenaline-pumping approach.” To be successful, Junaid insists you must enter “BEAST MODE” in order to “target every approachable set in the vicinity.”
Alright, let’s take a step back here. In one ad, this man has referred to women as “targets,” suggesting that to successfully approach a woman, you must activate this Hulk-esque version of “BEAST MODE” (caps lock extremely relevant), and that you can target any lady with a pulse. Has this actually ever worked?
Junaid even attempted to rationalize Xsouldeath’s malicious comments, saying: “This whole thing about getting them back, all he was talking about is basically getting them back by getting a really good-looking girl and rubbing it in their face.” He later added, “He made a big mistake in posting it to the public. When you have negative thoughts, keep them to yourself and all that, right?”
Yeah, Junaid, that sounds real healthy. Let’s advise everyone with violent thoughts to bottle it up until it inevitably bubbles over.
And yet, men follow this skewed framework in order to prove themselves the true Alpha Male. But when does it switch from laughable to life threatening?
If Xsouldeath’s words against the woman made you cringe, you’re not alone – they’re not something to shrug off, so hats off to the authorities for taking this case seriously. In fact, the patterns of this vlogger are not unlike Elliot Roger, the mass murderer who was responsible for the attacks in Isla Vista, California last year. Both men released a series of videos detailing this contempt for the women who rejected them. Both men discussed women in graphic, violent ways and vowed that they would pay for their actions.
But the real uneasy feeling we get stems from the fact that these men felt entitled to the women – like sex was owed to them – when the fact is, no one is ever owed sex. It doesn’t matter if you’re overbearing, nice, attractive or manipulative. And it definitely shouldn’t matter that you’re a man.
The reason men like Xsouldeath and the rest of these PUAs exist is because we created them. From an early age, we teach boys that they should suppress their emotions. We teach them that the only way to get a woman to sleep with you is to play on her (supposed) insecurities and “trick” her with one of these cleverly learned pick-up lines. We teach them that objectifying women by catcalling is actually a compliment, because the greatest compliment a girl can get is a man’s approval, right? We teach them that violence and aggression is just a natural part of masculinity; boys will be boys after all, right?
Nope, sorry. Not right. And if you’re still not convinced that this entitled mindset is dangerous, last year at a high school in Connecticut, a 16-year-old boy stabbed his female classmate to death. The reason? She turned him down for a prom date.
The results aren’t always as extreme, though. A 2014 study by the non-profit organization Hollaback! revealed that 85% of women in the U.S. will experience street harassment by the age of 17. Another showed that 77% of women have claimed a man on the street made them fear for the safety at least once within the last year.
So the next time you hear one of your male counterparts hollering at that girl on the street just trying to go about her day, tell him to check himself before he wrecks himself. Or worse, someone else.
Until then, Detective Marshal is urging people who have reason to believe someone is violent to contact the police. Even if they can’t press charges, they can dispatch a mobile crisis team to help the individual.
Have you been targeted by a pick-up artist? Share your story below or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.