If the above title leaves you feeling bewildered, lost and befuddled, welcome to the world of ASMR, that stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Many videos on YouTube end with ‘ASMR’, which means these videos are made for relaxation purposes with the following sounds or visual stimuli also known as ASMR triggers: whispering, slow and soft speech, choice of words and phonemes (Ps, Ts, Ks commonly trigger the tingly sensation), sounds of lips smacking when eating or kissing, certain accents, eye contact, hand movements that make you feel close in proximity, sounds like crinkling, tapping, scratching or flipping pages and the list goes on (Richard, 2014). Now, have you ever experienced a tingle in the head that travels through your spine to the limbs? This tingly sensation is euphoric, relaxing and gives you a feeling of well being. ASMR videos are being watched by thousands of people daily, with the most popular videos hitting millions of views. Is the success of these videos the calming and relaxing feeling one gets from them or is it something sexual, flirtatious and seductive? A big misconception about ASMR is that it involves something sexual (Richard, 2014). This is not true. However, there is a subset of these videos that are focused on a more sexual perspective such as fetish videos.
Over the years, there appears to be a lot of comments about the sexuality and fetishes on YouTube’s ASMR videos to the displeasure of the content creators (Richard, 2014). These ASMR artists, or otherwise known as ASMRtists, hate that their efforts are being compared to something taboo in the eyes of the public – sex. Generally, women ASMRtists who dress more revealing and flirt with the audience receive the most hate.
GwenGwiz is a talented ASMRtist with 286K subscribers who suffers from the sexuality hate as newcomers often see it as a beautiful woman seducing them on the video.
Indeed, it is a valid point as the soft tone of voices is one of the ASMR triggers and is very similar to a seductive tone. Besides, Gwen’s slow and soft articulation of speech coupled with knowing glances to the camera, it is easy to see why people tend to view her ASMR videos as ‘sexually suggestive’. To add on that, the media is also advertently and inadvertently trying to sexualise ASMR (Richard, 2014), where newcomers might just get the wrong idea of the main purpose of such videos. Perhaps one way to solve this problem is to consider these ASMR videos as massage for the inner body and coincidentally, massages have been viewed as somewhat sexual too. Honestly speaking, ASMR videos are as sexual as massages, you can make it sexual if you want, but in the beginning, it is seldom the case. Who knows? ASMR could one day fill the role of foreplay instead of good old massages.
Richard, C. (2014). “ASMR University: The Art & Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.” Retrieved 20 April, 2018, from https://asmruniversity.com.