These YouTubers Want to Demystify Feminism and Empower their Audiences
While YouTube has often been maligned for amplifying toxic rhetoric, the user-generated video platform is a goldmine for finding the voices that we want to hear—and sometimes need to hear. Pretty much any conceivable under-represented person may find a confirming mirror who makes their living by riffing unscripted about their unique experience. Some of the producers below are flourishing in this medium while doing their best to shed light on what real feminism looks like - and it looks intersectional, creative and hilarious.
Remember Sh*t White Girls Say… to Black Girls? Now the host of MTV’s Decoded, Franchesca Leigh Ramsey started out on YouTube with her tutorials and animations in 2008 before that famous video went so viral that she ended being interviewed by Anderson Cooper. While she has created a lot of “life update” style content and classic vlogging, much of her material is a comedic treatment of racism to educate how to be better allies - to women, people of color, LGBTQI+, or disabled communities. An example is the video Getting Called Out: How to Apologize. She used a personal experience to even the ethical playing field on this particular subject, where she had to escape her own defensiveness on an issue affecting transgender people, and grow to become a better activist.
Ramsey has come a long way across several media. She was a writer and contributor for The Night Show with Larry Wilmore. Her book “Well, That Escalated Quickly” is being released in May of this year. She has a biweekly podcast called “Last Name Basis” that she co-hosts with her husband Patrick AND she is on the development slate for a Comedy Central show pilot this year. Decoded was also awarded Webby Winner and People’s Voice in 2017.
Kat Blaque is a Los Angeles-based artist/animator, filmmaker and trans activist. By the nature of her art, she has a very collaborative channel, with kid’s story formatted Sometimes You’re A Caterpillar, animated by Blaque and written/narrated by Franchesca Ramsey. The story is a simple one of friendship and compassion winning out over difference, made accessible through the helpful lens of zoomorphism.
Blaque also posted an animated Draw My Life telling the story of her childhood years at Cal Arts during which she came out and transitioned, as well as sharing the first few years of her artistic career. Many aspects of her story she had never discussed previously on her channel: being adopted, her process of exploring gender identity, and how she approached dating during her transition. Many of her recent videos are in Q&A format, covering intersectionality, race and trans related issues.
Kat Lazo’s channel is full of feminist treatments of media, critiques of portrayals of Latinas, and sex/body positivity. One of the videos is a fairly vulnerable montage of her focusing on her relationship with her body, called Emotions of Weight. While she may not have a flawless self-image, her aim is to "send a message out, and to myself, not to really care that much and to spend more time with your body loving your body than you do criticizing your body.” Her most recent video Dar Latinx, Let’s Check Our Privilege, explains the role of skin tone hierarchy and light-skin privilege within minority cultures, also referred to as Colorism.
Since gaining a following on YouTube, Lazo has expanded her video production career to include other digital content platforms like Buzzfeed and HuffPost Women. To keep the YouTuber cross-pollination theme going, she has also collaborated with Decoded. She currently is a video producer for Latino content platform we are mitú, which was launched in 2012. According to Variety, mitú has the potential to connect with 58 million Latinos in the US, which is still considered an underserved population despite its high performance or “over indexing” on “movie ticket sales, mobile phone usage, online video consumption, and social-media usage and sharing.”
Community building is the superpower potential of YouTube, and these voices are not only doing that, but they want to build bridges too - like MTV Braless’ Laci Green cracking open male privilege by asking trans men to explain it with their own experiences. Turning feminist arguments into discussions that affect real people makes them much more accessible - even if the comments or responses would say otherwise.
This collection does not seek to be exhaustive, but it does spotlight a few individuals who are trying to make the Internet a little safer for minorities, and a little easier for us to act with compassion. They do this not just by showing us how, but by publicly making mistakes, fessing up, and learning from them.