Jenna Marbles posted a video expressing her opinions about women who she referred to as “sluts.” In a response to this, popular vlogger Hayley Hoover explains how the video could negatively affect Jenna’s audience of primarily young women.
Watch Hayley explain how setting up a dichotomy between “sluts” and “regular girls” leads to rape, and the internalization of blame on the part of rape victims.
Click for the Transcript
This is a video response to Jenna Marbles’ most recent video “Things I Don’t Understand about Girls, Part 2: Slut Edition.” I’m gonna tell you upfront that I really strongly disagree with a lot of points in this video, and I think a lot of them are really dangerous and need to be addressed. But that being said, I am not writing off Jenna completely. I’ve supported her in the past and I feel like she’s done a lot of good for YouTube, and for girls and women, in particular. And so, this is just something I feel like that needs to be said. It’s not me attacking her.
Jenna, I think a lot of your video does fall under the category of “just your opinion.” You talk about how you prefer monogamous relationships and you don’t really understand promiscuous sex and it’s not for you and that’s totally fine. Your audience doesn’t have to agree with you. You are allowed to state what you want on your YouTube channel, not a problem.
That being said, a lot of the other points in your video kind of go out of the realm of just your opinion and start falling into the dangerous opinion category.
I know you didn’t sign a contract when you start posting videos promising to be a perfect, flawless role model to everyone, everywhere at all times. But the majority of your audience are young girls who look up to you, millions of people who hang on your every word and I really think you need to be more careful about some other things you say.
In this video, you portray “sluts” as women who, regardless of how they dress or present themselves, have a lot of sexual partners and have a lot of sexual activity of any kind. You go on to characterize these women as being illogical, irrational, having low self-esteem and low self-respect and for negatively competing with other women. You described regular girls such as yourself as being something different from these “sluts”.
The problem is when you described these “sluts” as an other that is something different from regular or normal people, you’re perpetuating the stereotype that women who had a lot of sex are not as worthy of respect as women who don’t. Good things happen to “regular girls,” and “sluts” get hurt.
By saying this, you’re keeping the stereotype alive that women who have a lot of sex are helpless and weak and stupid and wanton temptresses, and when women say that about other women, it supports that kind of thinking in men. And when men don’t see “sluts” as real people, as real of people as regular girls, then for some men that makes it okay for them–it helps them justify–hurting or disrespecting these women.
And that is how rape happens.
You go on in this video to encourage girls to protect each other, which is awesome, and totally in line with the rest of your videos and what we’ve come to expect from you. You say that if you see a girl who is black-out drunk, who is about to go home with some guy she doesn’t know, you should go up and talk to her and discourage her from doing that. Your exact quote was “help the sluts of the world make less bad slutty decisions.”
And I believe that you had honest and good intentions when you said this Jenna, but there are also a lot of problems with it.
When a woman is black-out drunk and doesn’t know where she is or what she’s doing, you’re not saving her from making a dumb decision, you’re saving her from being raped. Dumb decision implies that this was a two-way street here, that’s not how rape works. If a man had sex with a woman who is incapacitated, too drunk to know what she’s doing, unconscious, asleep or otherwise incapable of making a sober decision, that’s rape every single time. The sex that occurs in that situation is never a dumb decision made by a dumb “slut”, it’s rape.
Therein lies another issue separating regular girls from “sluts”. When we make the separation, we start to justify that if a regular girl is attacked in an alley, that’s rape, but if a slut goes home with someone, making a dumb decision, that’s her being stupid. The problem is that a majority of rape doesn’t come from a masked attacker, but these “sluts” hear words like yours and they internalize it, blame themselves for their assault and feel like if they had made better decisions, they wouldn’t have been raped.
That leads to people not reporting their assaults, leads to people not talking about their assaults and leads to people not understanding what assault is. Therefore, putting themselves in the position to have happened to them as well.
This is also a much, bigger problem than a lot of people realize. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one of out every six American women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That means that without a doubt, several, if not, many of the people watching your videos have already been raped or sexually assaulted.
Also, forty-four percent of rape victims are under eighteen and eighty percent are under thirty. That’s your demographic, Jenna. When you shame “sluts” for making stupid decisions, you’re shaming members of your audience who look up to you and hang on your every word for things that already happened to them that were not their fault.
In your video, you compared “sluts” or promiscuous women to animals who aren’t as highly-evolved or as capable of making rational decisions as monogamous people. And in doing so, you tell a large portion of your audience that the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to them was a result of them being stupid or animalistic.
There are a lot of elements to this video that I did not touch on and I’m happy to see that a lot of people are making video responses and leaving thought-provoking comments and all kinds of stuff. Let me reiterate that I have not lost all respect for Jenna Marbles. I think that she does a lot of good, as I’ve said. I think this was a really poorly-worded, bad decision of a video but I’m not completely throwing her under the bus.
Girls and women of YouTube, I just wanna let you know that there are people who have your back and who are thinking about you.
So that was my two cents. I know this is way different from the kinds of videos I usually post. So, thanks for sticking with me, back to the silly stuff soon.
P.S. I used “women” and “girls” in this video because in the United States, nine out of ten rapes and sexual assaults happen to women and girls. I did not mean to devalue or erase the issues of men or otherwise, identifying people who have these kinds of things happen to them. Also, equally important, I just wanted to stick within the context of Jenna’s video which is talking about girls and guys.
Based in Ohio, Hayley is a twenty-two-year-old writer, YouTuber, editor, and aspiring novelist. She started making video blogs on her channel hayleyghoover in early 2006, and has been creating content ever since. She now makes week-daily videos for gURL.com as part of a series called “What’s Up With Hayley,” and participates in a weekly advice channel on My Damn Channel called answerly. When not making videos, she enjoys running, eating, writing, and reading books about the family of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Follow her on Twitter @hayleyghoover!