*TRIGGER WARNING: contains discussion of sexual assault, domestic violence, rape and rape culture*
Since Tik Tok became exceedingly popular in January 2020, many users have found positive solace in participating in dance challenges, laughing at funny bits, singing car karaoke, watching Disney Channel throwback clips, and more. But like other social media applications, there is always room for toxic trends to creep in. Enter in: the misogynistic and rape culture promotions.
Given the power of social media and its influence, I couldn’t help but wonder, what is up with the misogynistic and rape culture trends on Tik Tok? Why isn’t Tik Tok banning this content?
It’s truly depressing how this conversation continues to be needed in so many areas but here we are.
As a feminist, a woman, and a victim of sexual harassment and assault, I will personally never stop speaking up when the time calls so here we go. Let’s dissect this.
- The “Independent Women Aren’t for Everyone” Trend
First up we have the misogynistic “independent women are not for everyone” trend where an individual, typically male, shows clips of his partner's accomplishments. Through his narrative, he explains how his partner having financial, educational, intellectual, professional, and emotional independence and confidence is overwhelming and not a standard capability of all men to handle. The individual explains it's particularly difficult that “she doesn’t need you”.
This trend suggests not only that independent women are “too much to handle” but that it is simply “too much work” to treat women as equals. It also suggests that it is “too hard” for these types of men to get over themselves and deal with their own toxic masculinity, that the optimal thing to do would be to embrace the toxic masculinity that needs a submissive woman's admiration and dependence to “feel like a man.”
I wonder, why is it okay for men to not need us (women) but not the other way around? Why is it crazy or ridiculous when a woman doesn’t need a man?
Simple, because although we live in a world that puts on their feminist face every day, the truth is that we still live in a world where women’s equality and independence is severely undervalued.
It is not a woman’s job to make men “feel like a man,” especially not when that entails devaluing herself. A romantic partner should be an equal because their success and independence is equally as important. Because no matter how much the patriarchy tries to shove this down everyone’s throats, a woman’s purpose is not to depend on a man.
- The "Simp" Trend
*Showing women basic respect and kindness* “Dude, you’re such a simp!”
Here’s another misogynistic/rape culture promoting trend—calling someone a “simp.” A “simp” is an individual who treats their partner, usually female, with this respect and kindness. The trend of calling someone a “simp,” is where individuals use peer pressure and shame to convince or persuade others that treating women with respect and kindness is weak, inferior and makes that individual “less of a man.”
This trend suggests that treating women like human beings who deserve respect, kindness, and equality, is wrong, and treating them in a dehumanizing and abusive way is somehow right. This trend encourages extremely dangerous abusive behavior that is linked to rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, etc.
Being a “simp,” being someone who shows the respect and kindness their romantic partner deserves from them, should be something that is encouraged, not called out and shamed. Say it with me, “it does not make you a man to disrespect a woman and her boundaries.”
- The 365 DNI
If you have not seen 365 Days it is essentially a pornography film that romanticizes and glorifies rape, domestic violence, and kidnapping. The reaction Tik Tok clips will often encourage the viewing of this film as advice to “spice up” your sexual palette—captions reading something along the lines of, “Massimo can kidnap me anytime.”
These reaction trends are normalizing the process of internalizing rape culture and blurring the lines between rough sex and abuse. Rough sex is something that an individual would give enthusiastic consent to, rape and abuse are not. 365 is not a “spicy” what’s new with sex trend that we should be encouraging and promoting, it’s a disgusting motive to encourage us to continue facilitating rape culture. It’s not okay and it needs to stop.
- The Coercion Tips + Tricks Trend
*Men literally giving tips on how to coerce a woman into sex*
There are some Tik Tok account users, like @russellhartley, who are literally making videos that are essentially a how-to assault/coercion guide. What’s truly upsetting is that these account holders have almost 500K followers, that’s almost 500K of rapist disciples.
Why isn’t Tik Tok Doing anything about this?
Finally, the golden question: why isn’t Tik Tok doing anything about this?
Given that nearly 60% of viewers/users on Tik Tok range from the ages of 16-24, 13 being the age requirement to make an account, these trends are incredibly dangerous and damaging. To young and impressionable Tik Tok users, these trends mask themselves as relationship goals, lust and sex, but really it’s conditioning young people, particularly young women, to normalize rape and abuse. So, why aren’t they doing anything? And why are they taking down the videos where users try to use cancel culture to counteract the rape trends but letting the rape promo videos stay up?
Simple, there are not enough of us that are speaking out against the abuse and danger of rape culture. Especially in the age of cancel culture, together, we have the power to stop normalizing rape culture and sexually objectifying women. Though it seems like it sometimes, it is not hopeless.