Recently there has been a lot of talk among the ASMR community on YouTube, whether or not ASMR videos have sexual connotations. These types of videos are often associated with a seductive tone of voice or erotic content, however this not true for all ASMR videos. According to the Urban Dictionary ‘the sole purpose of ASMR is to relax people’, but how different video content creators interpret the word ‘relaxation’ is highly subjective. Moreover, labeling the entire genre of online videos as erotic or even pornographic would be an unjust generalization, since there are thousands of ASMR videos that focus only on relaxing their viewers through sound and images.

What is ASMR?

In order to grasp why ASMR videos have gotten so popular, we first need to understand what ASMR is. The autonomous sensory meridian response is a subjective feeling triggered by auditive and visual stimuli, manifested by a tingling sensation in the head, neck and upper spine. Most people who have experienced ASMR describe the sensation as low-grade euphoria caused by optimistic emotions.

During the 2000s and early 2010s, a lot of different formal names for this sensation were suggested, such as the Brain Orgasm or Brain Massage. Throughout the same period, the majority of people who participated in online discussions about this topic objected that the relaxing nature of ASMR shouldn’t be mistaken for sexual arousal. However, by 2015 a fraction of the ASMR community started producing videos categorized as ASMRotica that were purposely designed to cause sexual excitement. The following year Jennifer Allen suggested the term ASMR as the name for this type of video because it offered very little room for misinterpretations.

How Are ASMR Videos Different From Any Other Type of Online Video?

Well, ASMR videos are not any different from all other videos you can find online since you still need a camera and a microphone to produce them, but ASMR video content creators often use binaural recording techniques, unlike other YouTubers. Whispering while speaking or recording low sounds produced by tapping or scratching the surface of an object are common practices among ASMR video content creators. These sounds, as well as whispering, have a tendency to make the viewer feel more calm and relaxed. There’s nothing sexual about listening to someone use different objects to produce sounds while whispering, right?

Actually, that depends on the type of objects used in a video, the general intention of a video and the viewer. It is no secret that pornography is a large industry, and it is easy to see why some ASMR video creators choose to cross the fine line between offering relaxing and calming and sexually explicit content. A microphone or a camera are just tools, and it is up to the user or the artist what the final output is going to be, a sleazy porn video or a masterful composition of images and sounds.

Why are the ASMR Videos Sexualized?

In my opinion, the main reason for the sexualization of ASMR videos is profit. Becoming a successful member of the ASMR community on YouTube requires years of hard work, and it is much easier to monetize video views by creating sexually explicit content. What’s more, ASMR videos are just a part of a much larger phenomenon since fetishization of random items, including videos can hardly be described as something new. That’s why the people who post hateful comments on ASMR videos on YouTube, don’t really understand the real problem or the true nature of these videos.

The sad fact is that almost anything can be sexualized, and some video content creators use this fact for personal gain. However, this doesn’t mean that all ASMR videos should be viewed as erotic or perverted since a large majority of them is created with the aim of calming and relaxing people. The real question that seems to elude everyone is where exactly is the line between an ASMR video and the content of erotic nature. Finding the answer to this question can help create a clear distinction between a video that aims to relax a viewer and a video that’s produced with the intent to arouse the viewer. For instance, nudity is unnecessary in ASMR videos, which makes drawing the line between these two types of videos rather easy. However, feelings are subjective, and it is quite difficult to determine what sort of sound or behavior a person can interpret as sexual.

Please be free to share your thoughts in the comment below!