As Emily Graslie, host of the YouTube channel "The Brain Scoop," points out, she holds down a rare space on the Internet. Not many women host video channels dedicated to science, technology, education, and math.
All too common, however, are users on any platform leaving comments that stray from the content's subject and instead serve to bully, discriminate, or humiliate. As a woman, Graslie has read her fair share of this kind of feedback and is not pulling any punches in her latest video, which tackles the subject.
The chief curiosity correspondent for Chicago's Field Museum is going viral with a piece called, tongue in cheek, "Where My Ladies At?" In the six-minute clip, the first problem that Graslie highlights is the lack of female hosts with popular channels on the Internet. A stat that she drops: 7 of 13 male-hosted channels have over a million subscribers; only 4 channels hosted by women have more than 160,000. Graslie then shines a light on what she believes one of the main issues is: the pressure on the Internet that exists for women on camera. She notes that while men might also experience the expectation for flawless content, YouTube commenters make it harder for the opposite sex.
"We have a fear of the feedback from our commenters and subscribers, because we're afraid that our audience is more focused on our appearance than the quality of our content," Graslie explains. "Even more than that, we're not convinced that the content has to be good or factual, because we're not convinced that people are watching it for the content in the first place."
Driving home Graslie's point is the voice of the series' director, Michael Aranda, reading some of the vile comments directed at the host. Apparently viewers of the channel chime in on everything from the shape of Graslie's nose to the sexual acts viewers would like to see between her and co-hosts.
Again, if you've ever read a comments section on the Internet, the idea of "trolls" is nothing new to you. Graslie's analysis of this problem is refreshing, though, and let's hope it brings about a change in the way people treat each other from behind computer screens.
Here's another video from Brain Scoop, in which Graslie takes a look at the "shinier secrets" in the Field Museum's Gem collection.