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TikTok’s Comment Section: A New Wave of Sexual Harassment

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

Content warning: mentions of sexual harassment and abuse.

We need to talk about the disgusting place that is TikTok’s comment section.

I want to acknowledge that this article focuses on just a small part of a bigger problem. It is important to recognize I am touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media, and there are countless issues in connection to this one. But for now, I am focusing on the comment section under female content creators. It is worrisome to see the normalization of comments that sexualize specified body parts, and I fear it could lead to dangerous consequences.

If you are on TikTok, you’re not a stranger to the comments that I am talking about. They are usually the top comment, bringing in 3000+ likes on a comment that dehumanizes a person down to a sexualized object. Comments like: “Hear me out,” “I know it’s pink,” “I know it’s (hex code number),” “Grip Reaper,” and many more. What’s disgusting is seeing someone post that comment, but what’s even worse is seeing the thousands of people that press the heart-shaped button next to it. Many of these comments are directed towards women of color, women with disabilities, minors, or any woman who seems to not fit traditional societal beauty standards to the people who make those comments.

Starting out with the comment, “Hear me out.” I find this comment similar to the phrase, “You’re pretty for an Asian girl,” because the person is insinuating that they equate ugliness to being Asian. But because they perceive you as beautiful, you are therefore an exception which leads to their “justification” for believing what they said was a compliment. It is the same exact premise as the “hear me out” comment. Except in this case, the person insinuates that they find this person unattractive in some kind of way, but because they move, act, or speak in a way that becomes sexually appealing, they can overlook the parts that they find unattractive.

The latter comments, “I know it’s pink” and “Grip reaper” focus on the physicality of a woman’s vagina. I’ve seen these comments used in reference as well to a man’s rear. At the end of the day, these are backhanded compliments rooted in hateful belief systems that dehumanize people down to their sexualized parts. These comments can also be found under TikToks of girls who are minors that are dancing or simply moving. There are many times when I have seen a person defend these comments by saying it’s “just a joke.” But it’s not just a joke, it’s sexual harassment. It doesn’t feel dangerous when we read it on a screen. At least, not until you think about the fact that there is someone on the other side of the screen who thought it would be appropriate to make a sexual comment on an underaged girl’s TikTok about her going to the chiropractor.

The dismissiveness of comments like these plants a seed of harmful belief systems that could potentially lead to dangerous consequences and further mistreatment of women. When people choose to dismiss the true harmful nature of these comments, it normalizes this kind of behavior. People who choose to take action in harassing women start by expressing ideas like these without being held accountable. So, the hatred and harmful systems continue to grow until it is too late and another woman is found dead at the hands of ideas like this. 

People don’t seem to care until it gets to the point of no return. People don’t seem to care unless the news circulates a case of another woman who has been abused and murdered. It seems that in order for a drastic change to occur, there needs to be bruises and marks to prove a woman is abused. What needs to happen, is to hold people accountable for their words and actions. The normalization of people who show dangerous and abusive language is what leads to dangerous outcomes for many women. What we need to do is shut down these ideas before they grow into something worse.

I have provided some links to more research and information regarding this topic below.

Zaira Bardos

Washington '22

seattle, wa writer & filmmaker Editorial Assistant for Pulley Press Publishing