Okay, I did a blog a few months ago about the whole ‘youtube sex abuse scandal’ thing, in which I basically said that although I didn’t think that the whole thing should be “swept under the rug” I also didn’t think we should be too quick to jump on a bandwagon and start lynching the accused YouTubers, or whatever.
Now, I do stand by what I said, in that we’re all human and we all make mistakes, the important thing is to learn from them and grow and hopefully move on… to, become better people and we should all be given that chance.
I think the subject of sexual abuse is something I want to talk a little more about. Just so… I know I’ve said it.
Once again the YouTube community has been thrown into the the media spotlight for, shall we say, inappropriate sexual behaviour; this time it was Sam Pepper who drew outside attention to one of his “prank video’s”. Now I literally don’t know a thing about Sam Pepper. He once featured in a video with a YouTuber that I like and follow, but his slightly cocky persona and over-usage of bad language put me off him, so I never really took the time to watch his stuff or, as it were, ‘get to know him’.
However, I gathered from my past few days research into him that he’s generally not known to be a ‘nice’ person, he’s ‘famous’ mainly thanks to his appearance on Big Brother several years ago (that should give us some insight into his personality) and that his YouTube video’s mainly feature him pulling ‘pranks’ and not much else.
(As a side-note can I just say: y’know how they say that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, well in my opinion, pranking is the lowest form of comedy.)
Last week (or maybe it was the week before?) he released another such ‘pranking’ video in which he basically, using a hoodie, a fake hand and the art of ‘clever’ (ie. not really clever, but effective) distraction, pinched womens bums from behind without their knowledge, consent or approval.
The backlash against this video was immediate and strong, with many commenters and other YouTubers correctly expressing their discomfort and anger at the content. Perhaps, not expecting such such a negative reaction Sam then went on to release another similar video showing women pinching mens bums, and a third video to say that the whole thing had been part of a ‘social experiment’ to show how harassment is a two-way street and he’d wanted to compare the reactions of the first video to the reactions to the second.
Now, maybe that’s true, or maybe he was just trying to cover his tracks (I strongly suspect the latter) but whatever, it’s actually the comments from Sam’s (primarily female!!!) audience that shocked and slightly concerned me.
Not the negative comments. No, no I expect and endorse negative comments for that type of film, no it was the comments like “oh, lighten up, he was just having a laugh” or “it’s all just for fun” or, most shocking of all “wish it was my butt he was touching”.
First of all this suggests that there are people in society who view sexual harassment as being acceptable as long as it’s carried out for the sake of humour. (What?! Erm, no!) And second of all, let me just reiterate this: his audience is primarily female teenagers!
Is this really the type of behaviour we want teenage girls (or boys) to accept and welcome? No!!! So the question is, why do they accept it?
The reason is two-fold, simply, predictably, the first is media-influence: the media holds great authority nowadays, size 0 models promote the ‘ideal’ weight from the front of magazines and billboards, televised advertisements show beautiful-looking women/men as a hook to sell their goods, and television programmes in general show romance to be synonymous with both sex and sex appeal.
In a world so dominated by sexual imagery, is it so surprising that peoples opinions of self worth is almost completely defined by their sex appeal to others. Therefore, if a complete stranger finds you attractive enough to pinch/swat your bum that must be a good thing? Yes? No?
The obvious answer is no, but that’s not what the media teaches, is it…
The second is down to education. I don’t mean to be patronising when I say that when you’re in your mid-twenties + you’re much more likely to protest if someone touches you in a way that you don’t like, as a few of the women in Sam’s video did. However, when you’re in your teens-to-early-twenties (as are most of his audience) you’re more likely to just giggle in embarrassment and move away. Which is exactly what a number of the girls who Sam… molested (lets call a spade a spade, here, what he did was molestation) did.
In schools children and teenagers are taught, between the ages of about 11 and 16, what the mechanics of sex are, what things are available, ie. condoms, etc. I don’t want to minimise the importance of those classes at all, because at the start (ie. at the ages of 11, 12, 13) everyone was interested in what was being taught, because nobody had had sex yet. But by the age of 16, I remember being in a classroom rolling condoms onto prosthetic penises and thinking the whole thing was rather pointless because nearly everyone in the class had already had sex.
At that time I felt that what should have been discussed was what actually constitutes as consent? What is harassment? What effects can crossing these boundaries have? And not just on the offender, but also on the person he/she violates. A straight-talking class which would be a mix of psychology, sociology and philosophy (I suppose) furthermore, a lesson such as that would have been a lot more useful at that time and could’ve saved quite a few school distresses over the coming years.
Whether a lesson like that will ever come to fruition, I don’t know. Perhaps it already has? In the meantime I think we all have a personal responsibility to analyse our daily behaviour and make sure that we don’t engage in behaviours which could make others feel uncomfortable, and maybe just check that we know what actually classifies as sexual harassment, just in case. I don’t mean in a P/C crazy kind of way, if you’ve got friends and you muck about in a risque kind of way, but your both okay with it… then go ahead. But make sure you’re both okay first.
Anyway that’s my thoughts on this matter, now check out a funny song about consent by Jack and Dean: