YouTube duo BriaAndChrissy have released a series of videos of lesbians and gay men touching one another intimately. Lee Williscroft-Ferris looks beyond the clickbait at the real issues this ‘trend’ raises.
The Internet is bursting at the virtual seams with all manner of ‘socially unacceptable’ content, from stomach-churning images of extreme cruelty to neo-fascist viral memes. Rarely, though, does one stumble across a ‘phenomenon’ so incredibly offensive, it literally has you viewing between your fingers.
Three weeks ago, YouTube channel BriaAndChrissy released a video entitled ‘Lesbians Touch Penis For The First Time!’. The title is fairly self-explanatory but to be absolutely clear, three women were filmed expressing their nervousness at the prospect of getting up-close-and-personal with a phallus. The man in question proceeds to whip his shirt off (‘Wait! Why are you taking your shirt off? Is that necessary?!’). The women then get their hands on the man’s member, expressing their surprise at its shape and texture, before declaring their reaffirmed homosexuality.
Rarely, though, does one stumble across a ‘phenomenon’ so incredibly offensive, it literally has you viewing between your fingers.
BriaAndChrissy – a ‘singing duo/lesbian couple’ – are no newcomers to this kind of ‘project’. Back in November, the pair released ‘Gay Men Touch Boobs For The First Time!’, complete with wholly expected shrieking in disgust (‘Oh my God! Argh! Ew! So Squishy!’).
However, the debate around this new brand of online ‘entertainment’ began in earnest two days ago with the emergence of ‘Gay Men Touch Vagina For The First Time!’. Yes, they went there. The Internet erupted in a storm of indignation at what has been widely condemned as ‘exploitative’, ‘voyeuristic’ and ‘misogynistic’.
We live in the ‘clickbait’ era; there has never been a better time for the unknown to make a name for themselves online. YouTube has literally launched careers and created millionaires. We should be under no illusion in this case that these videos are designed to create controversy, increase the channel’s viewing figures (these three videos alone have garnered almost 31 millions views between them) and enhance the profile of those behind their creation.
Some would argue that there is some educational value to BriaAndChrissy’s endeavours. They certainly seem to think so themselves, adding this comment beneath the video yesterday;
‘Men are allowed more sexual freedom than women. In our society, when a man has sex he’s “the man,” a woman has sex, she’s a slut. We expected a lot of backlash for this video, it will be interesting to see if this video gets the same attention as the “lesbians touch Penis” video since there are female genitals (and a topic about females as a whole) instead of a male genitals. What are your thoughts?’
Let’s be honest, this incoherent attempt at depicting these videos as some kind of contribution to the slut-shaming debate is transparently nonsensical. A gay man ‘sweating’ and squealing in horror at the sight of a vagina will in no way push forward socially progressive debate. The suggestion that the intention of those at the helm is to stimulate discussion around misogyny is laughable. This crass, exploitative, egotistical and potentially very dangerous venture serves only to perpetuate the kind of stubborn social dilemmas we should be working to eradicate.
We live in the ‘clickbait’ era; there has never been a better time for the unknown to make a name for themselves online.
The current discourse around misogyny and transmisogyny among cisgender gay men centres partly on their attitude towards the perceived ‘female’ body. Having witnessed many incidences of unsolicited intimate touching of women and trans people by gay men, I can testify to the extent of the problem. All too often, such behaviour is excused on the grounds that the man concerned ‘isn’t getting off on it’. Nonetheless, it sends out a worrying message about boundaries; to quote from the gay men/vagina video, ‘I don’t know you!’ Quite. One might well ask why the hell he proceeds to touch and prod a complete stranger’s most intimate area on camera. It reflects an unhealthy preoccupation with the very body parts so often the subject of such intense misogyny, transphobia, objectification and abuse. It promotes the idea that breasts, vaginas and penises are objects of curiosity, of novelty, to be dehumanised and detached from the human being for sport.
This reductive attitude towards genitalia is passively transphobic at best. Traditional social constructs of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are founded entirely on the association of gender with what you have between your legs. Given that trans people suffer the daily humiliation of the cisgender obsession with trans genitalia, anyone with a modicum of intersectional instinct can see the innate betrayal in cisgender lesbians and gay men appropriating sexual organs for voyeuristic reasons. The ‘gay men hate vaginas’/’lesbians hate penises’ argument is remissive and devoid of any acknowledgement of the diversity of gender and sexual identities.
This crass, exploitative, egotistical and potentially very dangerous venture serves only to perpetuate the kind of stubborn social dilemmas we should be working to eradicate.
The inherent irony at the rotten heart of these videos is this; the lesbians and gay men involved are perpetuating the kind of homophobia that continues to blight the lives of so many. The depiction of gay men as shrieking, vacuous scaredy-cats does nothing to dispel hideous stereotypes. The pantomime misogyny in the disgust expressed at the sight of a vagina or the mere prospect of contact with a breast may seem amusing. To those with less insight, it only serves to rationalise the unacceptable – and often lamentably unacknowledged – misogyny so prevalent among cisgender gay men. ‘I feel like I’m going to smell tuna’ – case closed.
Ultimately, these videos do no one any favours. While the creators struggle to portray their work as a form of social experiment, others are quick to dismiss the participants’ critics as ‘kill-joys’. There is a very real cruelty at the heart of this whole debacle; reducing human beings to objects, encouraging derision of another person’s body. This is neither educational nor responsible; it’s regressive and potentially incredibly damaging. No doubt BriaAndChrissy and co. will bask in the limelight of their short-lived viral ‘stardom’. Meanwhile, those millions of people all over the world for whom the objectification of the human body is a painful reminder of an all-too-personal struggle will wince, sigh and cry.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a good laugh. Where’s that video of the screaming goats?
Follow Lee on Twitter (@calamospondylus)