Lizzo And Colleen Ballinger: We Need To Talk About Female-Perpetrated Sexual Harassment

This particularly uncomfortable topic is taboo for a reason.

Lizzo and Colleen Ballinger soupstock via Canva | genkur via Canva | Lizzo via Adam McCullough / Shutterstock | Colleen Ballinger via Instagram @Mirandasingsoffical

As long as you’re not living under an Internet-free rock, you’ve probably heard about the recent scandals in the entertainment industry that are shedding light on female creators allegedly engaging in sexual harassment.

The two entertainment industry leaders most notably under fire for sexual misconduct allegations are YouTuber Colleen Ballinger (a.k.a. "Miranda Sings") and seemingly body-positive pop powerhouse Lizzo.


At this point, the scandals with Lizzo and Ballinger have mushroomed beyond "tea" or celebrity gossip. At the core, these are the stories of individuals who have been traumatized by another individual they once idolized — or at least respected professionally. 

As someone who has experienced sexual harassment perpetrated by women, my heart goes out to those doing the hard work of coming forward about these experiences. Although it’s a difficult conversation for the online community, it’s necessary.

The #MeToo movement is not just for cis women who’ve been harmed by cis men. It’s for folks of all genders to share their stories regardless of the gender of their alleged perpetrator.


RELATED: The Actual Definitions Of Sexual Assault & Harassment (For People Who Think The Rules Have Changed)

The Lizzo and Colleen Ballinger situations, explained

In case you missed it, several of Lizzo’s former dancers have expressed that she allegedly put them in inappropriate situations and sexually harassed them. In addition to claims of sexual harassment, the dancers have filed a lawsuit for other problematic behavior like religious discrimination, discrimination based on an employee’s medical condition, and fatphobia

While there’s a lot to unpack in the Colleen Ballinger scenario, the most troubling highlights include the entertainer grooming young fans through a group chat, having a minor work for her for free, and exposing a minor to Trisha Paytas’ NSFW photos. While these are all alleged, the evidence survivors have shared online is compelling.


To add insult to injury, Colleen Ballinger released an infamous apology video reducing her accuser’s complaints to "the toxic gossip train" while singing and playing a ukelele. The demonstration of poor taste didn’t sit well with me or the wider Internet community.

Because of my ethics, I’m inclined to believe the survivors. After all, what would any of them have to gain by going public with a painful, potentially embarrassing story? By sharing their names and traumatic accounts, they open themselves up to rejection from future employers who may (unfairly) see them as a liability.

RELATED: Lizzo's Harassment Allegations Show How 'Hurt People Hurt People' — And There's No Excuse

They’re going up against someone with more money, power, and fame than they have collectively. The vulnerability and risk convince me that they speak their truth. Whether it will hold up in court is a separate conversation.


I’m not here to judge the situation from a legal standpoint. As a random writer on the internet, I’m not qualified for that task. Instead, I would like to use these current entertainment events to kickstart a dialogue about supporting survivors of female perpetrators of sexual misconduct and abuse. 

People who do some good can also harm others.

While this might seem like common sense, it’s a rough pill for many to gulp down. When folks come forward about abusers, others often leap to defend the abuser if they have a positive impression of them. They may cry, "...but that person is so nice/funny/cool/(insert trait here)!" in protest. It’s as if people can only be one-dimensional beings with mutually exclusive good qualities or bad qualities in their minds. 

One common thread that survivors of abuse discuss is this duality. Many survivors/victims claim that their abuser behaved one way publicly while presenting an entirely different version of themselves behind closed doors.


Their "public persona" may be an intentional facade or an expression of some genuine traits and values they hold in some settings. No matter how intentional their separation of public and private behaviors is, we don’t always know who people are — even if we like what they present to us on the surface. 

RELATED: Woman Searches For Family Of Little Girl She Saw Being Hurt By A Nanny At The Nashville Zoo

We need gender-inclusive sexual harassment training.

To me, this isn’t a gendered issue. It’s a power imbalance issue.

The dancers at that strip club were at a clear disadvantage compared to Lizzo in terms of power. Most of my previous sexual harassment training featured storylines of a stereotypically chauvinistic man making lewd comments to female employees. But the reality is that sexual harassment doesn’t always look like this. 


The most harmful type of sexual harassment, in my book, is the kind that slips under the radar because it doesn’t register under our cultural narratives. This is the type of problem that leaves you feeling uncomfortable yet powerless. It makes it hard to speak out because you don’t have the words to communicate the issue.

To magnify the pain, our friends, family, and even HR may not have the nuanced lens to evaluate the situation properly. This lack of information can lead to invalidation and further trauma when you seek support. In cases where a woman is sexually harassing other women, the circumstances defy the cultural narrative — but that doesn’t make it any less painful or real for those experiencing the misconduct. 

RELATED: 3 People Share 'Disturbing' Childhood Experiences With Colleen Ballinger Amid Backlash From The Miranda Sings Era

This issue goes far beyond Hollywood.


Lizzo isn’t the first celebrity employer who treated her employees in demeaning and potentially illegal ways. Additionally, Colleen Ballinger is far from alone in using a platform geared toward children to groom them. They, unfortunately, won’t be the last people with money and power to abuse those privileges.

While I feel for those who work under conditions like those created by Lizzo in the entertainment industry, I admit they feel removed from my mostly blue-collar community. 

As someone who could classify as a "working class" American, I’m not thinking about employees in the entertainment industry. I’m thinking about the girl whose manager at a fast-food restaurant groped her. In response, coworkers suggested she "stay away" from that manager for the rest of her time there. I’m reflecting on the trauma caused by the female non-profit supervisor who allegedly sexually harassed a former acquaintance. 

Most of all, I’m thinking about the complicated dynamic that occurs when women with bawdy humor get too comfortable "joking around" with subordinates. If I can’t tell a supervisor that he/she/they made me feel uncomfortable for fear of losing my job or missing out on future opportunities, that’s a problem, period. And it could happen to any of us.


RELATED: Teen Girl Fined For 'Wasting Police Time' By Reporting Her Stalker — Then He Murdered Her

Regardless of the outcome of these lawsuits and scandals, it should prompt us to talk about sexually inappropriate behavior among women and allow survivors to shed light on their truth — even if it doesn’t fit our standard cultural narrative around trauma.

Celebrity gossip has a funny way of opening up cultural conversations. The present legal battles with Lizzo and Colleen Ballinger are no different. 


This particularly uncomfortable topic is taboo for a reason. Despite the discomfort, survivors/victims should know that we hear them and welcome them to share their experiences. Most importantly, we validate them. Moving forward from these eye-opening events, that’s what I hope we can achieve.

RAINN reports that every 68 seconds, an American is a victim of sexual violence. Females are far more likely to be abused and assaulted, and 90% of victims who are adults are women. This is especially prevalent among women who also happen to be college students, which makes their risk three times greater.

Anyone affected by sexual assault can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, a safe, confidential service.

Contact The Hotline or call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member.


RELATED: Here's Why It's Hard To Recognize Sexual Assault In The Workplace

Maya Strong is a writer who has spent the last six years blogging about relationships, LGBTQIA+, mental health, lifestyle, and cultural commentary online.