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If you haven't heard, there have been some really troubling stories about manipulative and abusive relationships between online creators and their fans.

While that situation certainly spurred me to make this video, I also think a video like this is long overdo. We're excited to be facing these problems head-on, because the only way out is through.

Thanks to our task force for helping me edit this video and make sure I wasn't too clumsy with the work, especially to Sahitya.

Here are some resources put together by the task force:

If someone is pressuring you:

Types of assault:

Find a local crisis center:

Online hotline:

International resources:

Emotional abuse:

"Digital" abuse:

Warning signs of an abusive relationship:

Good Morning John. 

I want to start this off by saying that I am not a doctor, I'm not a counselor, I haven't experienced sexual abuse, I'm just a person with some thoughts that hopefully could be helpful. To someone. 

Sex is complicated, in like, every way imaginable. This is not aided by the fact that we have a general societal taboo against discussing it. So when we do talk about it, it's often shrouded in metaphors and innuendo and bombasticity. That means a lot of the sexual norms of our culture are mysterious, and we don't actually talk about them; we just sort of infer them. I think that's dumb. And that's part of why I helped Nick and Lindsey start sexplanations. 

I think that our culture has kind of a messed up relationship with sex. We somehow have made these relationships, uh, into, like, predator/prey relationships. Like, one person is the, you know, the cruise missile of desire, and the other one is the sweet, chaste little kitten. And the cruise missile has to get the kitten and the kitten runs away. I don't know why it's a cruise missile and a kitten. 

I do know, though, that this is a dumb system. I think that a lot of the joy and wonder and excitement of a romantic relationship comes from those moments of excitedly discovering that both parties are into this. We're in- we're both into this! That's a great feeling! The attack missile/kitten relationship does not encourage that. 

I wanna be clear, I'm explaining culture but I'm not excusing the behavior. When we're set up to assume that the kitten is gonna run whether the kitten wants the cruise missile or not, that enables abuse. In my opinion this is, I'm sure not all of the reason, but one of of the big reasons why sexual abuse is so common in our culture. 

Okay, I said sexual abuse, but what- what is sexual abuse? Legally, the definition has to be very specific, so that it can stand up in court. So it's different state to state, country to country. But for the purposes of having a general definition, let's just say that sexual abuse is when one party is being coerced into doing something sexual that they do not want to do.

That can be because the victim is incapacitated, or because the abuser is an authority figure, or because the victim is placed in a dangerous situation where they feel like they don't have the option of saying no or getting out of the situation. The gender of the parties is irrelevant, it can be sex, it can be kissing. 

If one person doesn't want to be doing what they are doing and they are being coerced or pressured into doing it, then that is abuse. And it is ubiquitous. And it needs to not be, because it holds us back as a culture. We have to rid ourselves of that outdated and rotten conception that sexual relationships are like predator/prey things.

Let's zoom in for this. Romantic relationships can be wonderful, but you have to have that magical thing, consent. And not saying no is not the same as saying yes. We need to communicate, we need to be sensitive, we need to talk about what we do and don't want to do, and we have to respect and NOT pressure people when they don't want to do something. 

This video is part of a long conversation that is going to continue to be had for a long time. But John and I have some ideas about how to keep it moving. First, we've already started working with a group of nerdfighters, including some survivors of sexual abuse, who will be working as a task force against abuse and assault. 

Second, we want to produce and fund a series of videos that discusses abuse and consent and sexual relationships, especially in light of the new digital world, like where does Skype fit into it all, right? 

And third, we're looking to partner with some existing sexual assault organizations to bring their work and their resources into our community, and hopefully into other online communities as well. John, I know we're not gonna fix the whole world but I'm pleased to be in a position where we can at least start to help enable some positive change. 

I'll see you on Tuesday. 


If you're in an abusive relationship or you think you might be and you're just not sure, there are links in the description to help you figure out where you're at, and to people who you can call or go to for help. Sometimes just figuring out the abusive nature of a relationship can be a huge challenge, and once you're in there, it can seem like it is impossible to escape, but it is not.