Fitness influencer Joey Swoll first went viral for critiquing a woman for calling out a man at the gym.
Since then, he's made several other videos critiquing women for doing the same, and calling men "creepers."
Many have championed him as a hero, although some are worried he's fueling misogyny online.
Last month, fitness influencer Joey Swoll went viral for defending a male gym patron that TikToker Jessica Fernandez called a"weirdo" for making glances at her. Swoll's call-out prompted Fernandez to apologize for her own call-out.
Since then, Swoll, who brands himself as the "CEO of gym positivity," has made multiple other videos denouncing women for calling certain men creepy at the gym. Many have celebrated him for what they believe is shutting down shaming behavior on social media, but some say he's fueling misogyny online.
Last week, the fitness TikToker, who has 6.4 million followers, reposted another TikTok a woman shared of a man who appeared to be staring at her and a friend in the gym.
"This man does nothing wrong," Swoll said in his response video. "There is a huge difference between staring at somebody and being a gym creep, and simply glancing or looking at somebody. His video has amassed over a million views.
In another video he posted over the weekend, Swoll calls out another woman for filming an older man at her gym and calling him a "creeper." The video, which has been viewed over 5 million times, is captioned, "You never know someone's story or what they're going through. Stop this."
Commenters have cheered on Swoll for supposedly exposing these women, and there's been an onslaught of posts online calling Swoll a "hero" and a "legend."
"This is someone's dad :(" one commenter wrote about the more recent video. Most of the comments are celebrating that the original poster deleted her account after she was called out by Swoll.
However, despite the fanfare, there's a growing wave of backlash to Swoll's videos as well. People are questioning why he's only targeting women posters (although he has also called out men for gym behavior). The dissenting discourse has blown up so much that it's starting a larger conversation about when it's OK for men to pass glances at men at the gym — and at what point should women feel threatened enough to pull their phones out to film them. The discourse has grown so large that people are even making jokes about it on Twitter.
"Caught a guy glancing at me at the gym. Smiled at him. He smiled back. We both went back about our business… harmless behaviour," fellow influencer Vanessa Sierra wrote.
Some users don't find the matter funny at all. His critics believe his fans are using the influencer's content to spread misogynistic rhetoric, like blaming unwelcome glances on how a woman chooses to dress at the gym. They're also worried that his call-outs will fan potential violence against women who feel threatened and choose to pull their phones out to collect evidence.
Joey Sw*ll is building a platform on the idea that women can’t be trusted in gyms because they’re hysterical/vain. His qts are full of incels calling women misogynistic slurs which he doesn’t address. The way this ends is someone feels entitled to attack a woman at the gym.
— do it look like i got left off bad and boujee? (@SimplyAYT_) February 3, 2023
He's also drawn criticism for the way he parachutes into videos without much context and exposes less popular creators to his audience of millions. People also think he unfairly frames videos to discredit the women in them. Regardless of where one might stand in the discourse, his videos have fueled intense adverse reactions about gym culture. Some fans are even asking to segregate gyms or outright ban women from them.
Swoll did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Insider.
But like all discourses that reach a fever pitch online, it's also spawned a microgenre of meme TikToks where people are laughing about the absurdity of it all.
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