Feel free to send questions to my ask box! <3
No, I’ll be at PAX Prime here in Seattle!
VidCon’s agenda went live recently, and I found myself curious about the degree of equal gender* representation – of the conference generally, but especially of the panels. Panels are a platform, literally, given to people perceived as legitimate and qualified to give advice; they’re a quick measure of whose opinions we value on what topics. And the representation of women on these panels is horrifyingly low.
As with everything related to media, representation matters. The lack of women on these panels both reflects and perpetrates a refusal to acknowledge the validity of women’s voices, experiences, and expertise. This is especially dangerous given the statistically young and female demographic who’ll be watching these panels at VidCon. VidCon could be an opportunity to catalyze a shift towards valuing everyone instead of, overwhelmingly, cis white men… But if the People In Charge ever DO decide to live up to that moral obligation, they certainly won’t be doing so at this year’s conference.
Below is a full list of which panels fit into the categories detailed in the above charts. If you don’t feel like reading that entire list, here are a few “highlights”:
- Of the 4 all-women panels, all 4 of them are heavily gendered: “Beauty Bloggers”; “Women on YouTube”; “Starting A Beauty Channel”; “A Focus on Beauty”
- Of five panelists, there are 0 women on the “Online Gaming Strategies” panel
- Of eight panelists, there are 0 women on the “Faceless Channels” panel
- Of seven panelists, there is 1 woman on the “YouTube and Your Music Career” panel
- Of eight panelists, there is 1 woman on the “Writing Comedy for YouTube” panel
* a similar report on the representation of POC on VidCon panels will be coming shortly. Spoiler alert: it’s even worse than this one.
FULL LIST OF PANELS**:
I participated on 4 panels/discussions this year: “Women on YouTube,” “Education + Entertainment: Is it possible?,” “Sexism on YouTube,” and The Brain Scoop Q&A.
There is a lot that can be changed and improved about the makeup of the panels at a convention as large and far-reaching as VidCon. I understand scheduling is a complicated process, but having the “Women on YouTube” panel occur at the same time as “The Future of Online Video” left a bitter taste in my mouth. While I’m proud to sit on a panel with some of my personal heroes and friends on “Education + Entertainment,” I can’t help but feel a sense of awkwardness at being the only woman up there. My opinions do not represent the entirety of women educators in online video.
We also run into a frustrating problem with feeling as though we’re preaching to the choir on the “Sexism” and “Women on YT” panels - while those may arguably some of the most important discussions occurring during the convention, we’re not attracting audiences that otherwise wouldn’t be inspired to attend. When I went to ScienceOnline the first 4 hours of the conference was devoted to issues of gender and race representation inequality - so if you didn’t go to any panels you were actively choosing not to participate in the first quarter of the conference. I’m not suggesting we force people to go to a panel they don’t want to - but structuring the timing of these discussions in such a way sends an encouraging message of support from the convention organizers. It is powerful.
Next year, it’d be great to see “Women on YouTube” on the mainstage. I would love to have a few men participate in the discussion. Let’s not see the ‘Future of Online Video’ represented solely by men. When you ask how you can help women reach a more equal platform, the answer is that you speak up, and you participate. We need your voices.
It’s my dream so see Women on YouTube on the mainstage. This post is so important and so interesting, and I had a lot of trouble with the overlapping of important panels at VidCon 2014 as well. I understand that VidCon is a huge convention and scheduling is tricky the way it is, but with what’s been going on in our community lately, I would have loved to see a bit more support behind talking about safety, abuse and other relevant issues on the main stage. Many of the people who could use these types of panels the most are not the ones who would voluntarily elect to attend them.
Shirt and cardigan were from Goodwill, and the necklace I found on etsy!
In March of this year I threw a grenade into the Nerdfighter/YouTube community. As difficult as the aftermath has been, I’m proud of myself and of my friends for speaking up and I’m thankful to all of you have been standing with me and supporting me through this. I would truly be lost without you guys.The reason I’m rehashing all of this is because I’ve seen a great number of posts wondering why the discussion of Internet-related sexual abuse / fan-creator power dynamics has dwindled off. I’ve noticed it too! There was a lot of productive discourse happening immediately following the accusations, but not so much now. I guess that first thing I want to say is that many of the accused male YouTubers are planning, consciously or subconsciously, to make comebacks when the social climate feels safe enough to do so. How do we prevent this from happening? Continue talking about it. Let them know we have not forgotten.I’d like to give an update on a few of these dudes so that we’re all aware of where things currently stand. I’ll start with my own personal situation.First, I’d like to tell you all something that I didn’t mention in my first post about Alex. When the Tom Milsom news broke, I immediately thought of Alex and began to feel guilty for not having said anything about my experiences with him up to that point (feelings that would lead me to writing my initial post).The day I read about Tom Milsom, I texted Alex. I asked him if he was nervous about being accused of similar things - he said no. Don’t believe me? Here’s screencaps of the conversation, including some additional fucked up comments he made about sexual assault / rape. I want it to be known that Alex didn’t think anything he’d done was wrong until we spoke up about it. He only ever apologized to me after my initial post.
Since March, Alex hasn’t been active online other than liking posts on Facebook and favoriting tweets. This is the best possible scenario in my mind. He shouldn’t come back to YouTube. His presence is a trigger to anyone who’s had a similar experience and to make himself present on the very same platform he used to manipulate many, many girls would be self-serving and detrimental to a lot of people. Although he hasn’t been present online, he’s been reaching out to many of his victims via text, asking them to talk and apologizing to them. I hope everyone sees how invasive it is for him to do that. If I were to text Alex (which I have), THEN it would be appropriate for him to respond and initiate conversation. To inject yourself into the life of someone you assaulted (or worse) is inappropriate, inconsiderate, and harmful.Unfortunately, many of the other accused YouTubers are doing worse things. Ed Plant has been very active on YouTube. He posted an apology song awhile back and another video just today. Again, I want to emphasize how inappropriate it is for these men to return to a platform they abused. A comeback on YouTube is selfish. It helps no one but the abuser. No matter how many fans continue to blindly follow them and beg them to make videos again, their wants will never surmount the absolutely necessary need (for the victims’ sake) for these men to stay off YouTube…forever.Alex Day has been pretty quiet…except on Reddit. Alex has been posting frequently about false accusations and how people don’t know “his side of the story”, even though he wrote a post admitting fault. His comments are extremely manipulative. He’s said, “I found three (posts) where people said they felt manipulated into sexual things” and “But unfortunately, when people see ‘there have been fifteen accounts’, they don’t bother reading them.” Basically, he’s not denying the fact that he sexually manipulated at least three people, but at least it wasn’t 15 people! Right?? No, not right, Alex. Then, he said that he only ever wrote the admission of fault post to see if it would calm everyone down. So, he says he’s lying, but would like us all to believe he isn’t lying now. Frankly, this whole “you need both sides of the story” nonsense is…nonsense. It’s absurd to think we don’t know enough when, yes - three people say they’ve been sexually abused, 13 or so other girls say he was (at least) inappropriate with them, and even his very best friend is unable to take his side on this.Let’s move on to Luke Conard, who I probably have the most personal experience with after Alex C.. Luke’s been mostly quiet since he was outed as a manipulative, cheating asshole (except for that early tweet where he said he would “be back soon!”). Recently he’s begun posting on Twitter and Instagram. The worrisome thing about Luke is that his fans want him back badly. A return to YouTube is not only probable, but also likely to go off without a hitch. Unless, maybe, we keep talking about this. The scary thing about Luke (as opposed to these other men) is that he’s, without a doubt, a sociopath. I’m saying this as someone who spent a great deal of time with Luke in his home, at conventions, and on tour - not to mention I’m very close to the women he’s been a dick to. Luke has no remorse for the pain he’s caused. He’s not sorry. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. And he literally does nothing that doesn’t directly benefit #1 (himself).A prime example of this is the fact that he bought a puppy to sway people into feeling kindly about him. I know this sounds like a leap of my imagination, but I can’t stress to you how classically Luke it is for him to have bought a puppy for the sole purpose of getting his fanbase to accept him. Notice how the only posts he’s made since March have been about him being in the hospital and about his new puppy? He is out for sympathy and he is receiving it. Meanwhile, he’s deleting negative posts about him on all platforms, blocking people, and even threatening those who are too outspoken. How much guiltier can you get?
So many of you will send me disgusting anonymous messages, tell me I’m out for attention, tell me I’m making something out of nothing, or maybe even tell me that these men are “just trying to live their lives” or that you STILL “don’t know the full story”. Honestly, I don’t have time for you anymore. I hope you know you are slowing down necessary change and your support towards these men is a detriment to many people’s well being. This conversation needs to continue. We really can’t let these men get away with it and continue living the lives they had before. They have to move on and not be present in places where their victims will see them. Keep talking.
I am so indebted to Sarah for being able to talk so openly about this stuff when I am, even months later (years, really) still afraid Luke might retaliate at me in some way if I make an outward effort to continue the discussion.
But we must continue the discussion - for ourselves, for the others out there that need our support, and to keep these toxic people away from our community.
This isn’t “over”. We aren’t “past the drama”. This is an ongoing issue we need to talk about and educate people on. We can’t let this happen again. We can’t let them continue to profit off a community they took advantage of. As Sarah said, please keep talking. Please keep reading. Please keep fighting to keep YouTube (and yourselves and the Internet and the world) a little bit safer.
Love getting to spend time with old school YouTube buddies and make new friends at the same time! #vloggerfair @booshoe37 @michaelindsay89