For the first time in six months, Alex Day is making videos. The most prominent perpetrator in the ongoing YouTube sex abuse problems, accused by thirteen different women of varying degrees of inappropriate behaviour, has come back to tell his side of the story.
Allegations were posted on Tumblr in March, ranging from assaulting women in their sleep to kissing them despite a verbal ‘no’ to inappropriate flirting with women much younger than him. Day initially denied any breach of consent, saying he never did anything with anyone without being sure they wanted it. He later admitted he had, in fact, had a lack of understanding of what consent is and was discovered on Reddit last week arguing that the initial post was accurate and that the second was only an attempt to make the scandal go away.
In his new video, he firstly denies flirting with the young women and only addresses the claims that some of his partners felt pressured. He also lashes out at the people on Tumblr calling for him to stay away from YouTube, calling them “militantly liberal” and saying they drive away anyone who disagrees with their opinion. At no point does he clarify whether he thinks sexual assault counts as an opinion.
Throughout the video, Day talks about where the YouTube community need to be going; it’s clear he intends to return to his devoted audience of over one million people, and he isn’t the only one. Ed Blann, who admitted to sexual abuse in 2013, has begun posting his songs on YouTube again this month.
If one thing is clear about these cases, from Day to Tom Milsom to Mike Lombardo, it is that their positions of fame and fan bases facilitated their manipulation and abuse. YouTube is unique in that celebrities with millions of fans connect personally with them far more than other famous people do. Online chats, conventions and the personal nature of so many vloggers’ content make fans feel a part of creators’ lives, and creators exert the power of fame over them. If their fans are what made them able to pursue and manipulate young women, should they be able to return to that community?
Several other creators have come out with responses to Day’s video, stating their objection to his and Ed Blann’s return. Lex Croucher, among others, says that victims will never be safe in a space where perpetrators of abuse are welcomed back. And if abusers are able to come back to their devoted fans without any repercussions, then will future abusers even feel the need to leave?
Illustration: Naoise Dolan