I Can’t Believe This Needs to Be Said, But Rubbing Chili On Someone’s Tampon Is Not a ‘Prank’
On Tuesday, Huffington Post UK published an article showcasing a ‘prank’ from UK comedian Brad Holmes. In the video, which was also posted to Holmes’ Facebook page, Holmes explains that “it’s Jen’s time of the month so I’m gonna play a little trick on her and give her a hot vagina.” He then appears to rub a chili on an unwrapped tampon, put the tampon back inside the wrapping, and watch as his girlfriend complains of extreme discomfort after inserting it.
There’s no disclaimer anywhere that the video was staged, although it very well may have been (a Facebook page under the name “Brad’s Girlfriend” shared the video with the message “he’s at it again”). I’d still be immensely disconcerted even if it was plainly stated on HuffPo or within the video that Jen (referred to in the article as Jenny Davies) was in on the ‘joke’ and consented to having footage of her put online. But since there’s no such disclaimer, Holmes’ video sends the message, without qualification, that it’s hilarious to violate women’s bodies and privacy.
As the video tells it, Jen was tricked by her boyfriend into causing herself harm, and the footage of that incident was then put on the internet—possibly, judging by Jen’s apparent anger at the end of the video, without her explicit consent.
People familiar with Holmes’ comedy and social media presence, or the public dynamic between him and his girlfriend, might interpret it differently; but for HuffPost readers being introduced to the pair via this article without the luxury of additional context, that’s the narrative they may have taken away from it. But that isn’t a prank. It’s abuse.
By posting the ‘prank’ on their comedy vertical under tags like “Uk Comedy,” “Funny Videos,” “Pranks,” “Prank,” and “Funny Pranks,” HuffPo UK helped validate using women’s bodily autonomy as a punchline. Tampering with someone’s personal hygiene products is fucked up. It’s exceptionally violating and dangerous, and it’s terrifying to me that a video presenting something so obviously invasive and unhealthy has also been relatively popular.
As of writing, the video has been viewed over 2.5 million times and shared over 20,000 times. Some of those views and shares are likely from people incensed at the content, but how many of them are from impressionable young people internalizing the message that it’s okay—commendable, even—to hurt women as long as it’s a ‘joke,’ part of an established trajectory for men craving internet fame?
HuffPo has since deleted the article and replaced it with an apologetic editor’s note, but a cache of the original post can be found here. I’ve reached out to Huffington Post UK and Holmes with a request for statement but have yet to hear back.
Tampering with tampons isn’t a prank. It’s also not funny—at all.
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