Twitch, as the most popular video game streaming website, has its own set of celebrities both famous and infamous. Though it has rules about what can and can’t be shown on its streams—rules that were formed in response to complaints from viewers—some of its most infamous streamers are known for showing a little skin to get more viewers or incite arguments.
Some other streamers take umbrage with that. According to them, these scantily-clad girl gamers are stealing their viewers and making the community look bad, encouraging the people who watch the streams to demand the same of other female streamers and pulling in viewers that might otherwise be watching other streams.
‘Dear Female Streamers’ Ignites an Important Conversation
This is a debate that’s been raging on since the first girl to dared show cleavage on Twitch. Critics claim they only get viewers for their willingness to show off their body rather than their gameplay skills, and others claim that they aren’t doing any harm, as they are within the website’s code of conduct.
Enter Sky Williams. Williams, a popular League of Legends streamer on Twitch, recently released a YouTube video called “Dear Female Streamers,” in which he explains his view of the girl gamers that use their feminine wiles to lure in “horny nerds.” Williams claims that the female streamers whose overlays are predominantly their bodies are hurting other women, as the Twitch community responds to them with insults and sexually charged language whether they’re one of the controversial streamers or not.
Williams goes on to say that the streamers that flirt and imply they’ll date or show other kinds of favoritism (generally of a sexual nature) are manipulating men and, by allowing the responses they do, contributing to the lack of female streamers as sexual comments and harassment spill over into other women’s streams. He does place some blame on the men who actually do the harassing, but his emphasis remains on the girl gamers who earn money by showing their bodies while playing games.
In a follow-up video, Williams clarified that he took more issue with the people who emphasize something other than the gameplay in their streams, as that’s what Twitch is for. He says that he never meant to imply that women need to cover up and asserted again that both men and women can do better in the community, and that “playing the game” is all well and good, but that lying to and manipulating the audience—whether that be through implying a donation will earn you a date or by pretending to be in a wheelchair—is a real and terrible problem in the community.
Female Streamers Fight Back
Williams probably didn’t mean to incite a gender argument, and he apologizes in his second video for his failure to communicate his real point—that manipulation is wrong and detrimental to the entire Twitch community.
The issue is that these girl gamers are still taking the brunt of the blame when it comes to the issue of “manipulating” audiences. Though he does cite other instances of manipulation, blaming women for their own harassment is nothing new in the industry, as many female Twitch streamers pointed out. Whether a woman is wearing a turtleneck or a tank top with a plunging neckline, some jerk in the stream is going to ask her to take her top off and call her names when she refuses, and that’s not the fault of the streamer.
Scarletr0se, one streamer who doesn’t do these so-called “Booby Streams,” wrote a lengthy response to Williams’ video in which she says that she used to feel the same way—that women showing skin on Twitch was manipulation and was stealing views from legitimate streamers—until she realized those emotions were a result of her own insecurity. Kaceytron, a Twitch streamer known for her low-cut shirts and troll-baiting persona, also pointed out the hypocrisy in blaming “Booby Streamers” for the harassment of other women rather than the people who do the harassment in the first place.
Scantily-Clad Girl Gamers Are Not the Problem
Twitch’s code of conduct is pretty clear on the issue: self-destructive behavior (including drinking excessively for viewers), wearing sexually suggestive clothing (lingerie, pasties, underthings), and streams of activities that aren’t one of the clearly defined things in Twitch’s rules aren’t allowed. Viewers have the right to report them, and should—it’s a misuse of the platform.
But for streamers who aren’t breaking the rules—even female streamers in low-cut shirts who put on a flirtatious persona—there’s no reason to make a fuss. Yes, lying about being in a wheelchair to make money is deceptive and awful behavior that shouldn’t be encouraged, but girls in tank tops? Let’s have a little faith in men; most of them probably know that a $5 donation to a scandalously dressed streamer isn’t going to earn them a date. Flirting is fun. Provided it’s not in flagrant denial of Twitch’s rules, what’s the harm?
While Williams’ video might not have been intended to critique girl gamers as harshly as it felt, it still plays into the idea that women are seeking attention for what they do. Some women wear low-cut tops and like to play games, and if they’re going to get harassment no matter what they do, is it wrong to own it and make it work for them? It might feel like manipulation as their views skyrocket while other streams struggle to find viewership, but if they’re not breaking the rules, they’re not breaking the rules.
Many might not like it, but it’s true. Most popular streamers get views thanks to personality and humor, not flaunting their cleavage. And yes, it might happen on occasion, but blaming women for their own harassment is doing nothing to solve the problem. Report it if you see someone breaking the rules, but move on with your life—scantily clad female streamers are not quite the scourge some members of the Twitch community seem to think they are.