Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DearAuthor, YouTube Sexual Abuse and Rape Culture

Dear Author, a popular book blog, posted an article titled Use and Abuse of Girls that talks about YouTube, and the growing popularity of VidCon, as well as Youtube Sexual Abuse scandal. It draws some interesting parallels to Women’s fiction and talks about the impact on young girls.

Personally, I’ve been wanting to see an article like this for awhile, especially considering how John Green, the "savior of YA," is closely tied to several of the accused sexual abusers. 

However, what could have been a thoughtful and informative post is ruined by the use of a quote from Alex Day, one of the admitted abusers, who points out “the inherent problems in these face-to-face events” like VidCon. I will not copy his quote here, he doesn’t deserve the attention and is last person to be treated as a trusted opinion on this subject.

Why not ask a rapist why rape happens? He'll of course tell you it's the fault of women, tight clothing and a million other things, none of which are the true answer. Plus doing so lends credibility to his opinions, while ignoring how that is a slap in the face to his victims. 

An abuser can only show us how they are able to abuse and not take responsibility for it. Which Day demonstrates succinctly by placing fans as the ones at fault for making themselves vulnerable to abuse by being fans in the first place. In other words, he blames the victims. 

Yes, these events and the inherent power imbalance between fans and celebrities creates an environment where abuse can occur, but it is the active choice of an abuser to use their power and influence as a celebrity to manipulate and abuse their fans. Being a celebrity doesn't magically turn a good person into an abuser, but it can give a sexual predator easy access to their victims and shield them from taking responsibility for their actions. 

I tweeted @DearAuthor to point out this oversight, and I got a surprising and disappointing response.

"Quoting one of those who abused the system doesn't make him sympathetic."
Actually, it does when he is the only voice in the conversation. It gives his word, and by extension him, a platform to be viewed as a valued opinion on the subject and allows him to spread misinformation, further distorting our understanding of how and why abuse really happens.

The way that @DearAuthor phrases their response by saying he "abused the system" is very telling. It erase and ignores the fact that he in fact abused human beings. Real women who are being cut-out of a personally relevant conversation.

Why choose to quote an abuser at all?

Why not seek quotes from two women, Lindsey Williams aka PotterMoosh and Lex aka Lexcanroar, who are notable YouTubers in their own right and have spoken publicly about their abusive experiences with Day. 

The choice to quote an abuser verse his victims sends a very clear message about who has the more valued opinion.


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