Why the rise of the 'YouTube Boyfriend' is changing stereotypical gender roles

A few years ago, the world was made privy to the rise of the ‘Instagram Husband’, a viral video poking fun at the husbands and boyfriends who will go to extremes to get that perfect shot for their Instagram famous partners. Instagram famous enough, that they can make a living out of documenting their lifestyle on social media. Recently though, a slightly different trend has come to fruition and that is the rise of the ‘YouTube Boyfriend’.

At a time when the entertainment industry is pushing for female empowerment the ‘YouTube Boyfriend’ is the guy behind the scenes, editing the videos, making cameos here and there and helping to bring the brand to life. A few notable examples include Scottish makeup vlogger Jamie Genevieve and her fiancée Jack, as well as ‘In the Frow’ Victoria Magrath and her fiancée Alex. These couples are running empires together, getting work done, travelling the world and creating engaging content as they go. Similarly, there’s Busy Bee Carys, a UK fitness and lifestyle vlogger and Laura Lee, a makeup vlogger from across the pond who amongst others, rely heavily on their content creator boyfriends to help them with filming and editing their pictures and videos.

Obviously, the women are the main attraction, they are the entrepreneurs and the face of their own brand. But credit where it’s due, the men like Jack and Alex supporting these women are the unsung heroes of the YouTube generation, literally putting their girlfriends on a pedestal, taking Instagram worthy photos, flying drones to get the best shot for the vlog and accepting the fact that despite it not being their own YouTube channel, the most prominent and important moments of their life will be documented all in the name of content.

Have these couples got it all? Jamie Genevieve’s latest vlog has been filmed in Sri Lanka with ‘In the Frow’ traveling recently to Dubai and the Alps. They work together as partners, but can we really call it work? Their sponsorship deals mean they have to travel together to film abroad, staying in hotels and being sent freebies from makeup and clothing brands alike. In fact, the men behind the cameras Alex and Jack have 52.6 and 64.5 thousand Instagram followers respectively, certainly enough of a platform to branch out and create their own personal brand. So, why don’t they?

It’s simple. They’re putting their partners first. They recognise that these female social media influencers are driving their own brand, and they don’t mind working both with and for them.

Let it be clear that this is not a patronising attempt at highlighting the progressiveness of the social media generation. In fact, it’s a celebration of the fact that there seems to be an often-unnoticed equality in the partnerships between these influencer couples. However, if we look a little closer there is a modern feminism behind it all which is refreshing, and I’ll say it, still unusual in the industry they’re in, which let’s face it, is entertainment. This level of equality is inspiring and pretty rare in its innocence. The couples aren’t making a statement about what it is to be equal, they just are.

If the rise of YouTube boyfriend doesn’t say a lot about how concepts of gender roles are changing, then I don’t know what does. Here are men willing to not only work alongside and sometimes under their women, not least because it means they get to work together, using each other’s talents and creating a partnership where they both come out on top.  

[Originally published on the Huffington Post UK 30/1/19]