YouTube controversy sparks global discussion surrounding male sexual harassment

On May 10, makeup enthusiast Tati Westbrook released a video on her YouTube channel containing serious allegations about another popular guru who has gained a significant following this past year, James Charles. And in what fans of the drama once acknowledged as “canceling” these online figures, millions have now started taking a closer look at one very important aspect of the case that is often misunderstood: male sexual harassment.  

While the online feud has produced accusations still not known to be warranted or unwarranted, still the uploads by the two influencers highlights an issue that does not receive nearly as much attention as its female-related counterpart. According to research by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, 10 to 20 percent of males will face some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. However, a much smaller portion of those men will even treat their encounters as such, as in reporting them, they may feel vulnerable, incapable, and essentially “unmasculine.”

In fact, many still doubt the nature of sexual harassment in men, claiming that such does not exist. But obvious and not, examples of unwanted coercion occur more often than one might expect in even the workplace, and include anything from unwelcome touching to sending sexually explicit pictures over text. Despite some hesitancy to report, 1 in 5 men actually do account for those who file complaints to the EEOC of harassment in the workplace alone, as cited by the Washington Post- but still, not enough is being done to grant victims the security they deserve. 

When cases involving women harassing men arise, it can be difficult to determine how to handle the situation. Reluctance to confront women in fear that it might evoke their sensitivities often concerns those responsible for addressing complaints in the workplace- especially male executives. But in Charles’ case, the beauty community took up the deed.

The YouTube controversy, while it did communicate the general nature of male sexual harassment, also spoke to instances wherein peoples’ sexual orientations are manipulated. Although Westbrook’s claims regarding Charles’ behavior are inconclusive, fans took to social media immediately following her first upload to demonstrate their high disregard for Charles’ so-called “inappropriate and predatory” advances toward men. After days of record-breaking losses to his YouTube channel following, viewers are now responding rather positively to James’ second upload concerning the allegations and resubscribing to his channel. Yet still, discussions via Twitter and Instagram are seeking to recognize the many misconceptions of sexual manipulation and harassment rooted in the larger issue.

When men who have assumed top positions as celebrities or executives, those who identify as heterosexual, and the many women who have committed acts of harassment toward males use such to shut down the allegations they face, victims of assault do not receive the justice and recognition they deserve- something that they as well as women are yet still working toward getting. By validating those caught in issues like these, we can help prevent further harassment that today utmost of 94% of victims never report.