A Thought on ''Girls on YouTube''

Friday 1 March 2013

For any of you who watch a lot of YouTube videos, I'm sure you can see where this post is going! I actually filmed a video response about an hour ago but my camera holding skills failed me and it was a little on the shaky side, so I thought I'd come over here and write a blog post instead.


*DISCLAIMER - I like Becoming YouTube, I am not attacking Ben Cook or anyone interviewed in the series and I think the topic of this video is really important. No witch hunt here, just to be clear from the start!*

There has been a huge reaction to the latest Becoming YouTube episode (Girls on YouTube), and I have watched I don't know how many video responses on the matter today. The video aims to figure out why girls aren't more popular on YouTube, but sort of shoots itself in the foot several times by making pretty wide generalisations, and causing many female viewers to feel irritated by the vague and at times poorly worded responses of the (mostly male) YouTubers who are interviewed. I don't have a problem with that in itself - Ben Cook, the creator of Being YouTube actually makes a point of saying:

''In choosing who to interview for this series, I had to make a judgement call - do I reflect the YouTube community as it is in 2013, with it's glaringly obvious and rather sad imbalance between men and women, or do I aim for more of a fifty fifty split, but in so doing end up featuring some female YouTubers primarily because they're female... and that would have been lame.''

This is totally true if it wasn't for the fact that the type of YouTubers he is interviewing are all very similar, and from a select YouTube community. Anyway, that wasn't the main thing that bothered me about the video.

Firstly, and it's a shame because it wasn't intentional, but the opening line set an uncomfortable tone for the entire video. It opens with Ben Cook asking the super YouTube famous Charlie McDonnell ''Why do you think more girls don't do YouTube?''... and then the whole video goes on to backtrack from this with every man and his dog saying 'we know girls do do YouTube, they just aren't very popular'. Okay, define popular? If your definition of popular is subscriber number then sure, that might be the case. But I watch A LOT of amazing female YouTubers who are extremely popular with their subscribers - Chelsea from Ophelia Dagger/OldHotRadio and Leena from JustKissMyFrog to name just two! These girls get tons of comments and likes, and create really interesting discussion and debate on their channels. They just don't have 700,000 subscribers. The main point of discussion is that girls perhaps don't have such easy access to an audience as boys, because obviously most teenage girls are fangirls. With 13-17yr old girls providing the bulk of the audience for the vlogging community on YouTube, there is an assumption made here that it's simply because young girls can't possibly contain themselves when they see a cute boy, so automatically hit the subscribe button. While in the case of some of the biggest One Direction and Justin Bieber fans out there this might be true, it's a bit of a generalisation, and again, I think this was just poorly worded in the video.

My main point of contention with this video, however, is the complete exclusion of beauty gurus... I honestly don't understand this. I think what they might have been trying to imply is that a lot of beauty and fashion YouTubers are already quite popular, so they don't need any promotion here, even though there are plenty relatively (or completely!) unknown beauty YouTubers too. But if that's the case, then why are we having this discussion at all? Why is it relevant to say ''Hmmm, there are a lot of popular male vloggers with a high subscriber number, but not a lot of females... let's discuss.'', but beauty and fashion gurus, who put just as much time and effort into filming and editing their videos as vloggers do don't need to be included? I know it's a stereotypical thing that very few people will ask ''Why don't more men film beauty videos on YouTube - discuss.'', but there ARE men in the YouTube beauty community, and really popular men too! Look at Petrilude with over 350,000 subscribers, and Wayne Goss from gossmakeupartist with almost 700,000!!! Not forgetting the success Jim Chapman is having with his male grooming and male style videos, on his own channel and on Daily Mix... there are both men and women in the beauty community, I know it's hardly an even split, but it's pretty insulting to these guys and all the talented women in these communities to imply that they don't count as YouTubers. That is not said explicitly at any point in the video, but the way they are instantly dismissed suggests that that is has been the line of thought in the questions raised in the video. These gurus post videos about improving confidence, dealing with issues of self-image and lots of other important issues - it's not just about the makeup! I'm sure Michelle Phan, who built an entire business empire from her YouTube beauty channel and is now a millionaire would have a couple of things to say about her type of video being deemed irrelevant to the discussion! The series is called Becoming YouTube afterall - not Becoming a Successful Vlogger/Comedy Skit Maker on YouTube (being funny and the idea that men 'traditionally need to be funny when women don't' was focused on a lot).

I'm not trying to have a go at Ben Cook and co. here. The fact is that, as the lovely Chelsea from OldHotRadio/OpheliaDagger points out in her brilliant, light hearted and sarcastic response to this video and the response it elicited in the YouTube community - which was taken a tad too seriously by some people particularly close to the original video - there is a lot of room for misinterpretation in this online environment. From the wording of a vlog to the tone of a comment, it's easy to misunderstand what someone is trying to say. I just felt that this video really could have been a little more careful about how it presented its argument. It had an opportunity to promote really good female YouTubers, maybe talk to a few lesser known women from various areas of the YouTube community and get more of a feel for what's really going on out there. The fact that it relied on the opinions of a group of successful male vloggers and a couple of recently successful women (with the exclusion of Lex, Carrie and Hazel, who have all been interviewed in previous episodes) felt just a little patronising, and I felt like it didn't really ever get to the root of the issue - the already ''popular'' YouTubers just took a few stabs in the dark as to why this might be the case. There are so many communities out there - beauty and fashion, booktubers, gaming YouTubers, vloggers, the list is endless. Couldn't we have asked some of them, some with less than 100,000 subscribers each what they think is going on? I don't know.

I love the idea of Becoming YouTube. I think it's really well put together, I have really enjoyed previous episodes and you can tell how much work has gone into it. I just wonder if perhaps an issue as contentious as a gender debate could have been handled with a little more care - it's a brilliant topic, and has clearly caused lots of debate which I think is great. I just think it had the opportunity to achieve more.


The original video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsRHDdHsFo8
Chelsea's response - http://www.youtube.com/user/OldHotRadio
Leena's channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/jsutkissmyfrog

Thanks for reading guys! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. This is all of my thoughts on the episode in one post.
    Thank you!

    I also don't think they really take into account the amount of youtuber who are from places outside of the UK. Of course they out across some good points in the videos and they are also entertaining but I find some of the generalisations fairly hasty.
    My first thought was "they need a bigger corpus of people to show real results!" But I think that's partly down to my current university work :P

    I ador the group of people they focus on but I think they're missing out a lot of important facts about other communities. Xx

    1. I was thinking that too! It's very British-centric, with the exception of Hank Green. I think the intentions were good and it's definitely a topic worth discussing, I just feel like it could have had a better title and maybe made more of a point of saying ''We are only referring to this TYPE of YouTuber''! xx

  2. Nice to see a different post for a change - I like the angle your writing from :)

    Be great if you could check out my latest post: Enrapture Amplify Jumbo Waver Review

    I am also running my 1st blog giveaway here where you could win MAC, Jewellery plus other goodies.

    Thanks! Charlie xx LurchHoundLoves.com | UK Fashion Blog

    1. Thanks lovely, I'll definitely check it out :) xx