Nina Howard

On Friday, Jan. 24, UT students learned of a recent YouTube video that was less than entertaining and all the way degrading to female students. A group of male freshman students released a “Smash or Pass: UTK Edition” YouTube video that received controversial feedback.

“Smash or Pass” is a popular game on different YouTube channels where participants choose between ‘smashing’ (having intercourse with) or ‘passing’ a contender, who is usually a famous YouTuber and/or celebrity — both men and women alike are subject to the game.

However, the UTK Edition took a left turn when participants turned contenders into UTK female students. The most upsetting part is that the young women I interviewed were not aware of their involvement in the video.

Junior Taryn Williamson says, “I was not asked to be in the video. I didn’t even watch it … because I don’t know any of those boys. I was told by other people I was in the video.”

As offensive as the video was to some students, others found humor in it — specifically, those who played a part in the video’s production. Those students took to Twitter to voice their concerns, stating their peers were missing the pure intentions behind the project.

One tweet says, “Them young n***** was doing something productive and fun w no harm meant. I was there I witnessed … We gotta loosen up and be fun w it. Folks opinions shouldn’t hold that much weight. Me and friends who were in the junt been laughing about it.”

Though the point of others’ opinions holding too much weight is valid, it undercuts the feelings of those who were exploited without permission. Moreover, the images chosen for the video perpetuates the ideology behind women constantly being objectified sexually, as if that is the only aspect of a woman that is important or worth anything.

The impact of the video caused a divide between the genders.

Women on campus feel they were slighted and objectified, while male counterparts express that the video was harmless and all in good fun. However, it is hard to understand the logic behind this kind of humor.

Young men sitting around a table “smashing” and “passing” their female peers and then posting it on a large platform, is degrading and humiliating. Although young men today may not fully understand the severity of this sexual exploitation, the fact of the matter is that publicly highlighting a woman’s sexuality without her consent is not only not irresponsible but humiliating.

Yes, it is important to not let the opinions of others effect you; nevertheless, opinions can have a negative effect. In a society where women are taking charge of their identities and sexualities and receiving backlash for it, it does not help those efforts to be undermined by childish games that do not contribute to a greater good.

If no harm was intended, the young men should have at least given the young women the courtesy of asking their permission to be included in the video. That way, it would have been a true “fun and games” situation.

There are two sides to every story. The young men’s intentions may have been harmless and fun, but for those young women, they were hurt and publicly humiliated. There is a difference between intention and impact, and the impact of this video caused more hurt than laughter.

Nina Howard is a sophomore majoring in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at nhoward5@vols.utk.edu.

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