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I strongly doubt it, but I’m skipping ahead a little.

Several Ottawa women are warning others to be on the lookout for a self-proclaimed “pickup artist” who talks up women on the street and tries to get their phone numbers — all while wearing a hidden camera to record videos he later posts online.

“I was walking down the street, and this man approached me and started asking these personal, sort of strange questions,” said Samantha DeLenardo, one of the women filmed by a man she now believes to be Luke Howard, who runs a YouTube channel called “Lukeutopia.”

“By the third question, I was like, I have to go back to work,” DeLenardo said. “I was really disturbed by it all day.”

Told you. I have no problem with passively having people approach you, but when you actively engage someone in public you’d better have a good reason for doing so. Howard’s reason?

“Ninety nine point nine per cent of women love this, they enjoy it, they realize there’s a beauty in this,” Howard told CBC News, adding he doesn’t believe his actions are unethical.

“My goal was always to show guys that it’s not scary to talk to women in the daytime – they’re not going to bite your head off,” Howard said.

Ah, so he’s using these women’s time and visage to sell a product (even if he’s not collecting advertising revenue, he’s still trying to build a reputation for himself). He’s neither crediting these women nor compensating them. He’s not even letting them have a say in the final product. Implicitly, he values the men he’s reaching out to than the women he’s using as an are extension.

Also, protip: if you invoke “but it’s not illegal!” to defend your actions, thoso actions are almost certainly unethical. Fortunately, local women are using this as a teachable moment.

Maya Shoucair, a woman who says she has been confronted by Howard on the street, said she hosted an informal meeting with about a dozen concerned women at her house on Sunday to discuss how to proceed.

“This is what it looks like when Ottawa women have had enough,” said Shoucair, referring to the social media uproar. “We just want to feel safe in our streets.” […]

Shoucair said #corneredinottawa is more than just a discussion about Howard – it’s a platform for women to feel less alone when they experience street harassment.

“We just want to offer resources, support, and really get the conversation going around it,” said Shoucair.

Damn straight. I view street harassment as a form of gendered terrorism, keeping roughly half of us in a perpetual state of public unease.

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