In Grace Van Dien’s first online appearance since her signing with gaming influencer crew FaZe Clan ignited a whirlwind of drama and misogyny, the Stranger Things actor turned Twitch streamer sat down with Call of Duty content maker Ashtronova to discuss toxicity in gaming. The conversation appears to be the first episode of a new YouTube series called Two Women Talking, and the two opened up about the abuse non-male gamers face in the space.
“There were other girl gamers I was friends with and it was just sorta you had to pretty much be like a ‘pickme’ to be able to fit in,” Ashtronova said. “You had to accept the toxicity and do it back to show that you’re cool, like you’re one of the bros otherwise no one wants to be friends with you no one wants to play with you because you’re ‘sensitive.’”
Asked by Van Dien for one of the worst experiences she’s had to face in her streaming career, Ashtronova recalled her first signing with a gaming organisation, when one of her teammates at the time apparently responded to the news by tweeting “I want to cum on your tits.” She said she left the team immediately after.
Van Dien was recently at the centre of a pile-on by angry gamers when FaZe Clan, the esports organisation turned influencer brand turned stock exchange dud, announced her as its newest signing. Some longtime members including FaZe Rain claimed it as evidence the company was out of touch and selling out, while also denigrating and dismissing Van Dien in the process.
The controversy culminated in Rain and the former Stranger Things actor sitting down in person to discuss the backlash, only for her to leave in tears and for Rain to post footage of the encounter on YouTube with play-by-play commentary. Van Dien temporarily set her Twitter account to private as FaZe Clan fans continued raging, and has since removed the company’s name from her profile info. A spokesperson for the company did not immediately confirm if she is still a member.
“When we do call them out, the people in this community, the general public in this community, they again, like we’ve been saying they don’t like sensitive people,” Van Dien told Ashtronova. “And if you’re sensitive all of the sudden that means you’re victimizing yourself and it’s like ‘no I might just be sensitive especially to sexist, degrading comments and that’s ok.’”
So because girls have been receiving sexist treatment in gaming for ages, we should be silent and accepting about it?
— Grace Van Dien (@GraceVanDien) June 7, 2023
Video gaming, like many industries, has historically been male dominated, sometimes resulting in workplaces that are openly antagonistic toward women. And gaming, like many online fandoms, has historically been unwelcoming to anyone from a marginalised background. The esports community has been particularly slow to evolve. FaZe Clan apologised last July for a misogynistic tweet by its Call of Duty team.
“I am so tired of loading into games and I’ll just be like oh they’re on B-site, like I’ll say that in my mic,” Van Dien said during her new video. “And immediately it’s a guy laughing and being like, ‘Did I tell you you can open your mouth, you can only open your mouth if I’m unzipping my pants and you’re on your knees.’”
At the end of her conversation with Ashtronova, she invited the Call of Duty streamer to get a temporary Medusa tattoo with her. The figure from Greek mythology started trending last fall as a symbol of sexual assault survivors pushing back against the vilification or blame that often accompanies speaking out about abuse. Last year, Ashtronova accused then-FaZe Clan member Mew of sexual misconduct. He denied the accusations but was later dropped by the organisation while it investigated the claims.
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