Cultural Trends/Popular Culture

YouTube Star's Video Ignites 'Slut-Shaming' Reaction

Friday, December 21, 2012

Jenna Marbles' latest video on YouTube questions why women would expose themselves to the risks of one-night stands or multiple sex partners. Critics, including two other YouTube stars, quickly called out the artist for slut-shaming and victim-blaming.




Clip from Jenna Marbles' YouTube video /
Clip from Jenna Marbles' YouTube video "Things I Don't Understand About Girls Part 2: Slut Edition."

(WOMENSENEWS)-- This week, the media and blogosphere are buzzing over a "slut-shaming" video by a popular YouTube vlogger, or video blogger.

Last week Jenna Mourey, aka Jenna Marbles, posted her latest video  "Things I Don't Understand About Girls Part 2: Slut Edition," in which she questioned why women would have one-nights stands and multiple sex partners.

"Hooking up with a lot of dudes doesn't make you cool. Hooking up with one dude that you know and care about and have strong feelings for makes you cool . . . Like John Mayer said, 'your body is a wonderland' but you know what, it's your choice if you want wonderland to be an exclusive club . . . or if you want wonderland to be a theme park where kids get in free on Saturdays with a canned good," Marbles said in the video.

"The idea behind monogamy is that it is almost a state of higher evolution, anyone can be a slut, but it takes some logic and reasoning to say 'I think I am going to be with one person and not sleep with the world'," Marbles continued. "So girls, out there, please respect yourselves, respect your body and make good life decisions."

In a comment among the numerous reactions posted at the end of the video, one offended viewer wrote: "This is quite juvenile, grown women shouldn't go around calling other women sluts. It's absolutely no one else's business who you sleep with or how you dress but you. Self respect doesn't equal not being promiscuous, I respect myself as a woman to make my own choices and it's not your place to judge by your old fashioned ideas."

Another said, "Slut's do not give women a bad name. Women who call other women sluts give women a bad name."

Among the 82,000 people who posted favorable comments about the video, one wrote, "Everyone mad is a SLUTT."

Marbles is a YouTube icon, one of many who have gained a quick and massive following due to the vlogging phenomenon, where people post videos on their YouTube accounts daily or weekly for their followers. Her videos are generally comical, often satirizing pop culture and young-adult lives.

Other YouTube superstars Laci Green and Franchesca Ramsey joined the fray, leaping to the defense of women's freedom to express and enjoy their sexuality as they see fit. In her video, Ramsey called out the connection between stigmatizing women as sluts and blaming victims for sexual assault.

That continuum between slut-shaming and victim blaming--when a woman is told or herself believes that she was somehow "asking" to be raped or otherwise assaulted--was the sore point for many outraged fans.

"Don't blame women for being raped," one critic posted under the Marble's video. "Don't shame women for enjoying sex. You people are sick weirdos who are over obsessed with everyone else's sex lives. How sad."

In many rape and sexual assault trials factors such as how a victim was dressed, or what she had been drinking that day, have been used to exonerate perpetrators. That has lit activist fire to stamp out victim-blaming and relatedly, slut-shaming.

A keystone of this movement is the annual SlutWalk, which started in April 2011 after Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, advised that to protect themselves, "women should avoid dressing like sluts."

Across the globe men and women have joined together with "in-your-face" tactics to "fight the idea that what women wear, what they drink or how they behave can make them a target for rape," writes Jessica Valenti, author of "SlutWalks and the Future of Feminism," an opinion piece that appeared in The Washington Post in June 2011.

Valenti writes that the tactics of SlutWalks garner media attention and participant interest. "The protests have translated online enthusiasm into in-person action in a way that hasn't been done before in feminism on this scale," she writes.

One blogger, Melissa Fabello, for MissRepresentation, a social action campaign, recognized the importance of the media on these issues and took Marbles and her "Slut Edition" video to task for misusing the responsibility that comes with being idolized by so many people.

"Someone like Jenna who has such a large audience, [has] to be responsible in the production and sharing of media."

Maggie Freleng is an editorial assistant for Women's eNews; she lives in Brooklyn.

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