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At the Women of Twitch panel at PAX West 2017, three established broadcasters TheMavShow, SinfullyRiddling, and AnneMunition spoke on the struggles of being women on Twitch, how to overcome harassment and negative stereotypes, how to respect unique types of content from women, and how the community can improve the atmosphere for all streamers, regardless of their gender.

5% of the top followed channels on Twitch are women

On this platform, there is a low floor and a high ceiling–although it may seem “easy” to start out as a woman broadcaster due to the oversaturation of males on the platform, it’s also extremely difficult to become widely recognized and successful. This leads to a common misconception that women streamers’ accomplishments are due to their gender and not their hard work.

Women streamers who focus on their sexuality don’t hold other women streamers back or set a bad example

One of the topics that stood out to me was that there are different types of women on Twitch making different content, and they appeal to different audiences. There’s an audience for everything, and different types of content doesn’t take away or “steal viewers” from other broadcasters. As women streamers, it’s important to focus on this and encourage and respect other female streamers, because the culture should start with how we treat each other. We should set an example for others on how to respect women who focus on different content, not put them down.

“You can simply ignore content [on Twitch] that you don’t like rather than spamming hatred. I don’t see the point in the wasted negative energy.” – Meg (SinfullyRiddling)

People shouldn’t censor themselves or be someone different than they want to be to appeal to an audience or combat a misconception of your content. If you view Twitch streams as different channels in a similar way as TV, it makes sense to expect unique content from each person instead of the same thing across the board.

“You can be whatever you want [on Twitch].” – Mav

How do new streamers combat harassment?

A great way to start your stream off to not tolerate toxicity is to set strict rules. It’s easier to make the rules less strict than make them more strict. Create a support group of moderators in your community to understand your expectations during the stream and help enforce them. Do not tolerate harassment in your stream for the viewer count. If you don’t like someone, get rid of them. Quality, not quantity! Having mods that help you enforce the rules helps set the pretense of respect makes a big difference. Twitch has the tools and ability to build a positive place.

Make it abnormal, even in men’s channels, to be disrespectful towards women. You are setting an example to your viewers based on how you act toward women and minorities.

Leaning on each other

The most overwhelming sense of community I got at the panel was during the Q&A. As more women stood up to ask questions about starting out as a streamer, I realized that it’s increasingly difficult to find the support and get the questions answered that are hard to overcome as a new or established broadcaster on Twitch. In the future, I’d love to see more of a formal community for women of Twitch to ask for help, get support, and even recruit moderators for their chat.

We must curate a community that doesn’t tolerate harassment and toxicity. It’s a social responsibility of Twitch streamers to make it more abnormal to treat women badly.

You can watch the whole panel below, via Anne’s stream.

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