The problem with the ‘sweeping girls off their feet’ prank

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This it’s-just-a-joke mentality is dismissive.

There’s a troubling trend within the bro-prank YouTube world lately. The pickup artist channel Simple Pickup recently uploaded their “Massaging Random Hot Girls” video, in which they approach unsuspecting women and give them an unsolicited massage. (The video is now private.) The channel Whatever, which touts its pranks as “social experiments,” is also responsible for a series of pickup videos. Who could forget their classy experiment “Picking Up Girls With a Boner”?

A new video from the YouTube channel LAHWF, called “Sweeping Girls Off Their Feet,” is the latest questionable prank. Two men go to the Utah Valley University campus, sneak up behind women, and literally pick them up off their feet. Some of the women go along with it; others make it known they're uncomfortable. Several of the video’s comments further illustrate this divide: Some don’t see the big deal, some do not think it’s acceptable. (LAHWF also has a video in which men try to kiss unsuspecting women.)

The fact that they did this on a college campus, instead of a busy street, doesn’t make it any better. One woman asks, after being picked up and handed off to another guy, if she’s “going to be passed around,” and it’s hard not to cringe at that statement. This it’s-just-a-joke mentality is dismissive. Women already have to look over their shoulders as they walk home. We field unwanted comments about our bodies from strangers on a daily basis.

These types of videos are teaching young men that this behavior is acceptable, that all you need to do to woo a woman is throw her over your shoulder, or force a massage on her, or force a kiss on her. That consent doesn't really matter.

And now we have to watch as it’s turned into “entertainment.”

Screengrab via LAHWF/YouTube

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Are the Simple Pickup videos harmless fun or sexual assault?
Though the pickup artist YouTube channel Simple Pickup has been around for at least two years and has more than 1 million followers, the videos didn’t come to Tumblr’s attention until a recent upload called “Massaging Random Hot Girls.” The clip shows the trio randomly rubbing unsuspecting women in public. A post about the three men—Kong, Jesse, and Jason—went viral after a signal boost by feminist blogs following the video’s release.
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