Drew Afualo Remix by Cole Mitchell

Drew Afualo is Baba Yaga to misogynists —and a patron saint to everyone else

'Women are ridiculed and vilified for quite literally anything.'

 

Daysia Tolentino

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 13, 2022   Updated on Apr 6, 2022, 3:26 pm CDT

Drew Afualo’s iconic laugh will strike fear in any misogynist’s heart—and joy in everyone else’s. She’s been referred to as a benevolent Bloody Mary (but if you ask her, “That’s Baba Yaga to u hoe”). Under any sexist video, you’re bound to see her name plastered throughout the comments, as people summon her to drag the poster.

Certain parts of TikTok can be a toxic wasteland of bigoted content. “Alpha males,” gym bros, hypermasculine podcast hosts. Afualo is on a mission to clean the app of its worst offenders with the help of her 3.9 million followers.

Afualo has built a devoted following of mostly women by taking down misogynists with ease. She has described her page as “a safe space for everyone … except men.” Creating this safe space has been a throughline throughout her life, from being an unabashed fan girl in high school to navigating a career at the NFL. She has always been intolerant of misogyny and bigotry, and now at 26, she’s made a job out of defending women and terrorizing ignorant men.

“Women are ridiculed and vilified for quite literally anything and everything,” she tells the Daily Dot. “They can’t have anything without dudes, like misogynists that I stitch, putting in their two cents when nobody asked. It’s just an incessant cesspool of unsolicited advice.”

Afualo says these men often try to pass their hateful comments off as jokes. So, she dishes “jokes” right back at them. 

One man stitched a video of a woman discussing fatphobia in the jewelry industry and chose to mock her by laughing hysterically, his mouth opened as wide as he could make it.

“Straight off the dome, unrelated maybe, have you ever heard of toothpaste?” Afualo begins in response. “Perhaps a toothbrush? No? Yeah, I can fucking tell, bitch. ‘Cause baby that tongue? The Yellow Pages.”

“Instead of making shit content about women, which you seem to do a lot, why don’t you get in that bathroom and just go to town on those gnashers? Let me know what you excavate from the plaque build-up, bitch. I see the chest tattoo says ‘prestigious.’ You know what’s not prestigious? Halitosis,” she continues. 

Her insults are so specific and biting that her targets rarely respond, and when they do, she says it’s embarrassing. Bolbi from Jimmy Neutron, Otis from Back at the Barnyard, and the moon face emoji are just a handful of the characters Afualo has used to drag men. 

“It really never fails to shock me when they spin out when I make fun of them because I’m like, isn’t this what you wanted?” she says. “You wanted attention right? From women? Not this one?”

Men have sent her hate because of her videos, but she says “they think that the meanest thing they could ever say to me is call me fat and ugly.” Many of the insults are rooted in fatphobia and rely on the assumption that women put their entire value in their appearances. Afualo says these men fail to realize that “fat” is a neutral term that has no bearing on a person’s looks.

“I’m not a fat person, and I have not lived a fat person’s life,” Afualo says. “However, I’m bigger than the normal girl, so of course they’re gonna say that about me. They would say that about some girl who’s 115 pounds. They would say that about Kendall Jenner if they didn’t like her so much, and she’s rail thin. So that’s what I’m saying, it means nothing when you say it to everybody.”

Afualo has received criticism for being “too mean” and matching the energy of the men she calls out. However, she points out the double standard in those claims: The men she stitches tear down women unprompted, but she gets pushback for responding in defense of the people they insult. If the men are operating under “the guise of jokes” or “dark humor,” she says, why can’t she do the same? She says she’s never going to be at the level of the men she stitches—because she’s not a bigot.

“I never feel bad because the people who make the videos that I stitch are not just misogynists. A lot of times—10 times out of 10—they’re bigots in other ways, too. They’re transphobic or homophobic. They’re extremely racist. Like almost every single one of the dudes I stitch is like the Thanos of bigotry. So they got all five stones, and I’m bad because I compared them to a cartoon cow. Like that makes me just as bad?” she questions.

Afualo’s work has become so popular that misogynists have either preemptively blocked her or tried to bait her into amplifying their videos. She says that a lot of the men who make vitriolic videos about women do so in a transparent attempt at getting female attention. 

Now, there are men who make videos with the intention of getting a stitch from Afualo, a problem she says has worsened lately. She says it’s obvious when a video was made to get her attention because the creators will pin comments tagging her, tag her directly, or try to taunt her. 

“For some reason, men like that think that if I stitch them, it’s gonna run the numbers up,” she says. ”It’s gonna run them up in a way that you will get overwhelmed with, like, funny jokes at your expense from me, right? It never works out the way that you think it’s going to. I think it’s just short-sighted. Like, ‘Oh, she has a big following. If she stitches me, then I will also get a big following.’ Wrong.” 

Afualo typically doesn’t respond to these people, at least not directly. She’ll respond to her fans that tag her in these videos or she’ll post an Instagram Story explaining to her followers why the person isn’t worth her time. 

She says her followers are respectful of the boundaries she sets in regards to her content. For instance, she’ll never make a video roasting women the same way she roasts men because women get criticized for their appearance constantly. This doesn’t mean she supports bigoted women; she just doesn’t want to further contribute to any comments about a woman’s looks. Additionally, she refuses to give air to videos that suggest physical or sexual violence and will block the creators of aggregious content. 

“I just tell people I’m not responding to this, and this is why, and then I block it,” she says. “So I’ll block that person or whoever made it. I’ll just block them so I don’t see it anymore in my mentions, and I don’t have to, like, flood my brain with that awful shit anymore.”

As for boundaries she sets for herself, she doesn’t force herself to make content when things online get overwhelming. With the type of content she makes, she says breaks are essential and she’ll take a day or two to regroup. She says her followers are empathetic to this and supportive in her decisions.

Regardless of the hate and stress she encounters online, Afualo continues to grow exponentially, garnering nearly 1 million followers in the past two weeks alone. After a year of major growth, Afualo is ready to expand even further. She teases that she has a few projects in the works for the new year and hopes to continue on her path to success.


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*First Published: Jan 13, 2022, 8:19 am CST