Twitch streamers have mixed reactions to Ninja’s choice to not play with female streamers

Pokimane via Synapse Fortnite

Ninja, aka Tyler Blevins, Twitch’s biggest streamer, told Polygon last week that he doesn’t play with female gamers. The decision, he explained, is rooted in internet culture rather than discriminatory intent — Blevins said he believes that that any possible hint of flirting during a stream will immediately be “clickbait forever.” In his words, “The only way to avoid that [gossip] is to not play with [women] at all.”

Blevins’ comments, seen as a product of internet culture by some and sexist by others, sparked discourse among fans, Twitch streamers and YouTube personalities who each shared their own thoughts on the matter.

Imane “Pokimane” Anys said during a stream last Saturday, “It sucks that things like [Blevins’ decision] have to be made into a big deal when I don’t think they have to be.” Anys is no stranger to Twitch popularity and scrutiny — after she began to stream Fortnite with pro player Ali “Myth” Kabbani, the pair have been dogged by dating rumors. Furthermore, she argued that Blevins’ claims that he hasn’t received criticism from female streamers were due to the fact that he hadn’t publicly spoken about his decision before, rather than a lack of objection.

Reaction quickly spread across Twitter, some agreeing with Blevins’ statement, others firmly against it, and yet others running the whole gamut of thoughts and feelings.

Austen Marie, illustrator, comic artist and Twitch partner, meanwhile, called the decision problematic, since it further alienates women in an already divisive industry.

Fellow Fortnite streamer Valkyrae (Rachel Hoffsetter) expressed her support of Blevins’ decision to keep drama out of his own marriage.

Twitch streamer Laura Lux agreed, arguing that Blevins’ decision was reflective of the Twitch community rather than his personal bias.

Twitch affiliate Samantha Rae said that she understood the reasoning behind Blevins’ description, but felt that it only served to strengthen the gender divide in streaming.

Still others like Adam Koebel, a Twitch streamer and RPG designer, felt that Blevins’ announcement had further reaching implications outside the streamer’s own content, especially concerning other streamers and creatives who want to collaborate with individuals of different genders.

YouTube personality Riley J. Dennis called Blevins’ decision “the millennial version of Mike Pence not taking meetings with women,” and accused the streamer of perpetuating the harassment that female streamers often face.

Alternatively, Daequan of Team SoloMid’s Fortnite team urged fans to “get off” Blevins and let him decide what works for his own relationship.

And finally, streamer and YouTuber Renée Reynosa reacted to Blevins’ decision by referencing ligma, the disease that supposedly killed Ninja during a recent death hoax.

Blevins’ decision continues to spark the conversation around streaming culture and the gaming community.

Comments

Jesus, I think he was right. He can’t even say this without the entire internet making a huge deal about it, and people debating his intent as mysoginistic, etc. If all this comes out of him explaining a decision he’s been going by for years, with accusations on his character and everything, hes probably right to avoid anything that haters, clickbaiters, and whatever the YouTube equivalent of gossip tags could twist in some way.

he did a sexist thing as opposed to not-a-sexist thing, i.e. streaming with female gamers

male gamers play with female gamers on-stream every hour of every day, this is a non-issue that blew up because of a sexist attitude towards women

Yep, even if he doesn’t see why its sexist…If i stated I refused to do something with a woman who is in my same field…think how bad that sounds. Just cause hes a twitch celebrity doesn’t mean he’s different in this. Welcome to fame, if its too much, don’t be a streamer or I guess in his case make up a lame reasons to not stream with females.

Or he can continue streaming the way he wants. Thats ok too.

I mean, was that not covered with the end of my sentence?

To reiterate, hes free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. I’m also free to have an opinion on it. Amazing how that works.

As long as you bear the responsibility for pushing away a lot of people who are inherently sympathetic towards feminism and equal right with your behavior, that’s completely fine.

There it is, the "this is what’s wrong with feminism/this is why people hate feminists" news flash pal, people with outlooks like that were never sympathetic to anything but the status quo anyway. "Caring about equality" doesn’t magically stop if someone says something that isn’t perfectly polite to you.

"Caring about equality" doesn’t magically stop if someone says something that isn’t perfectly polite to you.

Real life disagrees with you. Somewhere in these threads I read the term "theory bubble", which I think makes a lot of sense looking at how some people appraoch certain problems.

Also, my problem isn’t with feminism, it’s with binary thinking.

hey, there are consequences to stupid actions. he can absolutely keep doing dumb shit but he’s going to hear about it

What Ninja is doing is not sexist. If you think it is, you need brush up on the meaning of that word and how it applies to this situation.

no, i don’t because it’s sexist

He basically said "I don’t want to play video games with women because then I have to worry about the internet wondering if I’m dating them or not."

Now, imagine if he said "I don’t play with black people because I don’t want people to be wondering if I like them". That would be racism, right? Saying what he’s saying is sexist. He’s literally discriminating against women.

Or here’s another example: Imagine you’re in class (or work) with women and group up in teams. But instead you tell your teacher (or boss): "Sorry, I can’t work with women because I don’t want people to think we’re flirting or if they like me".

See how stupid that sounds and how it turns women into objects instead of actual human beings?

Now, imagine if he said "I don’t play with black people because I don’t want people to be wondering if I like them". That would be racism, right? Saying what he’s saying is sexist. He’s literally discriminating against women.

A typical loaded comparison that isn’t remotely the same. One implies not a distaste for women, but a devotion to a specific one. The other implies a distaste for an entire race. C’mon now…

Or here’s another example: Imagine you’re in class (or work) with women and group up in teams. But instead you tell your teacher (or boss): "Sorry, I can’t work with women because I don’t want people to think we’re flirting or if they like me".

Better. But, even in this situation, the person in question is free to make that decision, and he will simply have to leave the class in that case because that situation can’t work. Ninja’s situation is perfectly workable with his decision, and has solid reasoning behind it (his relationship with his wife).

At worst, Ninja is naive to believe he can keep the rumor mill from his relationship, so his reasoning may be flawed. But it’s his decision to make, and does not reflect sexism since he has clearly explained himself.

That second comparison, while better as you say, doesn’t compare either because at work or class you don’t have potentially MILLIONS of people watching your interactions and possibly blowing them out of proportion.

Twitch is a shitshow at the best of times, and people have LITERALLY died because of swatting and other such things. For him to choose not to subject his family to potential drama and bullshit in this way is his prerogative. Can it be construed as sexist? I mean, I guess you can. And many here have, vehemently in some cases.

Personally I don’t think it’s him being sexist, so much as him being aware of how shit the Twitch community at large is. If the Twitch community weren’t a bunch of despicable reprobates, in the most extreme of cases, then he wouldn’t have to worry about anything. But they’re shit people in some cases, and risking your family or the sanity of your wife, being harassed nonstop in her own chat over the community’s perceived slights and drama, is well within the purview of things to avoid if possible.

TL;DR I agree with you, just tossing out my own thoughts on the situation.

You might want to make sure you know the definition of the word before you tell others to look it up: sexism

You may want to brush up on your understanding of the definition before chastising others.

Blevins is saying that he is choosing to discriminate against women because NOT doing so could bring mental and emotional distress to both himself, his wife and any woman he plays with.

You are welcome to argue that, as a major figure on Twitch, he has responsibilities to try to set the norm. Theoretically, he does.
You are also welcome to argue that this is a shitty decision and that it sucks that the Twitch communities are this horrible, because it does and they are.

But what you cannot argue, if you properly understand the definition of "sexism", is that this is sexism. Because it is not.

"prejudice or discrimination based on sex"
His decision is not ‘based on sex’. Sex is a factor, but it is not the basis for his decision. He is not discriminating because he believes women to be inferior, for example. It is based on him not wanting to subject others to abuse by Twitch community members.

"behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex"
He is not fostering stereotypes of any kind. If anything, he is saying "neither my family nor anyone I play with deserves to be exposed to abuse on the internet." On the contrary, he is trying in his own way to combat and/or not contribute further to the negative stereotype that all women on Twitch are dumb sexual objects.

Agree or disagree, its ultimately NOT his responsibility to solve this problem nor does Twitch have his back in any way to empower him to tackle it effectively.

I do think this sucks, because it will indirectly lead to more men being successful on Twitch as a result of playing with Blevins. That is how Twitch works – so it is Twitch who should step in here, take responsibility for the trash community attitude toward female gamers and do something about it.

"behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex"
He is not fostering stereotypes of any kind.

No? "I don’t want to stream with women because it will be seen as flirting" looks to me like it has a big-ass stereotype embedded.

Agree or disagree, its ultimately NOT his responsibility to solve this problem nor does Twitch have his back in any way to empower him to tackle it effectively.

It’s not my responsibility to do the right thing in every situation, either. But people can, and often do, point out to me that I caved.

Look, if the twitch community is a toxic cesspool and the company will not have his back if he’s harassed, and yet he goes on streaming on twitch, it says something: that he prefers earning money, even if it means staying on a toxic platform. If, instead of doing the right thing, he just avoids 50% of the human race to skip drama, it says something: that he prefers earning good money on a toxic platform and letting things stay the way they are.

Did you actually read and comprehend his reason for not streaming with them? Did he blame women for streaming with them possibly being seen as flirting? No. He is, rightfully so, calling out the Twitch community and their bullshit drama-storms that they always create.

It’s a shit situation that could have undoubtedly been handled better. But as others have mentioned it’s not ultimately on Blevin to manage the shit community that Twitch fosters.

At best, he is caving to sexist trolls.

But to me, that he goes straight to gender segregation reveals something about his character. This is an idea rooted in religious fundamentalism, often sold as being about chivalry and practicality. The actual result of gender segregation is that women get pushed out of certain professions, they get pushed out of public spaces.

Does he know or realize that he’s pushing a stone age solution to a digital age problem? Probably not, but his youth and ignorance shouldn’t insulate him from criticism.

I don’t find "I will do the minimum effort needed so that my community doesn’t behave as obnoxious 13-year-olds towards me and my wife, hurting the possibilities of normal women in the process" to be much of a call-out. I’d call it "appeasement", or just "washing my hands off this". Which… We don’t exactly remember Pontius Pilate as a great guy who did the right thing.

I think this is a situation where I can understand the thought process that would lead him to make a decision like this, but I very much wouldn’t have come to the same conclusion if I were in his shoes.

I don’t know if I’d consider streaming with people of different genders to be any different from something like an actor playing a role that requires them to be in a relationship outside of the ones they share in real life. There’d likely be shipping, sure, but rare is the occasion where a public figure doesn’t find themselves dealing with that kind of thing.

Perhaps the backlash might lead him to reconsider it, but there’s also the possibility that it was a decision he came to after seeing what was going to be best for himself and his wife (and less likely to change as a result). Only time will tell, I guess.

The HUGE difference between actors and other public figures dealing with those rumors and "shipping", and what Blevin and the Twitch streamers in general have to deal with is that on Twitch people have literally died because of drama caused by the community.

Let’s get hypothetical. Imagine Blevin has been streaming with a female streaming two or three times, and some obsessed and obnoxious fan decides that she (the other streamer) is a home-wrecking "TwitchThot" and takes it upon themselves to call in some SWATting on her. SWAT shows up at the streamer’s house, and through a series of unfortunate events and circumstances she dies before the end of the incident.

Blevin would undoubtedly be wracked with guilt over such a thing, and while the way he’s decided to sort the situation isn’t ideal and could probably be handled better I don’t really have a perfect solution to the shitshow that is Twitch Community. I’m not going to sit here and say that inevitably the hypothetical situation above would happen, but it’s a fact that people HAVE died because of shitbags in the Twitch community using SWATting for shits and giggles, or to spite someone. It’s really unfortunate that Twitch has allowed their community to become so horrendous, but that’s another thing that I don’t really have a good solution for.

I’m of two minds on this.

One, he’s right. He, his wife, and any girl he streams with will inevitably take some flak from idiots on Twitch. It’s an undue pressure on his relationship that he wants to avoid. It’s not his duty to fight that fight on sexist reactions to people playing together. And no, it’s not sexist for him to make that choice.

On the other hand, I think his streaming with women might help to undermine some of the sexist attitudes on Twitch. It would help normalize the fact that yes, women play games, some are good at them, and some stream while playing. By proving that it’s doable and normal to interact platonically with someone of the opposite sex, it might start changing some of the stupid attitudes going around. He’s one of the biggest streamers, and his example could spread very quickly. Plus, we could use more big name female streamers, and he’d help them get a ton of attention.

Again, he’s not required to fight that fight at the cost of possible relationship stability. I do hope that he and his wife could try it, though, in order to try and make Twitch a little bit nicer.

This is the correct takeaway.

Basically, because of how shitty the community is, he has every right to shield himself from one angle of attack.

However, his doing so doesn’t do anything to help remove the problem from the community (although it does an excellent job of highlighting it and bringing it into focus).

He seems very clear that he encourages female streamers in general – he just doesn’t want to deal with the problems that come with implying favoritism.

What a nice and measured opinion. Forgot those existed

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