Earlier last month, a famous YouTube star, Sam Pepper, decided he would start a social experiment. He created a prank video in which he pinched female pedestrians’ bottoms. After receiving much criticism from the YouTube community, the video was taken down for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service. The next day, he uploaded a video in which he performed the same prank on males. Again, that video was taken down as well. After receiving much criticism from viewers, Sam Pepper released a video stating that these pranks were performed to shed light on the problem of the lack of support for male victims of sexual assault. In a third video, Pepper reveals his motive for creating these videos. He states that, “We are raised to believe that only men are the culprits of domestic abuse. That’s not true.” Shortly after, the video was removed. After many YouTube stars publicly expressed their disapproval of this, Sam Pepper’s approval ratings went down. News media outlets picked up the story. Pepper was dropped from YouTube conventions and lost corporate sponsors as well as the YouTube partner program. Although there is a great possibility that Pepper used this problem of male victims of domestic abuse to cover up his horrendous violations against human beings, he does make a point. In Sex and Power, Kristan Barber states, “Men are believed to be uncontrollably aggressive and sexual. Society therefore has a tendency to understand rape as a natural consequence of men’s uncontrollable sexual desire and natural tendency toward violence” (47). Rape is clearly a serious issue. And rape culture is also another large issue. However, certain aspects of those fighting against rape culture sometimes forget that men, too, can be victims of sexual violence.
So, how can we address this flaw in rape culture? Sam Pepper wouldn’t be able to tell you the answer to that. But also, was he really trying to bring the public’s attention to this issue? Or was he simply trying to cover up a grave mistake he had made?