It seems that being a girl on Twitch automatically gives you a preference: there are a lot of female gamers with minimum experience in gaming, but with an army of followers because of their attractiveness, communicative skills, and charisma. But, there is also another side. Female streamers are highly objectified online and often face abusive attitude and harassment in chat. Every woman who decides to become a female streamer should be strong enough to withstand rudeness and biased attitude.
Gaming Is a Boys’ Club
For historical, but mostly marketing, reason, gaming is associated with men’s community. Although there are a lot of women that hold key positions in the gaming industry, gaming is still a male-dominated place. Either small or high-profile women’s streamers have one thing in common – they feel a sense of isolation. In the worst case, women online are perceived by many as pornographers and sex workers. Loserfruit, a popular Australian streamer with more than 1 million followers on Twitch, notes in one of her interviews that some male viewers mistakenly expect certain things (taking off clothes, dancing, etc.) from female streamers in exchange for donations. Indeed, many people treat females streamers as cam girls. The fact that Twitch has borrowed some features from porn websites’ architecture only enhances the perception. For example, a Twitch feature “cheers” – it’s when viewers buy animated emojis as tips and send them in chat – is similar to the “tips” and “rewards” feature on the porn website Chaturbate.
“Boobie Streamers” Stereotype
It’s insincere to say that there are no women on Twitch that capitalize on their appearance, break TOS and behave inappropriately. However, it’s unfair to discriminate against all women on the platform. A simple fact of streaming and having boobs has entitled any women to be “a boobie streamer.” It is similar to saying that all women want to be assaulted only because they go out in a short dress and have a make-up. The problem is complicated, as there are streamers that successfully utilize their sexuality in pursuit of bigger donations and fame. The truth is that even wearing a sweater with a high neck won’t save you from assaults.
The Chat on Twitch Is Very Gendered
In the recent study “Gendered Conversation in a Social Gaming-Streaming Platform”, the researchers have analyzed 200 popular female accounts and found a big difference between popular Twitch men’s and women’s chats. Women on Twitch are highly objectified. They are seen as sexual objects first. The most popular spam words in female chats include “boobs,” “pussy,” “hot,” “cute” and “smile,” while the most common words in the popular men’s chats are “points,” “winner,” “rank” and “kills.”
Tips on Being a Female Streamer
- First of all, you should figure out what kind of a streamer you want to be (gamer, musician, artist, etc.), admit your weaknesses and strengthen your advantages.
- Don’t be stuck in the mindset of “growing” your stream. Try to consider streaming as a hobby. Ignore viewer count, at least, at the beginning. Put energy into improving yourself.
- Don’t rely solely on Twitch algorithms to attract an audience. Work on your content plan, utilize YouTube, social networks and forums to get real people involved in what you do.
- Separate your Twitch account from the personal life, create a separate email social network accounts. Don’t reveal your identity and any personal information. Read more useful info on this topic in our previous post “Live Streaming: Is It Secure or Not?”
- Elaborate strict and clear rules for your chat. Even if you have literally 1 viewer in a chat, sometimes it’s better to have none than to deal with rude people.
- Have a thick skin. Be ready that people will troll you whatever you do. Twitch community is especially toxic towards female streamers. It’s a sad truth, but all that you can do is banning people that don’t represent your community.
- Remember that you don’t have to accept all abusive comments in your chat. You can set a ban for certain words and expressions, thus making some of the most common sexist remarks get automatically deleted.
- Try to gather a community of good people around you. Be attentive and interactive with a chat, have friends. Study other female streamers accounts – the good ones you want to take example by.
Despite the fact of gender discrimination on Twitch and biased attitude toward female streamers, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Twitch has increased users control over the chat activity allowing all streamers to ban unwanted followers and filter out the words’ usage in a chat discussion. Moreover, Twitch is monitoring accounts that break the rules, where people appear topless or dressing inappropriately. What all female streamers can do at the grassroots level is helping each other and banding together.