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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