Hawk Tuah Girl, explained by straight dudes (2024)

The “Hawk Tuah Girl” has been called “the most famous person on the planet right now” on Joe Rogan’s podcast. That might be debatable, but she must at least be the most famous person in recent memory who gained notoriety because of onomatopoeia.

The Hawk Tuah Girl (which is not her real name, or even a particularly accurate description of her phase of life) has gone extremely viral over the last week, thanks to a video featuring her evocative description of oral sex. But she’s largely known by one demographic: straight men. In a completely informal and totally incomplete survey of the Vox staff, her existence had reached a cross-section of heterosexual males, while others around the office had absolutely no idea what the discourse was about. And boy, did that make things weird.

Because I myself am a Hawk Tuah Girl newb, I asked her main audience to help me explain the phenomenon. As her rise to fame involves both innuendo and sound effects, Vox gave these straight men anonymity so they could speak candidly and freely.

And it turns out whether or not you know who Hawk Tuah Girl is can say a lot about you, your algorithm, and how online you are, not to mention what internet fame actually means, and to whom.

Who is Hawk Tuah Girl and how did she get famous?

Before she became known as Hawk Tuah Girl, Hawk Tuah Girl was known as Hailey Welch. But Welch’s destiny was forever altered when she appeared in a girl-outside-a-bar video from creators Tim & Dee TV. These kinds of videos — usually involving beautiful women who may or may not be slightly inebriated — are a subset of the bigger “TikToker talks to people on the street” genre.

In the video, Welch is asked, “What’s one move in bed that makes a man go crazy every time?”

“You gotta give ’em that ‘hawk tuah’ and spit on that thang,” Welch says, laughing. “You get me?”

It’s in this moment that Welch’s perfect onomatopoeia eclipses whomever she may be. Her interior life, her desires, her fears, her being — it all fades away because she’s produced such a rich and accurate sound effect for a specific kind of fellati*.

Hailey Welch is no longer. Hawk Tuah Girl is born, and the people love Hawk Tuah Girl.

She was hailed as a hero, revolutionary, and the It girl of the moment. Hawk Tuah was memed and mimicked, and people were seeing Hawk Tuahs everywhere now that Hawk Tuah girl had opened their eyes to the Hawk Tuahs around them. There were also, as the Cut notes, some inaccurate reports that she’s been fired from her job but internet users were quick to point out the misinformation and protect her young legacy. The lore of Hawk Tuah Girl grew and grew.

Chad, a straight man who works in crypto-adjacent finance, told me that he first encountered the video last Wednesday or Thursday. Friends were sending him the video throughout the day. When asked who these friends were, he replied: “White, straight men mostly.”

“How many women sent you the video?” I asked him.

“None,” Chad said.

Despite receiving the video and links to it multiple times, Chad refrained from clicking. He tried to sit it out. He didn’t want to partake in another meme. Around the same time, Chad noticed that someone had created a “Hawk Tuah” altcoin currency to take advantage of the moment. Within hours, he said, the volatile currency was worth “tens of millions” of dollars. If finance bros are making sh*tpost currency, that’s usually a sign to Chad that perhaps the meme at hand does not warrant further examination. Perhaps thumbnails and stills would be enough to understand.

Yet, Chad eventually relented.

“To be honest, it was sort of visceral and gross,” Chad told Vox, explaining his first reaction to the video. His disgust was not with the particular sex act, but the shockingly crisp audio on a literal spit take that arguably swerves into loogie territory. “She’s just very well mic’d,” he told me.

The video made its way to George’s feed last week, too, via Instagram reels. George, a 30-year-old straight guy, didn’t have an adverse reaction to the sound the way Chad did. He thought it was funny, if not kind of charming.

“Despite finding it sort of endearing and quite funny, I thought she was fairly lit and that she would probably regret it,” George told Vox. “I did think that it would probably be at least a minor viral moment, but I had no idea it would rise to prominence so quickly.”

I asked both George and Chad if there was any reason why they thought this video caught fire so quickly. Straight men tend to be fans of both funny noises and oral sex. Conventionally attractive women saying raunchy things have long been a pop culture fascination.

Both mentioned that it was the earnestness that really stuck out. Social media is curated, to the point where even this genre of TikTokers and content creators speaking to women on a night out tends to be a trope. “Hawk Tuah” was a moment that didn’t feel like that.

“It was an innocent moment of total honesty, probably,” Chad said. “She was, or seemed to be, unapologetically herself for two seconds.”

Cameron, a self-described “too-online” straight man, put it more simply — asking me to consider Occam’s razor.

“You’re asking me why did the attractive young woman talking about oral sex, and how it’s her favorite thing, and the answer to every problem go viral?” he said. “Straight men are exactly what you think they are … I don’t want to pander and be like, Yeah, man, we are so stupid. But like, we are kind of.”

Will Hawk Tuah Girl be Hawk Tuah Girl forever?

A fascinating facet of Hawk Tuah Girl’s rise to fame is that there were still people who hadn’t yet heard of her. Anecdotally speaking, the divide in my personal and professional life was, as of Monday morning, straight guys knew everything about her, and people who weren’t straight guys needed more of an explanation.

Perhaps that’s because while the internet has seemingly made the world smaller, there are still pockets and mini internet worlds that — by cookies, by algorithm, by interests — we’re not privy to.

Cameron, the very online guy who is probably online this very second, mentioned another internet heroine called Oilers Girl. Oilers Girl (not her real name) flashed the crowd during the NHL playoffs and went viral in what he calls the “Barstool internet” but may not have breached the mainstream masses. (“Barstool” for Barstool Sports, the long-running digital media company founded by Dave Portnoy, known for their ardent fanbase and intentionally crass culture.)

“Oilers Girl and Hawk Tuah Girl — they're the Chappell Roan and Charli XCX of straight guy internet right now,” Cameron told me, trying to speak a language we both knew. Cameron didn’t know how to pronounce Chappell Roan, but this is when it clicked for me, and I no longer felt like I was speaking to an alien.

It’s the idea that stuff on the internet and on social media can feel so inevitable and inescapable to you and not even register as a blip to a different audience. As small as the internet seems to be and as seemingly connected as we are, it’s hard to know these days how big a thing really is. Whether it’s Hawk Tuah Girl, Oilers Girl, or a “let’s work it out on the remix” joke, the relative size of a meme is harder to perceive because of how divided our different internets are. It seems like algorithms and “For You” pages have gotten so good at catering to specific individuals, that the result is a lack of perspective.

What this all means for the actual woman behind the meme remains to be seen.

Perhaps Hawk Tuah Girl will soar even higher, get even more famous. According to the New York Post, she has already sold some $65,000 worth of Hawk Tuah Girl merchandise, and there are rumors that she’s signing with a Hollywood agency. Unlike so many main characters of the internet, Hawk Tuah Girl seems primed to monetize her attention.

But as she becomes more recognizable, her audience changes too.

Seeing her popularity and the opportunity to be weird, social media clout grifters are attempting to turn Hawk Tuah Girl into a right-wing martyr. And groans and side eyes have already begun, new haters declaring that Hawk Tuah Girl isn’t that funny now that they actually know what Hawk Tuah is all about.

The bigger her celebrity, the less Hawk Tuah Girl exclusively belongs to the straight guy internet bubble. The rise, triumph, and seeming denouement of this hero have happened in about a week. Next week we might not be talking about her at all, and perhaps we will have found a new main character with a new bit. But for now, when she asks, “You get me?”, well, a lot of people really, really do.

Hawk Tuah Girl, explained by straight dudes (2024)
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