Mutual Benefits Chapter Four is now out! It was actually out last week and I forgot to make a post announcing that. I thought that was a mistake at the time, but then it was pointed out to me that I misspelled around four words in the same paragraph, so I got to go in and fix it before making this announcement. Blessing in disguise, I guess. For $5 Patrons, Chasing Faith is now released in an edited format too! I hope you all enjoy.
It’s been a hell of a past 36 hours for me. I’m not much of a gamer myself, and I grew up watching a YouTube series called Game Grumps where two guys plays video games with comedic commentary. Those that also know of the Game Grumps know where I’m going with this. To make a long story criminally short, one of the people behind Game Grumps, Dan Avidan, is in the midst of an Internet shitstorm right now, because he allegedly formed a texting friendship with a fan who was 17 and years later the two had sex, and afterwards he ghosted her, cutting her off from being able to communicate with him.
As a result, there are a slew of accusations being thrown his way. Some accuse him of being a groomer, and we’ll need more evidence of their relationship to see if that is undeniably true. Some accuse him of being a pedophile, which doesn’t seem to be true from this story alone. The accusation levied against him which hopefully everyone can get behind though is that he abused a power dynamic and used his fame to convince a fan to sleep with him, and after sleeping with her, ghosted her. Even those saying he “did nothing wrong” (a phrase too vague if ever there was one) agree this was scummy of him.
I’m assuming that you reading this aren’t exactly an internet celebrity – god knows I’m not and never will be – but if you are, you shouldn’t be using your fame to get fans to sleep with you. You shouldn’t be having sex with someone who’s been watching everything you make for years, especially someone that grew up with your content influencing them. And you especially should not ghost them after sleeping with them when this is the dynamic you have.
The whole point of consent is that it’s complicated. It’s not just a black-and-white binary yes-versus-no. That’s the core idea but things get complicated when it goes further than that. If you consented at the beginning of sex and retracted it, and communicated that, and the person kept going, they’re going without your consent, for example.
If that’s a bad example because it still makes consent black-and-white, let’s try this. If you tell someone you only want to have sex in a relationship, so someone declares they love you and asks to be your partner, then has sex with you and afterwards ghosted you and never talked to you again, was that consensual? You did consent, but only under the pretense that you were in a relationship. So given this person lied about loving you to get sex from you, in this situation you consented to something you thought was going to happen, but the sex itself was non-consensual. It’s a betrayal of trust, and consent is more about trust than sex.
This example I just gave wasn’t random. My friend Tweed, who helped me set up this website, has a friend who claimed Dan Avidan did this to her. (There’s no age controversy to this, she was of age when it happened, and while this girl wrote a blog post about it, her story isn’t the one that’s trending right now. If it’s pertinent information, this was, regrettably, her first time having sex. She asked to not be named in this piece.) She admits she should have known better, but was blindsided by how much Dan Avidan meant to her. (It’s almost as if there’s an easily-exploitable power dynamic there.) He was, just like with me, a content creator she “grew up with,” as it were. The trendy internet types like to call this a ‘parasocial relationship’ – a one-sided relationship, where, up to a certain point, while one person gives emotional energy and time and interest, the other party isn’t even aware of that person’s existence.
Cynics will be quick to point out, “So internet celebrities can’t have sex with their fans? So they can only sleep with other celebrities?” This is a bad argument. Number one, it assumes that there are two categories of people according to celebrities (fans and other celebrities) but more importantly, it ignores the weight of the word fan. Not everyone that’s aware of what you do is a fan. If someone is a fan first and foremost, they follow you for your content, and assume the version of you in that content is the real version of you, which isn’t true. I have had sexual relationships with people that have found out after our coupling that they’ve read one or two of my stories before. That wasn’t me sleeping with a fan.
Once, a fan of my work got in contact with me after reading my stories for several months and finding out I lived in Canada. She too lived in Canada and gave me her province and asked if we could get coffee sometime if I was close to her. I turned her down but kept in contact with her, although even that in hindsight was a mistake. She kept talking to me and kept trying to turn the conversation sexual and ask about details of my own sex life, until one day when I decided she wouldn’t stop and blocked her. It’s very clear I could have taken advantage of that opportunity and gotten sex from her. That would have been wrong of me because of the influence I had over her as someone whose work she’d read for months. She was, quite frankly, unhealthily interested in me. Was that my fault? No. But if I took advantage of that, it would have been.
Dan Avidan can form relationships with people, including people that know about his work, but only if they’re in his life as a person and acquaintance first. He, and many other celebrities, countless celebrities, should know the difference between a person happening to know who he is and a fan, and they should all know it’s distasteful to craft a sexual relationship with the latter. And to be blunt, he should also know that even if he’s going to abuse his power dynamic like that, the dumbest and most disrespectful thing he could do is immediately cut off communication from her after having sex with her and making her feel devalued like that, especially if Tweed’s friend’s story is true and he lied about having romantic feelings for her just to get her to give him her virginity and then cut off communication from her, as if she was just an opportunity for sex from him the whole time.
So for the record, I’m not interested in debating if he broke any laws. I don’t care if he broke any laws. I care about the scumbag behavior displayed, from multiple alleged victims, where he leverages his fame to get sex from people that would otherwise be unwilling. And for the record, the people that go “he didn’t commit a crime so he did nothing wrong, stop talking about it” are behaving in a scumbag-like manner too.
The other comment I have seen is “well you just described every rock star ever. Sure, it’s a dick move, but if you are mad at him for doing this you should be mad at every celebrity.”
Please, tell me how that makes this situation at all better.
Do you know how many rockstars and celebrities the world has? If this attitude is so pervasive people say that “all rock stars do it,” that’s all the more reason to condemn this behavior and make sure this cycle doesn’t keep repeating. If you agree this behavior is bad but say “I can’t be mad at him because then I’d be mad at everyone,” you’re basically telling me, “it’s too much work to condemn this behavior unless it comes from someone I already dislike.” In which case you don’t seem to care about whether it’s scummy or not.
This exact situation is why I write the types of stories I do. I tweeted recently something along the lines of, “If you support him, you have failed to understand the themes of my books.” Consent is complicated, but also very important. People need to realize that the reason celebrities shouldn’t have sex with their fans is easily comparable to why students should not have sex with their teachers. When you’re a fan – someone that obsesses over someone that doesn’t even know you, someone that would be incredibly influenced by anything they’d say or do – it’s dangerous when that person sees you and thinks, “I bet I could have sex with them.”
If I wrote this exact situation as one of my stories, and you read it, tell me you wouldn’t immediately see Dan Avidan as the villain.