Julia Fox has apologised to a TikTok user after she made a comment dismissing his alleged sexual assault.
Earlier this week, user Connor Whipple posted a TikTok about his alleged sexual assault experience, writing, “I gave this one girl mascara one time and it must’ve been so good that she decided that her and her friend should both try it without my consent”.
“Mascara”, in this case, was used as a code word for dick, with Connor implying he was sexually assaulted by a woman and her friend after he slept with the woman.
Julia commented on the video, “idk why but I don’t feel bad for u lol”. Connor responded, “You don’t feel bad that I was sexually assaulted?”
Hundreds of TikTok users expressed their disappointment in Julia’s comment, especially given how vocal she’s been about feminism, sexism, and women’s issues on her platform.
Twitter user @_wwmhd_ wrote, “aaaaand this is why julia fox is not mother. she says so many valid things, but then turns around & says men CANNOT be victims of abuse, and now she’s straight up telling a victim of sexual assault that she doesn’t feel bad for him???? what the fuck???? this isn’t feminism!!!!!”
“Here’s julia fox telling a man she doesn’t feel bad he was SA’d in case anyone thought she was a good human still,” tweeted another user.
Many also came to Julia’s defense, noting that “mascara” is a fairly new code word for penis or dick and most TikTok users would not be aware of this term.
Others clapped back at this argument, claiming that Julia is one of the most chronically online celebrities and would likely know this slang. Connor also included the hashtag #saawareness in his caption, which stands for ‘sexual assault awareness’, so the context was obvious.
Julia has now responded to the backlash. In a video posted to her TikTok stories, the actress confirmed she did not know that “mascara” was a code word for dick.
“I saw this thing and it was like, a guy saying that he lent his mascara to a girl, and then she lent it to someone else without his consent and when I read that, I was like, ‘Damn, like, let the girls live, like don’t catch a case it’s just mascara’,” she said.
“I was not on that side of TikTok,” she finished. “I’m sorry.”
She also left a comment on Connor’s video apologising.
“Hey babe I’m so sorry I really thought u were talking about mascara like as in make up. I’m sorry that happened to you,” she wrote.
Julia’s misunderstanding has highlighted the problem with “algospeak“— a term coined to describe the coded language that internet users have been forced to create to avoid censorship from social media algorithms.
Common algospeak words include “unalive” for kill or murder, “grape” for rape, and “le dollar bean” for lesbian.
As in this particular case, using censored vocabulary can easily lead to the spread of misinformation and the minimisation of important topics. Algospeak is also ever-evolving to stay ahead of fast-learning algorithms, putting users who may not yet be aware of new terminology at risk of making harmful misinterpretations.
Julia has removed her original comment on Connor’s video. Connor has not addressed Julia’s apology at the time of writing.