Failed social experiment emphasizes sexual harassment

Youtube star Sam Pepper raises controversy with prank video

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Failed social experiment emphasizes sexual harassment

Elizabeth Fleming, JAG reporter/photographer

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Sexual harassment is an issue that has plagued society for decades now.  Every year countless women, and men, fall victim to different forms of unwanted sexual attention anywhere from cat-calling to rape.  A recent slew of shocking events has caused me to think, how can we stop sexual harassment and fix this problem in society?  But first, let’s take a look at what unfolded last week on YouTube.

British YouTube personality Sam Pepper showed off his untasteful acting skills, as well as his crude demeanor, in a video he uploaded titled “Fake Hand Ass Prank.” In the video Pepper approached women acting as a confused pedestrian and then asked them for directions.  When the ladies would turn around, he’d grope them with his hand strategically concealed in his sweatshirt.

Soon after the “Fake Hand Ass Prank,” another video was uploaded by Pepper showing women inappropriately groping men without their consent, just as he had.  The videos received a flood of disapproving feedback from the YouTube community as well as many other social media outlets, and they were removed from the website.  Within days Pepper uploaded a response video where he claimed that he was only conducting a social experiment through his two videos in order to shine light on the issue of sexual harassment directed towards males.

This isn’t the first time Pepper has sexually violated people on camera.  In one of his videos he handcuffed himself to women who were painfully uncomfortable with the situation, and refused to unlock the cuffs until they made out with him.

After his response video was uploaded, YouTube personality Laci Green posted an open letter asking Pepper to stop creating videos promoting sexual harassment. The letter generated over 100,000 signatures and caused women to speak out about past instances where Pepper had sexually violated and even raped them.

One of the milder yet equally horrible situations is told in a YouTube video by Dottie Martin called ‘A Cautionary Tale’.  In the video she tells how two years ago Pepper sexually violated her after they met at a meet and greet when she was just sixteen and Pepper was twenty three.  This is just one of many infuriating and heartbreaking stories from young women sexually harassed by Pepper, as well as other YouTubers, that has surface the web following Green’s letter.

This horrible display of behavior by Pepper is unacceptable.  One of the most frustrating aspects of this whole ordeal has been the unsettling amount of Pepper’s 2 million YouTube subscribers who have been standing up for him.  These fans have primarily been using the excuse that everyone makes mistakes to make it seem like Pepper isn’t at fault for the horrible things he did.  When Pepper violated the women he did, he was fully aware of the decisions he was making and that warrants no excuse.

Just because he sexually harassed women on camera and called it an experiment and a prank does not make what Pepper did ok or understandable in any way, shape or form.  This is how society can stop sexual harassment.  By stop defending Pepper and people like him who normalize the violation of sexual privacy.  Society needs to stand up to sexual harassment and quit making excuses.

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