Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

For the past few days, popular Twitch broadcasters and their audiences have been embroiled in a heated debate. The topic? Women streamers and whether they should -- or shouldn't -- be showing skin on stream.

Now, it should be noted that Twitch has a pretty strict dress code policy already, so it's not like people can strip while they stream. I mean, I guess they could remove a jacket or a glove or a salacious ankle-revealing sock or something, but naughty bits are a no-go.

However, some people still believe that some women streamers rely more on flashing flesh -- for instance, by wearing tank tops or other cleavage-revealing articles of clothing -- than competitive skill or critique or in-game gags or what have you. Over the past few days, that's all come to a head.

OK, so why is this suddenly such a big thing?

In truth, tensions have been quietly running high for a while now. However, the lit match in the proverbial powder keg was a video by popular Smash Bros and League of Legends streamer Sky Williams. Its title? "Dear Female Streamers." It's gotten more than 430,000 views since it was posted.

In it, Williams argued that women who don't cover up -- who use Twitch overlays that focus more on their physical characteristics than games -- are trading credibility for popularity, for easy hits from horny dudes. In doing so, he claimed, they aren't just hurting themselves, but all women streamers.

"You're benefiting yourself at the cost of condemning your own gender," he said. "If another female is streaming, playing in non-provocative attire with her attention on the game, she will be subject to the same torment that you get when you just flaunt your body... You are creating a standard for the female streamers that want to continue."

He also implied that skin-showing women streamers are partially responsible for continued online harassment of women, claiming that their behaviour encourages people to keep saying stuff like, "show ur boobs" to any women streamers they might come across.

"The women who don't do this get made fun of, get called names," Williams said. "It makes them not want to stream, and that sucks."

After that, others on Twitter and Twitch picked up the torch to further argue that some women are stealing the lion's share of Twitch popularity with cheap tactics, not real skill or entertaining shows. It's worth noting that Williams didn't really try to say this, but it became a big part of the ensuing argument nonetheless.

Huh. So why all the backlash?

While Williams is far from alone in holding the opinion he voiced, many people -- both women and men -- strongly disagreed. It's at this point that people took to Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and the like to lob a million different verbal bombs. Things got nasty. Williams was accused of slut-shaming, making women feel bad for doing anything that doesn't conform to social norms. He claimed that he didn't intend to come off that way, but others pointed out that intentions and outcomes are very different things. The argument went back and forth from there:

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

OK, but what about women streamers who've been accused of this stuff? What do they have to say?

The aforementioned debate popped up on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, and other corners of the Internet, all of which culminated in a live show featuring prominent women streamers Kaceytron (who satirizes many of the things Williams critiqued, but still encourages women to dress and promote themselves as they please), Lolrenaynay, and Dodger, along with Twitch admin and manager of Survivor GameZ ShannonZKiller. Here is that discussion, in its entirety:

They covered numerous topics, largely focusing on what it's like to actually be a woman streamer. It's an enlightening chat, and I encourage listening to all of it if you've got a couple hours. However, here are some of the key arguments they made:

  1. As long as they're following Twitch's rules, women should be able to do what they want with their bodies. Some women have big boobs. Deal.
  2. Specific women, regardless of how they choose to dress, do not inherently speak for or represent all women. They can do what they want, and that should not suddenly condemn all other women.
  3. Some people want woman streamers who show a little skin, just as some people want dude streamers who are pros, or who suck at games but tell jokes, or who yell a lot, or who have cool voices, or who play music, or who pretend to be drunk, or what have you. Streaming is rarely just about games. There's almost always a hook.
  4. Scantily (ish) clad women aren't actually taking over Twitch. Right now only 8 of the top 100 streamers on Twitch are women.
  5. If all you do on Twitch is show skin, you're doomed to sink to the bottom, same as anybody else with a one-note gimmick. Yeah, you might get a thousand-viewer boost when you first start, but they will go away before long unless there's substance to back it up.

What happened next? Was that the end of it? Did everyone agree to disagree and then go get ice cream?

Hardly. This is the Internet, remember? Williams and those who share his opinions refused to back down, which led to a debate during one of his League of Legends streams. This time, it was Williams and SivHD vs Kaceytron and Destiny. After a little while, YouTuber Totalbiscuit jumped in to moderate.

Much of the discussion rehashed points that were made in previous videos and discussions, but Williams tried to reframe what he was saying, to clarify what he said was his actual position versus what people took away from it. In short, he explained that he didn't intend to argue that women streamers should never show cleavage. Rather, he wanted to argue against it being done in a manipulative manner, same as if, for instance, a dude faked crying on stream to get attention or subscribers or money. He added, however, that he thinks using physical features -- boobs, butt, whatever -- is still a little worse, especially if your audience is young.

OK, so now it's over, right? And there's ice cream this time?

Nooooope. But people have distilled down their main points, both in words and actions. Many women streamers have added "boob" to their Twitter handles to show solidarity in not being ashamed of their physical features, nor of people who use them as they please. That's backed up by tweets like this one, from YouTuber and streamer Natalie Casanova:

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

Meanwhile, YouTuber Jesse Cox weighed in on Twitter with this particular nugget of perspective:

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

Others, however, still disagree, and the debate is ongoing. Cases in point:

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

Meanwhile, other discussions have blossomed from this one -- for instance, why aren't there more popular women on Twitch in general? Why aren't more women present in competitive gaming? Where is all of this breaking down?

Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin

What's happened over the past few days is a boiling point, a standout moment in a discussion that's been simmering for years now. So long as different expectations are placed on women than on men in various gaming spaces, it will continue. Still, this whole thing was indicative of where many people are at with this topic right now, and that's important. Snapshots aren't encyclopaedias or history books, but they still speak volumes all the same.


Comments

    Same old bullshit. Man feels his space is being threatened or "tainted" by women. Speaks out. Looks like a douche. Starts an internet riot. I long for the day when this sort of crap is no longer an issue. So, so sick of hearing about issues centered around male privilege and entitlement.

      Same reaction from you to be honest though. Both sides have extremely valid point. What needs to be understood is that by acting in certain ways you're targeting certain audiences. Both sides seem to gloss over this point. However, the issue comes when each side draws the target audience of the other expecting the behaviour of the other. A woman should have the right to flaunt her body (as a man should) if she wants or she should have the right to hide her body (as a man should) if she wants. Noone has the right to tell you what to do.

      But noone has the right to tell you 'show us your tits'. It's where it gets a bit dodgy. Condemning someone for being proud of their body is ridiculous, but chastising someone for being irritated at the on-flow of your actions, is too, ridiculous.

      The fact is, both should actually be looking where the responsibility lay: The viewer. They're the person who should be taking responsibility. The stupidity of saying 'show us your tits' for example? These morons are the problem, these morons are causing the issue at heart.

      These morons are not going to go away. That's the sad truth.

        I really cant up vote you enough weresmurf! its one of those damn if you and damned if you dont issues

          Just a pity one particular person there doesn't seem to think it's a womans right to decide for herself what she does with her body. What an archaic way of thinking.

        Came here pretty much to say that the problem is with viewers, if they want that... Or demand that then we need to change how the act.

        But you covered that all already so I'll just mosey out.

        So, maybe about August last year I was watching someones stream while I was playing Halo: Reach. Not because I was interested, because they were in a party of 4 solely to lolstomp the remaining population and wanted to check when they were searching so that I could avoid them.

        During the stream, the owner was knocking back a few with her boyfriend, one of their friends jumped into a LoL stream and told everyone If they switched to her stream she'll go topless. Suddenly her viewers went up and everybody was harassing her to flash her tits.

        Eventually (possibly because she was drunk) she flashed the camera. Seconds later someone posted a screenshot that freaked her out. Minutes later, her channel was banned.

      I would argue that you're missing the point. Streaming Is a very male dominated space, which for the record Sky Williams does not do very often apart from appearing in friends streams. Most of the prominent women who get the most viewers when streaming have suggestively placed cams and favour viewer interaction over the game and gameplay. While I don't have problem with this, do you want this to be the standard, the norm when a female chooses to stream, the girl just starting streaming in the hope of getting some viewers but doesn't have the social skills or confidence to compete with them but is exceptionally good at games?

      This is just what I'm getting from this whole ordeal.

      Actually I think @weresmurf put what I was trying to say a better way but I'll leave this here anyway.

      Last edited 21/03/15 1:10 pm

      I don't see this as an issue of entitlement or privilege, it's an issue of people trying to push their particular brand of morality onto other people. Gender isn't really the issue, it's the use of sexually suggestive appearance or behaviour conflicting with some people's moral codes. Male streamers who use sex to manipulate their (generally young) female fanbase come under just as much fire; it just doesn't usually get reported on because that type of criticism is a daily occurrence for them and they don't care.

        "Male streamers who use sex to manipulate their (generally young) female fanbase come under just as much fire"

        The stupidity of this statement fills me with delight

          Why do you find that statement stupid? I gather you've never actually seen the backlash that type of streamer gets. Moral sensibilities about sex are mostly religiously driven, prudery and misapplied puritanism don't care much for gender.

          Last edited 02/04/15 9:11 pm

      Yee female paradox, their never wrong.

    As obvious and cheap it is to get views showing some skin it twitch wouldn't dare enforce and rules, who rememberes that "boobs in a thumbnail" vid by pewdiepie? Pretty much some it up lol

    Surely the people who would choose to view a female gamer just because she might have some skin showing are the only losers here, right? Female streamers shouldn't be shamed for dressing how they like on a stream, if people are so shallow as to only watch it only because that gets them off, they're probably not the audience the streamer is seeking anyway. Imposing more rules on dress code might deter some douchebags from watching, but would also limit the freedom of the streamer.

    If I was a buff male with massive muscles on a stream in a singlet would people be upset I was stealing viewers from legitimate streamers? Probably not.

    All i know is, im thankful i dont watch any letsplays/twitch streams.

    It is not new. 'GirlGamers' using their bodies to get views has been going on for years. Many of them sit around talking to their viewers more often than playing games. There is a market for everything right?

    I don't think it is a bad at all, view what interests you. But ever since Anita Sarkeesian and her followers spent a good amount of time making men feel miserable, you know with the entire 'suggestive' nature of gaming and its influences on society, it is nice to see some dirt can be thrown back at those who think they can do whatever they like without receiving the same critical analysis.

    All in all. Using sexuality to get views is extremely immoral, I don't see how it is morally acceptable to exploit teenagers for donations and ad-views. Yes the entertainment industry is filled with showman ship, except the majority of that is aimed at our interests not our hormones.

    Last edited 21/03/15 1:33 pm

    This is one of those times that males need to a shut their mouths as there is no "right" discussion topic.

    Girls should cover up = Slut shaming
    Girls can show as much skin as they want = Perversion

      I wonder myself at the contradictory reactions. If a guy thinks "man chicks feel oppressed with all the scantily clad women in media, so I should discourage it when I see it" they get told they're sexist whether or not they speak up about it... there really is no winning.

        "The only winning move is not to play."

        But really, it's not the place of anyone to declare offence on someone else's behalf. People can speak for themselves and it's important we make sure everyone has a voice and at least a base level of respect when using that voice.

        We should be defending people's right to be heard, not stealing their agency by making decisions for them.

          People can speak for themselves and it's important we make sure everyone has a voice and at least a base level of respect when using that voice.

          Oh how I wish this was still true. Take the recent DC Batgirl cover controversy; it's a prime example about how "everyone has the right to be heard" is no longer accepted by society at large anymore. We've gone from society of free expression where everyone can share opinions openly to a more oppressive and controlled system of "free expression" (as long as no one objects and you stay away from topics to do with gender & race specifically) where if your opinion is not in line with the vocal "majority" then you get hounded and talked down to till you either submit or just ejected.

            All the more reason we need to defend people's right to be heard, including the right of the artist and DC to express themselves with that cover. In my opinion the cover should have been allowed. People had the right to criticise it, but I don't believe they had the right to demand its removal. The correct response to something existing that you don't like is to not partake in it, not to remove its existence.

            Last edited 22/03/15 8:19 am

      How is saying girls should have the freedom to show skin if they feel comfortable perversion? If you- the viewer- is offended, just watch something else. I am of the opinion that viewers speak more than anything else and if a streamer does something that doesn't align with your views, just not watching them will make your opinion have more of an impact, instead of going into archaic debates that only go further to make men and women less equal than they should be. I won't watch Anita Sarkeesian because I find her views, opinions, and methods offensive to equality

        How is saying girls should have the freedom to show skin if they feel comfortable perversion?

        Allow me to answer this as the rest of your post was just unneeded drivel.
        If I, a male, say that females should be allowed to show all the skin they want; then the people who would call the first sentence about putting on clothes "slut shaming" would be calling me a pervert because by endorsing female freedom when it comes to clothing choices, I'm someone who is in turn saying that I want to see skin/boobs/etc, which they consider "sexist" and that I'm "treating a woman as a sex object".

        The two sentences I posted are a very simplistic example of the "no win scenario" that this topic brings. You say one thing, your oppressive and "Slut Shaming" and if I do the opposite, I'm perverted and "treating a woman as a sex object".

          And I say to that: I completely disagree with both sides. If i find content I disagree with, I remove myself from the content. I've learned before that voicing an opinion on the internet that leans to one side more often than not leads to a shitstorm that everyone would be better off not having in the first place.

            I think mase's point is that you can't remove yourself. Absence of action (eg. not taking a side) is an action in itself, and one that is usually seen as taking the wrong side by all sides involved. Absence of action doesn't remove you from the equation, it just removes your direct influence over it.

              But I can't say both sides are acting like total Dicks, which they are if you ask me

    Women aren't really represented in competitive play because there aren't enough who are good enough... If you can play at the top level, teams will want you, you will get sponsors and you can enter competitions, e.g. Scarlett in SC2.

      Not sure why you were downvoted but thats my opinion as well. These days you can pretty much completely hide your identity online and if you're good enough you'll get noticed regardless of gender.

      Do those that downvoted think that women are intentionally being held back in some way?

      Curious...

        I wasn't even venturing an opinion on the streaming aspect. Just the last paragraph or so which suddenly turned to competitive gaming.

        I don't give the slightest shit about whether a competitive gamer is male or female. If they're fucking good I will be happy to watch them play. Sex has NOTHING to do with it.

    over-sensitive and over-privileged male nerds are so fucking annoying.

      Literally it all boils down to "The only reason she's getting more viewers than me is because she has boobs! That's unfair. Women should cover up" shut the fuck up goddamn just because a bunch of (male) assholes think that women don't have merit in a video-gaming environment they think they have the right to tell women to "cover up" so that men can not be distracted by the ridiculously tiny amounts of skin they're showing and pay attention to the REAL valuable streamers: Men. Goddamn. How about instead of trying to shame women for having skin you fucking grow up and learn that the only person who can stop a man getting distracted by perfectly normal women showing perfectly normal amounts of skin is himself.

    So much victim and slut shaming. Seriously, this "fake nerd grrl" mentality needs to go die in a fire already.

    Why is a majority of this argument ignoring the actual villains of this topic? Why are the girls being fired at and having to defend themselves when it's poorly behaved horny nerds who are the actual problem?

    Why not make long videos and posts condemning the shitty behaviour of the audience?

    Here's the solution. Nerdy girls continue to stream with or without their skin showing ... and guys just respect women. How is this rocket science?

    Last edited 22/03/15 1:08 pm

    A couple of years ago, a kid wanted to bring his my little pony backpack to school. The teachers banned it because of the bullying he would receive.

    This is that message. Don't be yourself and if anyone harasses you then it is your own fault for not fitting in properly.

    Messed up.

      I remember that :\ it's sad in a way because the teachers are right, but their actions were well meaning but misguided. Catering to the bastards results in a world of hurt anyhow :(

    Can someone please get these boobs off my internets???

    It offends the gods, or something. AND I CAN'T STOP LOOKING AT THEM!!*($*@!

    This is my hobby. I love to play games. I play games in my underwear. If I were to live stream me playing games, I wouldn't change that. Some girls wear low cut tops or whatever for comfort or because they like wearing them. Who the f#@k is anyone else to tell them they're not allowed to wear what they want?

    I'm fed up and pretty much over with people getting on their high horses regarding petty crap going on in my hobby. Or maybe I should join them and go around telling the girls who play in my indoor football league or volleyball and tell them to cover up as well.

    Girls can wear whatever the hell they want just like the people complaining can wear all the fedoras and longcoats that they want

      Do you honestly believe they dress like that because they feel more comfortable? Not a rhetorical question btw.

        I wouldn't know, I'm not a girl. Different people find comfort in different clothes though. It's why some people like skinny jeans, some like baggy, some people like turtlenecks, some people like loose t-shirts. It would make sense that some girls like to wear 'revealing' clothes because they're comfortable while others don't.

        It's not for anyone to judge what another person wears though as that's harassment

          But that's the whole point. People aren't complaining about what they're wearing, they're complaining about why they're wearing it.

    would people be freaking out if some buff guy was playing with out his shirt on? I watch twitch for the game, and to a lesser extent the streamer. Their voice and personality mean more to me than their appearance. If what they looked like, or the amount of skin showing is what really mattered I would just go to a different site.

      I would if it was clear he was only topless to garner views.

      Wasn't this already an issue? I thought twitch banned guys streaming topless...

    I see that mr williams is still living in the conservative sexist spectrum, where they say sexist stuff about women & prefer them to not fully express themselves, i mean when will he realise that women can wear whatever they like without being called out for it. He should grow a spine & realise that female streamers only make up only 8% of streamers & this is because of the sexism that still persists on the internet. When will they learn that it is ok for women to be into gaming & for the men to not have sexist attitudes towards them in what they perceive in their last bastion of "mens only club"

    Hang on...do ppl actually pay to watch twitch users....I only encountered twitch on the xbox one and only used it a hand full of times to see what a game is like, but have never been asked to pay anything?

      Hey Dan, I'd say they are referring to donations or subscriptions which are $4.99 a month (Not sure if it's a flat rate or varies by locale/user).

      Definitely big $$$ to be made if you have a large audience. Boobs help too, apparently.

        Hey Matt......still not sure i would pay to watch someone else play.

      Some people pay gate their streams chat to curb the twitch chat syndrome. Some make it a monthly fee and others make it a one off payment. Honestly, it weeds out 99% of the trolls, so you can understand their reasoning.

    "Specific women, regardless of how they choose to dress, do not inherently speak for or represent all women. They can do what they want, and that should not suddenly condemn all other women."

    Isn't that the #notallmen argument?

    Just to go along with this argument...why not just completely ban streamers (male and female) from recording themselves, and instead only have the gameplay be streamed? I mean, back when gaming videos were first uploaded on the net, none of it had the viewer seeing the face/portrait of the gamer. You'd be able to hear the gamer's voice, but other than that, the only judgement the viewer would be able to make would be based on the gameplay itself (unless the viewer happens to be seriously picky about the voice of the person).

      I was one of those picky voice people - Michael Jones of Ragequit/Achievement hunter. That bloody Jersey accent!

        I used to find Michael annoying, but then he grew on me and Gavin started to annoy the absolute shite out of me. Still does.

    What a pathetic species we are. I doubt evolution will ever bother with 'intelligence' on this planet once we're gone. Which probably isn't that far away.

    Why People Are Arguing About Women Streamers Showing Skin
    Hm. Prior to reading article, let me make a wild stab in the dark:

    1) Unattractive people who are WAY too serious about streaming are annoyed that pretty women are getting more attention than them.

    2) Busybodies are annoyed that pervy nerds are finding any kind of gratification in perving on women, and would prefer the nerds be starved of perv-fuel, just to spite them.

    3) Sane women are annoyed with the previous two groups of assholes telling them what to do because of their own bullshit issues.

    Let's read the article and see how close I was... Ah. Bang on. I'll just go up to the counter and collect my Internet Points (which cannot be redeemed for anything but shame).

      Can't we all just play some bloody games and get along??? God I miss the age when gaming was niche =[

        From conversations with coworkers, bar patrons, and various service industry staff, I'd say it still is niche in the grand scale of things. But because it lives on the Internet, it's easier to see the entire niche at once, which makes it look bigger than it is.

    My favourite female streamer is Jocelyn Moffett (@GISgamer). Why? Because she PLAYS GAMES AND IS HILARIOUS. She engages with her chatroom and she makes no comments about "loving" individuals for follows/subs and she doesn't jump up and down in tank tops for subs. She talks about the game, she plays the game, she is funny as f*** and is "one of the boys" with her fellow gamers / podcast hosts (ie - she isnt playing up being female or having boobs to get subs). Why don't I follow many female streamers? Because there are a fair few of them who dress up like dolls and have more focus on their physical self than the games they play. Do these women have large audiences? Usually. But so do other streaming sites that cater to the more lewd side of the internet.

    I can see how professional male streamers can get upset that their audiences are divided up with people who aren't really streaming - its more of a video chat room with a game in the background. I think he went the wrong way about it though. It is a conversation that needs to be had, but I think saying that cleavage on stream is asking for harassment is one giant step too far. Girls have boobs. Get over it internet. A girl can have boobs and cleavage can be seen but if she is streaming and actually playing the game (opposite to having a game on but being all about showing off her body) then leave her to it. Are we going to stop guys from having muscles seen on stream? If some dude was on stream showing off his muscles and not actually streaming, he would be a complete twat and would most likely ignored. But because this is the internet, with the mental age of a 13 year old boy, boobs cause drama.

    Get over it internet.

    To those who want to get on stream and show off their bodies (male or female) there are better places on the internet to do that than Twitch. Keep game streaming about the games and personalities.

    The cycle goes on. The Internet goes batshit over nothing for three days, then quietly returns to their seperate homesteads to polish their pitchforks for the next scandal. The Sun rises and falls. The water is evaporated to become clouds, and the rain falls. The clock's hands return to their old position for a fleeting moment. The cycle goes on.

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