The Strife of Female Streamers
As modern technology allows people to quickly connect from anywhere in the world, many ways to profit from these rapid communication technologies have arisen. One of the most popular avenues of earning money on the internet is streaming. A couple of common platforms for streaming are YouTube and Twitch. The content streamed on these platforms range from playing video games to drawing. Streaming video games is a domain dominated by men, and women who stream video games are often harassed by the viewing community and the gaming community. Why is there such a difference in the experience of male streamers and female streamers?
Old Gender Expectations in a New World
The main hurdle women have in general society is overcoming gender expectations. When women play video games, especially violent ones, some condemn them because they do not think that women should be engaging with violence. There is a stigma that video games are for lazy, uneducated people, and women are expected to be polished and productive for society. Because of this, women face a lot of sexism in the gaming community. While some games and gaming communities try to prevent sexism by banning certain language, women still experience sexism because it is impossible to completely prevent it.
More specific to modern society, women are expected to be “sexy” and present themselves in a highly feminine manner. Videogames are not considered sexy or feminine by the general public, so women who play and stream video games shock society’s expectations. In an attempt to combat women’s presence in these gaming communities, men harass the women in their games, calling them derogatory terms or making sexual remarks. Women often expect this type of behavior because it is shared among the gaming community, but men never have to concern themselves with this harassment.
Women Can’t Even Be Safe in their Communities.
Sometimes the positive comments are drowned out by negative comments and interactions. Regarding the fanbase of male and female streamers, male streamers typically have a much larger and more diverse fanbase. Male streamers are more popular because they do not have to fight for respect like women do. The male fans of female streamers can be toxic and have unrealistic expectations. For example, if a male fan donates money and requests the female streamer to change into a “cuter” outfit, he expects her to comply. However, when a female streamer denies her male fans’ wishes, some disappointed fans may turn on the streamer, calling her names and further harassing her.
“The streamer’s gender is significantly associated with the types of messages that they receive. Male streamers receive more game-related messages while female streamers receive more objectifying messages.”
Women Have Done All They Can
The unfair treatment of women on streaming platforms and within the gaming community results from poor management by the platforms in terms of enforcing their policies. Personal communities are supposed to be a safe space for creators. Still, when a female creator cannot even establish her community without the fear that toxicity will always find a way in, the hosting platforms should be held accountable. Not all is bad when it comes to female streamers trying to make it on these platforms. I believe it is becoming more common to see more female streamers and gamers and be more successful. While the growth of female communities in a world where men dominate streaming platforms is undoubtedly a positive thing, I think that the toxicity and sexism of males who are not used to females in this domain will worsen before it gets better.
Platforms should include more specific terms and conditions with a zero-tolerance policy for sexism. Even if individual creators can create their own community rules, moderators of individual communities cannot always ban those who break these community rules. Women face enough harassment in the real world, so when they enter their online community to escape from the reality, they should not be bombarded with the same sexist expectations.