Last week, Heather “HeatheredEffect” Kent, a streamer with a newborn baby, breastfed her child during a cast, and Twitch reacted by taking the clip of the breastfeeding down. Coming at a time when many women are facing difficulties on the streaming platform, the removal of the clip has sparked controversy, and some are questioning whether or not Twitch made the right call.
Following the stream in question, a fellow parent celebrated Kent's actions on a Twitch clip repository, and this did not go over well. Some commenters saw the breastfeeding as an excuse for Kent to exposer her body in exchange for views, and Twitch removed the clip the very same day. In response, Kent posted the clip to Twitter, where she questioned why the platform would react this way when a Mister Roger’s Neighborhood episode that aired on Twitch’s front page featured a far more direct take on breastfeeding.
Video game website Kotaku spoke with Kent after these events, and the streamer expressed her surprise in the face of the community's negative reaction. Indeed, breastfeeding is legal in public in all 50 states, and social media websites like Instagram allow it on feeds, and Kent suggests that the issues being raised are more about perceived use of sexualization to gain followers on Twitch than the breastfeeding itself.
Some Reddit and Twitter users, however, insist that Kent shouldn’t be surprised about the reactions to the stream. Some even claim that Kent purposely instigated this controversy with the goal of boosting her following, and they have compared breastfeeding to using the bathroom, questioning why Kent couldn’t simply step away for a short time and then return when she finished.
According to Kent, it’s not that easy, as she says that newborns need frequent attention. Furthermore, Kent feels that if she can legally feed her baby in public, then Twitch should allow it too. Despite the removal of the initial clip, it seems that Twitch may now agree with Kent, as it has stopped deleting the clips, and she has been able to continue to breastfeed her child on air.
All of this comes at a time when Twitch seems to find it increasingly difficult to take a consistent stance on controversial issues on the platform. Many feel that Twitch should be responsible for setting the boundaries on the platform, while others feel the responsibility lies with the personalities themselves. Regardless, it seems as though Kent will continue her stream without deferring to the negative reactions.