Social media is a really mixed bag, especially if you’re pulling down any kind of income from one of the major platforms. Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok creators can sometimes find themselves caught in a live by the sword, die by the sword dilemma if one of their intended videos is received wrong, poorly, misinterpreted, or any number of other things that happen when we provide short or edited snippets of our lives. That happened to Twitch streamer Jessica Fernandez when she posted a video of her at the gym reacting to a guy eyeing her as she worked out.
Gym Positivity creator, bodybuilder and fellow content creator Joey Swoll, real name Joseph Sergo, saw the video and posted a “Not Every Guy” response to her that has led to a huge number of sites combing through her social media and picking apart her life from every, single angle. I saw one account with over a half-million followers highlighting her saying “I hate to be sexualized” in several posts only to post them next to a picture of her wearing a sexy bunny welcoming everyone to her FanHouse.
The thing about women creating sexual content and hating when men generally sexualize them is that they’re not even remotely the same thing. There’s a big difference between being in a sexy mood, feeling a little horny, and playing with people or yourself however you want to play with them, even if it’s innocent, and someone thrusting unwanted attention on a woman and undressing her while she’s trying to be taken seriously. In one situation, she’s inviting the sex or even initiating it. In the other situation, people are just assuming that because she was horny once that she’s always horny and should be treated as such. I don’t get it.
But I also don’t get her posting the video she did without the context that she later provided with a Facebook post once the situation had gone viral, the post was later quoted in a New York Post article on the situation. Her reply indirectly addressed some of the things Joey Swoll mentioned in his lengthy “Not All Men” video. She explained that the guy wasn’t looking around, as Joey had said he might be, and that he had followed her over there. I would have provided that information in the beginning of my video calling the dude feral, but let’s also address Mr. Swoll and his “criticism.”
Mr. Swoll pretty much tossed out every single excuse men come up with about why a dude might have been doing something else instead of staring at her. Mr. Swoll might be a nice dude and believe in a positive lifestyle, but he also didn’t know the guy and was defending him pretty vociferously without really having all the information. Now I get that he could only work with what Ms. Fernandez had posted, but he was talking as if he knew what he was saying was fact and he was really just kinda guessing, if we’re keeping it a hundred. This woman simply had to be an influencer making a stupid video.
But herein lies the problem for me with this whole situation: Assuming we take everyone at their word, all Ms. Fernandez did not provide a bit more context in this scenario, but it led to every aspect of her life now being picked apart and the dude who helped make that a reality had no real information to work with that she was lying, he just assumed she had to be. There’s no way that guy was “just looking around” if there was truly only a mirror in her direction and if he had followed her from another set of equipment in another part of the gym. Mr. Swoll didn’t know that, but he also didn’t seem to care because he was so sure he was right.
Ms. Fernandez is young and likely learned a valuable lesson about providing context in the future, but I think this experience pretty much speaks to what women have been trying to drill into men’s heads for the better part of the #MeToo era and that is that men have got to stop operating from a position of believing all women are lying. It also makes me wonder why Mr. Swoll didn’t simply reach out to her and get her side of the story before making this video.
You can’t bill yourself as a manufacturer of positivity if you’re making videos where your base assumption is the woman is lying and that’s what happened whether or not Mr. Swoll wants to admit it. He might think the best in people, but this was a woman telling people that a man was harassing her, and instead of believing her, he made a video about why he could be doing something different, but that she was definitely lying.
I guess I fail to see the positivity in that movement. This all started because they didn’t like that she filmed someone in the gym. Some people genuinely film everything, some people are genuinely filming guys being creepy. The level of confidence that Mr. Swoll has that she’s lying when the doesn’t know Ms. Fernandez or the dude in the video is wild to me. It’s even more wild that he’s convinced he’s right simply because she’s a woman filming in a gym. That’s some killer evidence.
I went through Ms. Fernandez’ social media and aside from just being “online,” which you could argue is pretty much ubiquitous with people her age, I legitimately don’t see someone online trying to make it look like all men are this or that. She posts a lot, like, a lot, but this is someone who genuinely looks like a decent person who was caught in a situation and she provided what context she could. Yeah, she made the mistake (?) of not providing the full context at the start, but it’s wild to me that everyone’s just decided she was lying when everything else seems fairly normal.
Ms. Fernandez has taken some time to think about how she wants to respond before putting out a response. I genuinely hope that she knows it’s okay to do what she did. Nobody should have to triple-think recording someone harassing them because a dude professing to be a bastion of positivity on the internet saw a video from a woman and just decided she was lying. The situation sucks. It’s wild that it’s even happening.