Considering the adversity that female content creators face, is it worth it for women to pursue a career on Twitch?
It seems like being a woman on the internet has already gotten you knee-deep in a pile of problems with the blatant sexism and harassment that goes unnoticed. Twitch seems to be trying to mitigate the damage, giving bans as they see fit, but some of us are noticing a certain sexist bias towards the way rules are enforced.
Twitch is lauded as one of the top streaming platforms, and for good reason too. With an average of more than 1.44 million concurrent viewers a day, you can’t deny how successful this platform is.
With streaming becoming increasingly popular, many new streamers are ready to try it out for themselves. However, women might as well be joining a battlefield by logging onto the platform. On the popular streaming website, Twitch, many have noted that the top streamers are almost all male, creating a clear “dynamic” in which you can’t help but see the rates at which men succeed and women fall behind.
If you base the “unit of success” on Twitch with the most followers, out of the top twenty-five streamers, at the time I’m writing this, twenty-one are male, two are companies, and a grand total of two are female.
Many female streamers have commented on the visible divide in following. Niki Nihachu, a variety streamer, expressed her frustrations with this after a donation asked her for advice, for new (female) streamers. For two hours she discussed this topic with her audience of ~4k people, touching on the sexualizing and harassment, that female content creators face.
She mocked the idea that females on Twitch have it easy, pointing out that the top streamers are men. “Have you seen the top streamers? It’s mostly men. If you think that females on the internet have it so much easier, please, go on Reddit. Females on the internet, are treated like shit” she said, staring directly into the camera, “It’s not normal to constantly get comments about your body, about your appearance, how “sexy” you are.”
Another grievance that the streamer touched upon was the neglect and dismissal that most female creators face; a common theme in hate messages being those that dismiss the content creator’s success, blaming it on their looks or superficial things.
“I have stopped reading my YouTube comments,” she said, noting the influx of negative comments. “People talking about my body or like the way I look,” she continued, listing complaints about being unfunny or too quiet. “I have heard these or read these comments so many times.”
Objectifying comments are nothing new, but social media platforms like Twitch can turn one, already hurtful or damaging comment into multiple, spammed in chats and comment sections, having moderators run wild, trying to stop the vitriolic hate from coming through.
Another popular Twitch streamer JustaMinx joked about the “expectations” of female content creators in a stream where she played into the “female streamer stereotype”, taking on a “sweeter” tone of voice, and wearing form-fitting clothing.
JustaMinx is a variety streamer known for her brash personality; in December, she was banned from Twitch for a week, citing “hateful slurs and symbols.”
With new words and slang flying about, it’s hard to figure out what’s a slur and what’s not, but don’t fret, Twitch has taken to telling us. With racial and homophobic slurs, like the n-word, or the f-word, unfortunately, still popping up, Twitch has decided to ban the words “incel,” “virgin,” and “simp” instead, because in their own words, “context matters”.
Confused by this turn of events, she had emailed the Twitch staff back, asking for what it was specifically she said. Twitch refused to answer her, and she and her following came to the conclusion it was because she had said the words “incel”, “virgin”, and “simp” in a stream the day before, words that were said to be bannable offenses when the new terms of services would be put in place.
While Minx being banned may be “justified” according Twitch’s terms of service (though it wouldn’t be in place until January 22, 2021), many other streamers had used identical language, or had worse “behaviour” and gotten away with a proverbial slap on the hand.
A reason that Twitch got so much backlash for this decision, is because around the same time, a Twitch streamer under the moniker “MissBehavin” had gotten nude, allegedly accidently, on stream. This behavior had gotten her a ban for 3 days.
A ban for saying “simp” (7 days) and a ban for nudity (3 days).
Twitch, harshly shutting down on language that wouldn’t be banned for another month, and giving clemency for inappropriate behaviour.
In a satirical section of her stream on her first day back, then shortened and posted into a highlight video on her YouTube channel, she said she would “become what Twitch ‘wanted’” making suggestive jokes at her own expense about the sexualizing of female streamers.
“I understand what they want from me now.” As she was talking, she had adjusted her top, in a “suggestive” way, and continued on with false sincerity, “So now that I know what they expect from me as a [. . .] woman, I’ll do better. You know? They never banned the word whore; they never banned the word slut. Incel, simp? I’m so sorry. I understand. I learned. I repent.”
Though the joke may be satirical, it is far from a lie. These insults (incel, virgin, and simp), mainly aimed at men, are considered bannable on Twitch, while homophobic, racially, and misogynistically charged words and behaviour are left with little to no intervention. Though Twitch has said that they were changing their terms of service to help women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and BIPOC/POC, many question their credibility as Twitch is still under scrutiny for banned words.
They still haven’t perma-banned the n-word or variations of it, saying that the context differs on a case-to-case basis, and if streamers want to ban the words in chat, they have to type it out themselves to blacklist it.
Other than saying that the new rules would prohibit people from, “making derogatory statements about another person’s perceived sexual practices or sexual morality.” (the rule that has gotten incel, virgin, and simp banned) the fact that they clarified insults mainly aimed at men, but not insults directed towards women, feels oddly skewed in a sense.
The media seems to love to depict women and femininely aligned people, in the way that it wants. To sit quietly and make nice, but mock them when they do. To speak out and say their mind, but ignore them at their convenience.
At the end of the day, Twitch, like the rest of modern media, is heavily steeped in sexism and bias, but they seem to be trying at least. Will they continue to help or hinder content creators? We’ll have to find out ourselves and hope that they’ll improve.
So, don’t worry internet, we hear your cries that “women have it easier on the internet”, and we’re here to tell you, no, we really don’t.