Hannah Witton: Is It Harder Being A Woman On YouTube?
"Here’s to all the incredible women on YouTube!"
International Women's Day is a day about women (the name kinda gives it away), but isn’t just for women. It’s for everyone - so we can unite in being part of the solution of solving gender inequality. It’s a huge issue – and hugely important – and a topic that loads of people know a massive amount about, while lots others are just starting to understand.
So, to help us all get more informed, and able to kick-inequality-ass, we asked a selection of awesome women doing awesome things to share their thoughts on IWD and tell us what it means to them. Hannah Witton is a British YouTuber who talks about everything from sex and contraception to politics and travel, and she's got something to say about YouTube...
I am very lucky that I was born in 1992 and in the UK. It means that as an adult I can vote, buy my own house, get free contraception, I can marry and divorce who I want - all thanks to the feminists before me. It’s easy to think that gender equality is here, especially in the western world, but the remaining inequalities aren’t fixed with simply passing a law. It’s about ideas and cultural perceptions which is a lot harder to convince people of. Inequality now is much more sneaky.
I’m standing on the shoulders of giants but even then I still experience inequality and I mostly experience it in my industry. As a YouTuber, I upload videos to the internet talking about sex, relationships, feminism, travel, books - anything I want to talk about. And there are most definitely some obstacles to being a woman on YouTube. If you know anything about sexism in the entertainment industry; YouTube is just the same.
Out of the top 25 channels only six are women. Three are VEVO channels (Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry) leaving only two women in the top 25 list who you’d actually call ‘YouTubers’. And they’re both white.
There is absolutely not a lack of women on YouTube, its just a lot harder to get the same recognition, even more so if you’re black or Asian. Why is this so important? Well, the more subscribers/views you have, the more likely you are to be able to make a living out of YouTube and be visible to brands, networks and agencies.
From my personal experience (as a white, straight, cis, skinny woman) here’s why it’s harder being a woman on YouTube:
- sexually violent & mysoginistic comments focusing on your appearance not your content
- pressure to look good on camera because of negative comments if you decide to wear no makeup
- pressure/expectation that women ‘only make beauty/fashion videos’ and dismissal of those who do
- watching YouTubers gain success by making misogynist videos
And that’s just from my relative position of privilege.
But, I want to end this on a positive note as there are things being done to combat this. Racially diverse ‘Women on YouTube’ panels now feature at all big YouTube conventions. I love coming away from these as I leave feeling inspired and equipped to change the world. There is a huge community of female YouTubers who all support and celebrate each other’s content. And we’re doing our best to make the experience for women on the platform more enjoyable and safe. Happy International Women’s Day! Here’s to all the incredible women creating amazing content on YouTube!