The Kickass Women Doing Kickass Things panel took place on Saturday at VidCon Europe 2017. It featured LDShadowLady, Jenn McAllister, and Hannah Hart, and was moderated by Hannah Witton.
The panel began with a discussion regarding the best things about being a woman on YouTube. Jenn McAllister said that she liked being seen as an “older sister” for her viewers while LDShadowLady, aka Lizzie, mentioned that the plus side of being part of the male-dominated gaming community on YouTube is that her videos are easy to find. “When you’re looking for a girl who plays games, it’s easy to find one of the only ones,” she said.
On the topic of dealing with hate, Lizzie acknowledged: “Criticism that is constructive, I’ll take it on; I won’t just ignore that.” However, the panellists agreed that the best approach is to generally ignore negative comments, with Jenn mentioning that she finds a lot of the hate on her channel objectifying.
When speaking about role models, Hannah Hart referred to Jenna Marbles as a “trailblazer” for women on YouTube, and she and Jenn agreed that Grace Helbig was a role model for them when they were starting out on the platform. Hannah Hart added that, as women, they make time for “stories led by women”. Hannah Witton shared that Lilly Singh inspires her, while Lizzie said that just seeing girls with gaming channels was inspiring to her when she was starting out, regardless of how many subscribers they had.
The conversation turned to pushing the boundaries of gender. “I just keep shaving off parts of my head,” joked Hannah Hart. She added that the LGBTQ+ community has been educational for her, especially when using pronouns for people who are outside the gender binary. She also spoke about the role of gender in society, saying that “I hope that we can move into arenas where we’re having conversations just about our interests and our passions and less about how being a woman affects [us]”. Lizzie and Jenn said that simply being female in their male-dominated industries of gaming and comedy is a way of breaking down gender boundaries.
Leading on from this, Hannah Witton asked whether the panellists ever feel pressured to make a particular type of video because of their gender. Jenn referred to her room tour, saying that she was asked to make one but decided to do it in her own way: “I take things that people request and put my own twist on them.”
Jenn also said that not being taken seriously was one of the main obstacles that she faces on YouTube, acknowledging that her age could be a factor contributing to this as well. Hannah Witton then focused on the obstacles that the panellists experienced when transitioning to traditional media, saying that she wasn’t used to waiting so long for her audience to see her book, Doing It, and to receive feedback on it, when she can upload a video and have feedback in the space of a day.
Hannah Hart and Jenn also spoke about their experiences with traditional media. Both said that they had to get used to “being collaborative in larger entities” since, as Jenn asserted, YouTubers usually work as the “writers, the producers, and the directors and the stars” of their own videos. She referenced her film Bad Night and her role in Foursome on YouTube Red, while Hannah Hart mentioned her two books and her future project with Lionsgate to create an “LGBT romantic comedy”. The panellists agreed that they are grateful to be able to tell their stories through traditional media.
The panellists had contrasting views on organisation, with Hannah Witton and Jenn mentioning that they like to plan meticulously and Hannah Hart and Lizzie referring to themselves as unorganised. In terms of a schedule, Hannah Hart mentioned that often depends on her mental and physical state.
Then it was time for audience questions. One audience member asked about how the panellists built up their confidence, to which Hannah Hart replied: “Confidence is a lie!” She explained by saying that “every single person feels insecure… I’m not trying to build my confidence, I’m trying to build my sense of inner security”.
Another member of the audience asked how the panellists feel about being role models. Hannah Witton said that she wants to use YouTube for good, adding that she takes her position as a role model very seriously, while Hannah Hart agreed, saying that she feels a “great sense of responsibility that [she enjoys] having”. The panellists all agreed that it was important to talk about different issues on YouTube, with Hannah Hart mentioning politics as an example. However, she added that YouTubers should also accept their own ignorance about these issues.
The panel ended with some advice to aspiring creators. “Make the videos you want to make,” said Jenn. Lizzie added, “Don’t be afraid to be weird.” Hannah Hart echoed Grace Helbig’s advice: “Follow your fear.”
Find out more about Hannah Witton’s book cover and tour, or read about when TenEighty met Jenn McAllister. Alternatively, check out Five of the Best: Women About Women or the Women on YouTube panel at Summer in the City 2016.