in Video Games

Dress… Appropriately? Twitch.tv Change of Policies Targets Women

Twitch has come out with a somewhat surprising change to their terms and conditions. Most of these changes are needed without further argument. A ban on hate speech, harassment, sexism and homophobia fall under the extremely necessary “To rid of” category. Twitch.tv is supposed to be a site dedicated to interaction and enjoyment between video game streamers and their viewers. Harming someone’s mental or emotional state doesn’t quite fall under the enjoyment section. But Twitch.tv now deems clothing to be a hindrance to their streaming platform. As of yesterday, October 28th, Twitch has made a bold statement on the dress code of their streamers. On their rules of conduct, Twitch has stated:

Nerds are sexy, and you’re all magnificent, beautiful creatures, but let’s try and keep this about the games, shall we?

Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing — including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments — will most likely get you suspended, as well as any full nude torsos, which applies to both male and female broadcasters. You may have a great six-pack, but that’s better shared on the beach during a 2-on-2 volleyball game blasting “Playing with the Boys.”

If it’s unbearably hot where you are, and you happen to have your shirt off (gents) or a bikini top (ladies), then just crop the webcam to your face. If your lighting is hot, get fluorescent bulbs to reduce the heat. Xbox One Kinect doesn’t zoom? Move it closer to you, or turn it off. There is always a workaround.*

We sell t-shirts, and those are always acceptable. #Kappa”

Twitch’s reasoning behind this change of policy? To help keep streaming “about the game”. Twitch is now officially policing streamers’ wardrobes and going against it will “most likely get you suspended”. But streamers, especially women, are not okay with this new change or how Twitch decided to word the announcement.

Not only is the first line cringe-worthy, but it doesn’t take a genius to note the four categories labeled as sexually suggestive clothing all point to women, while only one could be applied to men. Some could argue the ban on swimsuits apply to men, but then Twitch goes on to give bikinis as their example. The policy change by Twitch is short but is open to ambiguous questioning. Male streamers showing their chest can be suspended, but if women show cleavage, are they up for deletion as well? How much cleavage could be deemed “too sexually explicit” by Twitch? What viewers deem as suggestive may be different than Twitch’s but that won’t stop reports from flying in.

One person who already receives a ton of backlash for her streaming performances is Kaceytron. Kacey streams League of Legend games while wearing what could be seen (because Twitch’s wording on the manner is up in the air) as suggestive content. She has made a few tweets in reference to the Twitch rules, although jokingly as is her persona. She wears tank tops during her streams that show cleavage. In my opinion, breasts and cleavage are a natural part of a woman’s body and life. You’re going to see it. But does that make it explicit and warrant account suspension?

Another user feeling targeted by Twitch’s rules is Nicole Slaw better known as KneeColeslaw. She has made fun of the new policy by naming her Twitch streams Professionally Suggestive and Extremely Twitch Appropriate Stream. Not as joking as Kaceytron, she has also tweeted a photo comparison of how a person is labelled based on their clothing here (warning: features explicit name calling). As well, people are already making fake articles about certain streamers being “banned” for their “content” such as Meg Turney, a Rooster Teeth employee. Turney tweeted to dispel the rumors about being banned from Twitch based on her content here. Seems like there are viewers who dislike certain streamers and are attempting to have them suspended based around this new policy. It also seems women are the ones being targeted.

If this change is merely to help keep Twitch content focused on the game then more policies should be introduced. Many streamers may play their game in the background but often talk about a variety of other subjects such as their family, friends and personal dramas. Some streamers are more accurately deemed as entertainers of a comedic variety and concentrate on telling stories or jokes while playing games. Shouldn’t this not be allowed too? I mean, during these types of streams video games are not the prime focus. Storytelling can be just as, if not more so distracting than articles of clothing or lack thereof.

Another complaint I have is how the policy is written. Perhaps Twitch employees are making an attempt at humor. But in my opinion it comes off unprofessional and sloppy. The first line of “sexy nerds” rubs me the wrong way. I mean, if you search “sexy nerds” in Google images, over 90% of the photos found are women in sexy gaming cosplays. But this is a very important rule they are now enforcing. Accounts, monthly subscriptions, and donations can all be lost if a stream is suspended. For some, Twitch is a source of income. To lose something so important deserves more than a joke about parties, t-shirts and a hashtag.