Streamer's Hateful Rant Revives Debate About Women On Twitch

Image: Trainwreck.

Last week, streamer Trainwreck got handed a five-day suspension by Twitch after a video went viral featuring an incendiary rant against women streamers, in which he called them things like "god damn sluts" and accused them of stealing views from those who he viewed as more deserving streamers.

This poured gasoline on a fire that's been slowly growing ever since Twitch's non-gaming "IRL" section launched last year.

"This used to be a god damn community of gamers, nerds, kids that got bullied, kids that got fucked with, kids that resorted to the gaming world because the real world was too fucking hard, too shitty, too lonely, too sad and depressing," Trainwreck said in a voice that landed somewhere between a seethe and a roar.

As he saw it, IRL streaming made Twitch the domain of "the same sluts that rejected us, the same sluts that chose the god damn cool kids over us. The same sluts that are coming into our community, taking the money, taking the subs, the same way they did back in the day."

Twitch's enforcement of its rules is opaque. The company unilaterally refuses to comment on suspensions and bans, frequently leaving people in the dark as to why streamers get tossed in the digital slammer and, especially, the factors that contributed to the exact duration of their sentence.

This lack of information leaves room for all sorts of wild speculation, as exemplified by an incident that happened in the immediate aftermath of Trainwreck's suspension. As Polygon reports, a streamer named Nyakkj was recently caught masturbating on stream and received a brief 24-hour suspension. People were quick to compare this to Trainwreck's lengthier suspension.

"It doesn't make sense to me that you can ban somebody for a week for pointing out that Twitch allows girls to live out their cam girl fantasies," said a YouTuber named Mannix in a video on the subject, "but the women actually acting out their cam girl fantasies don't get banned, and if they do, it's only for one day."

Twitch tends to suspend streamers longer if they have previously received suspensions. Trainwreck got suspended more than a year ago for, he claims, "rating" women on his stream, which might explain his five days this time.

Or maybe not. Given Twitch's policy on talking about these things, it's impossible to be sure.

Trainwreck, though, is hardly the first streamer to express this sentiment. If you spend time in communities of popular streamers like Ice Poseidon or in larger Twitch-oriented communities like /r/LivestreamFail, you're bound to hear people echo similar ideas: women are using sex appeal to get views and subs in ways that they (if not Twitch) deem to be in violation of the service's rules, which prohibit "nudity and conduct involving overtly sexual behaviour" as well as "any content or activity involving pornography, sexual intercourse, or adult services."

The recent Trainwreck trainwreck has turned the spotlight back on tensions within the Twitch ecosystem that have been simmering on the edge of a boil for years. In 2015, for example, streamer Sky Williams kicked a hornet's nest when he argued that women who stream while wearing revealing clothing and hinge part of their drawing power on sex appeal are trading credibility for clicks and, in the process, hurting themselves and all women streamers.

At the time, a panel of prominent women streamers comprised of Kaceytron, Lolrenaynay, Dodger, and ShannonZKiller came together to take issue with Williams' comments.

Women are free to dress as they like, they pointed out, and are free to do whatever they want to get views as long as it's within Twitch's terms of service, just as men are free to yell a lot, marathon stream, dress up in costumes, or rely on any number of gimmicks for their streams.

This time around, in Chaos Year 2017, there's one key difference: Twitch now has a section called "IRL," which is dedicated to non-gaming-related pursuits. Some people use it to hang with their chat in between games, others use it for fitness content, and others use it to stream their whole day from their phone. What this means is that people are now free to stream on Twitch even if they're not playing video games at all.

This brings things back around to Trainwreck's rant, in which he put a new, hyper-aggressive spin on an ages-old idea: that spaces created for gamers are being co-opted by women who don't care about games.

The vulgarity, intensity, and rage underlying Trainwreck's video helped it go viral, but his stark declaration that women who rejected gamers and gamer culture are now taking their viewership and colonising their space is what made it resonate with the Angry Gamers of the world.

Image credit: Twitch.

Some say their anger is aimed at Twitch for expanding beyond games. "The fact that Twitch turns a cold shoulder to these girls making money off of showing their tits and arse is just a big pissoff," reads a response to a thread about Trainwreck's video on Ice Poseidon's subreddit. "I remember when their credo used to be 'Let's keep it about the games.'"

Competitive game streamer and Twitch Partner program member AbusivePillow argued that it's "not girl gamers" he has a problem with. "Twitch cam whores," he tweeted. "I am very good friends with many girl streamers and girl gamers. Please get it right."

"I am with him," said an Affiliate (one step down from Partner) streamer, NickTheCanadian, in response to Trainwreck's video. "Sorry women who support this kind of behaviour, but you need to put some damn clothes on when you put yourself in front of a camera and dance and act slutty while children watch."

A number of major streamers have been pushing back against these ideas. Longtimers like Jesse Cox and Ninja took aim at the idea that conventionally attractive women are somehow "stealing" viewers from dudes who stream games.

"If they're in a streamer's stream because she's gorgeous," said Ninja in the above video, "they're there for that reason. So if she's not there, they're not gonna come to fuckin' Joe Schmo, who sucks at a game or something. They're not gonna come to your stream."

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

But it was variety streamer LolRenaynay who got to the sobering heart of the matter.

"If all the titty streamers were gone tomorrow, does anyone really think shitty people would stop degrading and insulting women?" she wrote on Twitter.

"Truth is, they'd just find another hoop for us to jump through."

The trouble with attempting to draw a line between "good" and "bad" women streamers is that, again and again, you see this pattern: Any woman streaming on Twitch will eventually be accused of selling sex even if she's dressed like an Amish farmhand.

"No matter what I fucking wear, there's always a comment," said streamer and voice actress ZombiUnicorn on Twitter. "There's always someone calling me a titty streamer, fake gamer, or a whore."

Speaking with Kotaku, ZombiUnicorn elaborated on that point, saying that she got barraged with bullshit on Twitch long before "titty streamer" entered the broader Twitch lexicon. "I've been on Twitch for five years," she said over the phone, "and I've gotten this kind of stuff said to me directly in my chat since the very beginning."

She explained that she used to wear big T-shirts and hoodies because she felt ashamed, but it never made a difference. People just kept commenting on her body. ""What am I supposed to do?" she asked. "Take my boobs off my body before I stream? Sorry, but I didn't get that upgrade."

Eventually, she "grew thicker skin" and, as a proactive step, decided to start calling people out on stream for sexist comments before muting or banning them, to set an example and make sure people knew she wasn't tacitly accepting what they said.

ZombiUnicorn added that while IRL has allowed new types of streamers to thrive on Twitch, it hasn't had a negative impact on her stream. "As a woman who doesn't do that, it doesn't affect me," she said. "I used to be on the wrong side of this, but I've come to realise it doesn't affect me at all."

"I don't have to support that content. I don't have to watch it. If they cross the line, they will get reported... If 'titty streamers' disappeared tomorrow, it's not like it would affect anybody else's channel. It's just gatekeeping, is all it is."

Less prominent streamers have to deal with sexist comments, too. "I streamed this weekend for the first time in months," wrote Skylatron, who works with influencers but does not directly support herself through streaming. "Was doing computer repair and raising $ for Extra Life. Some rando told me to go back to Chatterbate. I was fully covered."

For some streamers, then, the matter at hand is the culture being cultivated in and around Twitch. Trainwreck is a partnered streamer, a streamer who is theoretically supposed to represent Twitch's priorities and values as an organisation.

Allowing views like his to propagate through Twitch, some have argued, is a much bigger issue than whether or not somebody's top is covering exactly the right amount of skin.

"I've seen some pretty toxic behaviour from some partners," wrote streamer MartianKat. "If they're ok with their company being represented in such a manner, maybe I need to rethink my association."

"This type of overtly aggressive and markedly hostile behaviour toward all women on Twitch is not acceptable," streamer Coco_The_Louder said on Twitter. "We need that #TwitchUnity talk to be backed up with action."

It's an environment that's got some women feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of streaming. Popular streamer AnneMunition understands where they're coming from, and she's got advice:

After his suspension, Trainwreck issued an "apology" that began with more of a clarification: "In no way was this content meant to demean, bash, or hate on the entirety of the female community," he wrote, leaving open the possibility that he only meant to demean and bash some women.

"With all of this being said, I want to reiterate that none of this justifies, or excuses my behaviour and actions," he went on. "I take full responsibility, and I want to apologise to Twitch, Twitch Staff, and most of all to those that I have offended including the entire community."

Responding via Twitter DM to Kotaku, Trainwreck said that the video was "addressing the .1% that sexually exploit themselves for views & money on this gaming platform" and who he thinks "hide behind the defence or veil of sexism or being treated unfairly." He also said that the presentation of it all was meant to be "a sort of satire," but he acknowledged that his choice of words and tone was "disgusting" nonetheless.

Monday evening, Trainwreck's suspension expired, and he returned to streaming. During his first stream back, he said he'd conduct himself differently and refrain from using "that word" -- presumably "slut."

Throughout the stream, though, he cut his mic during moments where he pretended to address controversial topics, as a joke about how he's been censored.

At one point, he walked around in an exaggerated fashion to make fun of women streamers bending over. And while he never used "that word," his chat sure did, and he didn't seem interested in stopping them.


Comments

    I love me some boobs, what man doesn't ~lol
    But I mean, some females clearly take it to the extreme and use that as a focus point, it's pretty clear..
    I mean even that 'TheZombiUnicorn' woman looks like she's wearing a bra in that video while showing off so much cleavage.. To the point I'd question my girlfriend if she went out showing off THAT much skin in public...
    Not saying it's wrong or against any rules since people are generally allowed outside in bathing suits in a lot of areas, very similar look, but still I mean damn... lol, can you really blame some people for thinking that your using an aspect of your body to draw in at least SOME of your audience? If it didn't work would females sit there on camera all day saying off over 50% of their tits that just HAPPEN to be in frame all of the time without fail?

    On the flip side, as long as ALL their doing is showing off without been provocative to the audience then it's fine, I think it's when females pretty much take money/tips then get up and start dancing or shaking their body or do other random crap that just uses their body more so to draw in and hock that type of viewer.. At that point can you blame people for been angry, when your pretty much doing a sex cam show while everybody else is playing games, on a game streaming site.

    At the end of the day, Twtich will need to deal with this one way or another, clearly allow them to do so, or stop them. Either be happy to get the titty-streamers money percentage or not.
    Been in limbo is the worst place to be for everybody.

      I only person who should care about them half showing their bits, is themselves. it is their choice. Some do it merely to make money, some because they want to, some do it because they can. I am not sure what it has to do with other streamers. Especially ones like Triplewreck, and thing with him is that he wasnt just complaining about what they were doing but calling them all kinds of bad things, that most decent people dont use when talking about woman any more. Basically judging them and demonising them as women. Not just what he perceived was the issue with what they do. Does that make sense?

      Congratulations on the most confused and self contradictory thing I've read all day, and I visited a news corporation comments section.

        Yeah you are right, it's all over the place and very confused haha.
        But that's the state of the whole thing I guess, at least in my eyes. I mean, where do you draw the line? hard to say, glad I'm not the one making the rules ~ because making rules for anything online is not easy at all..
        If google, twitter or facebook can't make it work well enough, what chance do you think people who have no business background or understanding of the whole picture have, it'll be close to zero I think.

        Either way, I don't use Twich, nor watch any streamers at all so honestly, this doesn't effect me personally, just sucks for everybody involved ~

      You would question your girlfriend for going out in public dressed the way she wants... how are the 1940's treating you?

        If I went out in a bra and panties my girlfriend would certainly judge what I was wearing.

    Gamer misogyny is just deeply depressing.

    Its terrible enough to have to witness it every day with all the woman in my life, in ever increasingly vile ways but there is just something so much more insidious about the online version of misogyny. Pathetic little men saying things they wish they could (or too scared) to say to woman they know in real life, all the time being upvoted and cheered on by equally sad men. Youtube is as full of these fools acting like they the cleverest people in world, who use their viewer counts as somehow proof they are right or justified.

    pick any video about a woman speaking out on any topic, especially ones which infringes the male ego, watch the downvotes pour in. Watch the mansplaining dribble out. Please never let me get that sad in my life.

    PS triplewreck the difference being: you insulted the woman for being woman and second guessing their choices for doing something, not just talking what they were choosing to do. You made it personal.

    So many online misogynists really should stop streaming/posting for a few nights and actually spend time talking to real woman, read Feminist articles, try to see things through their experiences. Even if you dont agree, just do something, anything, to expand what you think you know and what you think is acceptable. You might find some respect along the way,

    Trainwrecks is an absolute tosser. The guy is only where he is because he sucked up so hard to more popular streams. The guy flies into a rage whenever you criticize him and the only argument he falls back on is that he has sex and anyone attacking him are virgins.

    Poor guy, must have a serious case of blue balls. I was a nerd in the early 90s and I got laid pretty often. Maybe he should develop a personality?

    Before anyone shits on me, he does base his 'argument' on 'sluts rejecting him'.

      The guy is really insecure. One time a very popular streamer made comments about him saying he was okay but didnt like him that much and trainwrecks flipped right out shouting insults on his stream and then claimed he slept with the guys GF. The guy is pure scum and increadibly insecure about his supposed masculinity.

        Just reading the transcript of his rant and the fact he was rating streamers before, the guy sounds like a bog standard incel. Incels are scum.

    Any way you look at it, these woman if you can call them that shouldn't be doing what they're doing on Twitch. Woman have tits yes but most of them (yes most) take it way too far in terms of what they reveal and they do it knowing wtf they are indeed doing.

    White knights can GTFO and so can the thots. Chaturbate and Myfreecams exist for these purposes exactly.

    Women can very easily not care and flash their tits on screen to get viewers if they like but I think they should understand where people are coming from when they complain about it. If a guy went on stream and started flopping his dick around he would be met with a completely different attitude from everyone and probably shamed off the edge of the Earth for it. You may not like dick pics but boobs on twitch are basically unavoidable at this point. Should kids even be able to access Twitch? For women (at least the ones who choose to use their body), boobs work as a bypass for the effort that Men have to put in because among the general public its boobs > personality. I don't really have a problem with this but I can understand the people who do. I mean, women complain all the time about straight white males and their privileges... Is using your boobs as an advantage, to bypass the hardwork men have to put in, not a privilege? If feminism has taught me anything it's that privileges that make one kind of persons life easier than others are unfair and should be fixed... And I totally get the argument that "yeah but men have this privilege and this privilege and it's not fair on women" but hey, if we're gonna try to fix one of these things then can we at least fix them all? I'd be way more willing to join the cause if it at least felt like the fight for equality was for the benefit of both sides and not just one. Correct me if I'm wrong? Idk..

    Well he is just being honest..I mean he calls himself Trainwreck and completely lives up to that with this video and from other comments in general as well

    I think Trainwreak is going after the wrong target, only because he feels it is easier to attack the women who choose to IRL stream.

    He gets all upset about the cool kids who bullied him etc, which has NOTHING to do with the girls who show off their bodies. Some kind of strawman argument.

    Also, the people who are choosing IRL streaming are using the platform which allows them to do so. If you have a problem with that, the people you should complain to is Twitch themselves. They allow it, people use it. Don't blame the users.

    There's a grain of truth in here somewhere if you look hard enough..

    Men are fundamentally attracted to the physical features of women. Some people will use that to their advantage.

    You can't paint them ALL with the same brush, but you also can't deny it happens.

    How many men do you see that are engaging with their streaming audience by wearing speedos?

      Sure it happens but what is wrong with that?

        I don't have an issue with it, I enjoy objectifying women.

        But I do try to remind myself to value them for more than just physical appearance. It's a struggle.

          If people didn't watch these streams they would stop existing. The reason there are no guys streaming in speedos is because no one wants to see it. It's a legitimate business choice by the women in these streams to make money off douchebags who objectify women like yourself.

            Douchebag?!? That was a little bit mean. Hope everything is OK with your life?

    Sounds to me this dude doesn't know how to talk to girls, so he defaults to the only thing he knows how to do: insulting their looks. It's a bit like that 7th grade bully who kept picking on you because his parents never hugged him.

    He should really go and talk to someone about his obvious problem.

    Oh please, these guys jerk their fanbases off all the time. They don't see it because they phrase it differently, but 'staying on brand' and 'playing a character' are ultimately just excuses to justify faking their personalities to better appeal to specific demographics. They make the audience feel close to them so they'll pay. Some IRL girls might use sexuality to their advantage, but I feel almost all guy streamers manipulate their audiences need for friendship.

    These guys should just shut up & get over it already. Let people watch what they want to watch. And if that is a so-called "booby streamer" then so be it, they're not breaking any rules so just let bygones be bygones & stop complaining so damn much...

    streamers...nuff said

    I don't see the problem. Some guys want to watch women playing games in skimpy clothes. It isn't my bag but I'm not going to judge. Why should this jerk?

    (prohibit "nudity and conduct involving overtly sexual behaviour" as well as "any content or activity involving pornography, sexual intercourse, or adult services.") so how does twerking or some of there “dances” not fall into this category of overtly sexual behaviour this is a rule in twitch and I think shaking your ass around and basically giving the camera a lap dance falls into this catergory but if they are just talking to the camera in irl or playing games and just sitting there with cleaveage then there is nothing wrong there are some buff dudes that stream shirtless but if a guy was to wear some baggy grey sweatpants and start swinging his dick around he would get in trouble for that so that’s where to draw the line if it’s them being sexual just by looking good then it’s all gee but if they are purposefully showing of the body by dancing or in a dudes case helicopter dicking then hit them with the ban hammer otherwise just don’t get mad at them if they are just hot

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