How Sexism Plays Out on YouTube

This is a piece I wrote in 2012, but couldn’t get the Daily Dot (and then ReadWrite) to run. I felt it was too important to not publish somewhere.

“I want to both have sex with her AND strangle her to death. But in which order…?”

That’s the disturbing question user menace8012 posted recently in the comment section of “I Gotta Feeling,” a Black Eyed Peas parody by YouTube star iJustine, originally uploaded in July of 2009.

The responses? A few joking replies chiming in. Not a single person objects or scolds the users. No one even clicks the “dislike” button on menace8012’s comment.

This gross comment is not atypical, but evident of a larger culture on YouTube, where sexist attitudes towards women run unchecked. It’s not just the trolls or haters in the comments section of videos; all YouTubers have been hating on women for gendered reasons since the site’s inception.

Menace8012’s comment, and the community’s response (or lack thereof), may seem extreme to the casual YouTube community safarian, but it also perfectly portrays why so few women have found success on YouTube. Many women on YouTube try to avoid this prevalent sexist culture by cloistering themselves in the beauty section, but that does little to combat the anti-women sentiments running rampant throughout the rest of the site.

YouTubers who silently upvote, or in this case “like,” menace8012’s comment are implying iJustine deserves the threats and derogatory comments she gets, daily, because of the way she looks and dresses. This is standard rape apologist & victim-blaming ideology. Sometimes, when the blonde, blue-eyed iJustine wears a tank top in her videos, that clothing choice sends both genders into a sexist frenzy.   Read the rest of this entry »

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When I was Late on September 11th

me with twin towers

Me at the Statue of Liberty trying to point at the plane flying over the WTC

The train had rocked most of us on this New Brunswick to Penn Station train to sleep but not me; My MP3 CD with 100+ songs burned from Napster had not yet lost its novelty. I was listening to the Cure as a good teen Catholic high school pseudo-goth when a man sitting by the window blurted out, “there’s a fire!”

We were about to go under the tunnel, still on the New Jersey side. When the buildings cleared again before we descended under the river the few people that had gathered peered out but the angle had changed, or the wind picked up. We didn’t see anything. “I saw smoke” said the man. “I really did.” We were unconvinced, and returned to our seats. I focused on the task at hand: filling out a yellow slip and forging the signature of my school’s lobby receptionist.

I was late, really late, and when you were late at my school, you had to check in at the front desk to collect a slip, which you then gave to your teacher. Once you collected three, you got detention. I was late a lot — my parents had moved out to New Brunswick for the birth of my step-brother and I was having trouble catching the 6:20 train every day to get to school on time– which is where the stolen packet of late slips came in. On September 11th, I was on the 8am so I was “missed first period” late.

Riding the 6 train and running the couple of blocks to my school felt odd but I attributed it to rush hour being over. A classmate let me in the side door and I bounded up the stairs, my teacher waving my late slip away not even bothering to sign it. Class was not in session, everyone was talking about the Twin Towers. That man on the train was telling the truth!!! My chemistry teacher burst into the room and ordered everyone into the basement. We were under attack. The Pentagon had just been hit. Read the rest of this entry »