On Twitch, there is a subset of female streamers who are often derided as “Twitch thots,” a sexist, degrading term that defines streamers by their looks.
The insult is frequently used by Twitch viewers and streamers, angry Redditors and YouTubers like PewDiePie, who claim to use it as a meme. The term “thot” appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2012, and stands for “that ho over there.” It’s now primarily used to describe a woman as promiscuous, but on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, the meme takes on different forms.
That’s what makes intent and context behind the term so important. While some people see the phrase “Twitch thot” as a meme, it’s most often used to insult a female streamer on a predominantly male platform. A few high-profile cases in recent months have spawned new conversations about the term and how many women on the platform are seen. That extends to two particularly well-known Twitch streamers: Alinity and Amouranth.
Amouranth is the most recent high-profile Twitch streamer being targeted by a group of trolls, calling her a “Twitch thot” for her videos. Recently, a rumor spread that Amouranth lied about her relationship status, pretending to be single so men would donate large amounts of money, according to accusations from one YouTuber.
People on subreddits, like r/livestreamfail, have since referred to Amouranth as one of the biggest “Twitch thots,” a term often used by men to describe a perceived subset of women on the platform. She’s also received insulting tweets, and says she’s been doxed since the story about her relationship broke. Other people, however, have jumped to Amouranth’s defense, arguing that it says more about angry members in the community who are upset than it does Amouranth.
Amouranth, who has over 525,000 followers on Twitch, addressed aspects of the situation on Twitter and in a recent interview with SyFy. Amouranth told SyFy that people have doxed her, leading her to report suspicious behavior around her home. Amouranth also addressed accusations that she was lying to subscribers in order to generate more income.
“People don’t donate to me because they think it improves their chances with me in some romantic way any more than do people donate to large male streamers because they fantasize about a romantic engagement with Soda, Lirik or Ninja,” Amouranth told SyFy. “That mentality is just a condescending meme perpetuated by viewers of other streams who want to feel better about themselves and their content preferences.”
Trolls feel empowered to use degrading, misogynistic insults when situations like this occur, and that’s what Amouranth seems to imply when she’s referring to a “condescending meme.”
Alinity, a popular streamer on Twitch, found herself facing a similarly intense backlash after PewDiePie used the term “Twitch thots” in May. Alinity streamed herself watching the video and, after seeing herself in the video, threatened to “copyright strike him” for using the footage. Alinity received blowback from PewDiePie and his fans for threatening to copyright strike his channel, a tactic the YouTube community takes very seriously. The situation escalated into a larger ordeal, but the original message, Alinity told Motherboard, remained the same: She felt degraded.
“They’re trying to control my body — people telling me how I should dress and how I should act,” Alinity told Motherboard. “They’re trying to diminish my value by saying, ‘this is just what you are, and you should get out of here.’”
It doesn’t help when PewDiePie makes comments like, “You’re just playing games with the shortest skirt ever, that’s our fault for looking at it in any sexual way, right?”
“I know you don’t portray yourself to be the smartest person, but I know you’re not that dumb to not be aware of what you’re doing,” PewDiePie said in a followup video, commenting on Alinity’s copyright strike threat.
Although PewDiePie offered an apology for using the term “Twitch thot” in his video and the treatment she was receiving online, suggesting that he didn’t think it was offensive and viewed the term as simply a meme, Alinity felt differently.
“I didn’t hear the term ‘Twitch thot’ until a year ago,” Alinity told Polygon. “The first term I heard was ‘booby streamer,’ and that was attributed to all girls who showed some kind of cleavage during their streams. Then the term started being attributed to almost every single girl, regardless of how they dressed.”
Cera, a Twitch streamer who has dealt with harassment on Twitch, told Polygon that women being referred to as Twitch thots isn’t an isolated incident. She stressed that while some stories become bigger than others, every woman has a story about being harassed, Cera said.
“Every single girl that I talk to has stories about this happening multiple times to them,” Cera said. “These aren’t even just the regular trolls in chat who come in and yell, ‘Twitch thot’ or say, ‘Show tits.’ That’s to be expected. That’s normal. All of the internet trolling aside, this is just being bothered and harassed for being a troll because someone doesn’t like what you wear.”
When it goes beyond an insult
Amouranth’s situation is different from both Alinity and Cera’s because there are accusations that she purposely misled her core subscribers to generate more revenue. She’s still being referred to as a “Twitch thot,” but it runs a little deeper than that for some trolls. The insinuation that subscribers have been betrayed because they feel lied to comes back to parasocial relationships and the perceived connection streamers have with their audiences.
People who watch Amouranth for up to six or seven hours a day may feel like they genuinely know her. She talks about her life and interacts with her fans while streaming. It builds up the idea of a relationship that’s two-sided when it’s still very much one-sided. Authenticity is integral for parasocial relationships to work; fans need to believe they know Amouranth. But that doesn’t mean she needs to be completely open with them. Amouranth is still, at the end of the day, an entertainer who can keep part of her life private if she so wishes.
Professor David C. Giles at the University of Winchester outlined how important a perceived genuine connection is in one of his papers on parasocial interaction. Giles said that if the person involved in the parasocial relationship felt cheated or betrayed to, it could have a devastating effect on their perception of the celebrity.
“It is necessary for the figure to present a credible persona,” Giles wrote. “However, this may well depend on the nature of the media figure. Clearly, television personalities such as newscasters, presenters and celebrities need to appear authentic, because this is part of their appeal. A popular celebrity can easily harm his or her reputation by ‘faking it,’ for example. Nevertheless, intense parasocial attachments may be formed with figures who are clearly not ‘authentic’ such as a pop star who takes an obvious pseudonym and is only known through his or her ‘act.’”
A rumor about Amouranth being married therefore hinders that relationship because her audience who has built a relationship with her feels cheated. Still, Amouranth isn’t responsible for the perceived relationship her subscribers have with her. Disclosure between celebrities (in this case, streamers and YouTubers) can have a positive effect on the parasocial relationship, but that doesn’t mean Amouranth is required to disclose everything. Even if the rumor is true, she’s entitled to play into a role on Twitch if she wishes. Amouranth touched upon her reasoning for keeping certain parts of her life, including people close to her, anonymous in her statement to SyFy.
“The only reason the rumor concerns me is because it robs me of my only defense as a girl (person of interest) on the internet,” Amouranth said. “My safety & well being (and those of the people around me) are reliant on some degree of anonymity.”
The backlash she’s dealing with hasn’t stopped Amouranth from streaming. Nor have Alinity or Cera. Both Alinity and Amouranth have been vocal on Twitter about not letting trolls deter them from doing their jobs, but both have acknowledged this is a problem that many people on Twitch face on a day-to-day basis.
“If you mock someone for how they dress, you slander someone’s image and you’re outright sexist, then there should be harsher consequences,” Alinity told Polygon. “Twitch doesn’t have strong enough rules when it comes to sexism. It’s just women who get thrown into one group because of how they dress. It comes down to everybody has the right to conduct themselves how they want on their channel without being harassed.”