You’ve probably seen, or at least heard about the latest internet drama. Sam Pepper (previous Big Brother contestant who has – to his credit – managed to create a successful YouTube career from his fifteen minutes of fame) uploaded a ‘prank’ video wherein he asked unsuspecting women for directions, then, when they were looking in the opposite direction he pinched their derrières.
Let’s look at the definition of ‘prank’ shall we…
Well actually, his video does fit the latter definition ‘malicious nature’… wearing an oversized hoodie and concealing his real arm so that he can pinch the poor passer-by’s bums is the ‘trick’; it’s simply not the ‘amusing’ prank we all tend to think of.
Whilst I’ve got the dictionary tab open let’s look at another definition, shall we?
Oh would you look at that … “social situation … unwanted sexual advances”. There’s no disputing that pinching somebody’s bum is an invasion of their personal space. Doing that anywhere, to anyone you don’t know is unprecedented and disgusting. But to then film yourself doing that, and upload it to YouTube? That’s even worse. The women in Sam’s video (as far as I’m aware) were not approached beforehand, and asked if they would like their subsequent humiliation to be uploaded to the internet. Their space has been violated, as well as their privacy.
I’m not altogether sure what Sam Pepper was trying to achieve – he surely didn’t think his ‘prank’ fell into the definition as ‘amusing’, did he? Or does he find the perpetuation of entitlement to women’s bodies amusing? Does he think women simply exist for his banal amusements? That we don’t feel nervous walking down a street on our own, that we don’t think about what obscene remarks some men might make as we walk with our girlfriends through town?
Sam clearly did a double take when he saw the outraged respondents to his video. Instead of apologising, recognising that he had indulged in an act that makes the situation altogether worse for women, he uploaded another video… one he says is “2/3”. In this video Sam has simply enlisted a female friend (although how this girl can actually bear to spend time with him is beyond my comprehension) to do exactly the same thing as he did initially. She pinches guys’ butts after asking them where the Apple store is. One of the molested individuals straight up says it like it is “That’s not okay” – too right it isn’t. Didn’t Sam’s Mum ever tell him “two wrongs don’t make a right”?
Seeing the same thing from a female perspective only highlights that it’s ‘not okay’ to grope strangers. That’s the bottom line. Whether it’s for a ‘prank’ or not, your behaviour is classed as sexual harassment which is obviously an incredibly serious issue – and indeed, a crime.
I’m hoping that Sam Pepper’s third video won’t be another hands-on one, but I don’t have much faith. If the YouTube star chooses instead to sit and face a camera and talk about how neither instance of behaviour were okay then he may just redeem himself a smidge. But it doesn’t change the fact that what’s done is done – those girls and guys’ shame is eternalised on the internet. Deleting the video won’t change the humiliation these people will undoubtedly feel upon realising they’re all everyone is talking about. It shouldn’t have been done in the first place and Sam owes anyone affected by these videos a huge apology.