Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Man, it's so easy for you as a woman

frequently have people envious of my female status in esports. Whether they directly tell me they’re jealous, or that I have it easy, or they are silently thinking something along those lines, I deal with that sentiment with most people I interact with. Esports is predominantly male, or at least the vocal part is. There are few women, and it often seems like we have a shorter road to the top.

So what are my perks? Well, I have a massive amount of information at my disposal because I am dating a professional player. Since we don’t have female pros, women do have a better shot at dating a pro and accessing that level of information and connections. Sorry guys, I guess my love life is really getting me ahead, must be a massively unfair advantage. The girlfriend gets much more respect than the friend, right? The girlfriend is never viewed as a distraction, or a sign a player isn’t focussed, correct? Think about the cultural ideals you have about girlfriends. If I was a guy getting VIP access at TI because I was a player’s friend, would any of those stigmas apply to me? Even better, imagine if I was me, but single, and I was just a friend. What would be said about me and that player? Would people think, wow, she must be super cool and smart to be friends with someone who has such a unique and busy life? Or would they perhaps be more focussed on the “friend” status and take bets about how long until my pants get invaded?

Let’s talk about the clearest perceived perk. You have boobs, your life is easy.

Ok so yes, women can use their attractiveness to their advantage. Most people know me for my cosplays, something that gives me easy attention! Just put on a bra and some black eyeliner and I can be Queen of Pain and become internet famous! Well, first of all, cosplaying takes an immense amount of time and money, so easy is definitely the wrong word. The biggest issue with this thought lies in the belief that female cosplays are equal to positive attention. When I make a cosplay, I stare at the in game model with crazy exaggerated features and adjust my neck and hemlines as much as possible to stay true to the character, but avoid the negative stigmas. Every decision I make is carefully calculated to avoid  being called an “attention whore” while still bringing a character I love to life. 

I just went and re-scanned the reddit comments from my Mirana and Beastmaster cosplays. A large amount of comments are directed towards congratulating me on NOT baring everything. People don’t see the craft, all they see is me deviating from the female stereotype. When people come to check out cosplay streams, they are surprised I have a personality and actually want to play the game. I face so many stereotypes and preconceived notions when I put on a cosplay, and I have to fight constantly to demonstrate that I do it out of passion, and that I do indeed have a brain.

Imagine if a guy did as many cosplays as I did. Quality male cosplays face much less cynicism , and are almost universally applauded for doing something unique. People do not focus on body type or request “more battlefury” for the cleavage boost. There is no discussion of the amount of skin shown or how desperate he must be for attention. Remember this the next time you see a cosplay on the front page of reddit and you think of how easy that girl must have it.

Outside of cosplay, in general female streamers are assumed to only be successful because they are women. When you are a new streamer it is easier to get viewers if you are a woman. Once you have a solid cohort of viewers? It is immensely challenging to grow. People see a female stream and make assumptions about the stream. They expect cleavage, white knights and neckbeards in chat, and a streamer who has no idea how to play the game. No matter how hard I work to improve, interact, and have a fun and focussed channel, new people to the stream will generally assume I have gotten my partnership and viewer numbers by flaunting my femininity. I personally feel like I had a faster trip to mediocrity, but growth beyond that is much more challenging as a woman, and I struggle with stereotypes and negative expectations every day.

What this all comes down to is respect. I can easily get attention, but only as a superficial blow up doll. Any intellectual contribution I have is viewed through the lense of me as a cosplayer or streamer, not as a person. My article seeking a better feedback mechanism for casters was deemed an attention whoring mechanism to seize drama and promote myself, rather than me recognizing a lack of a service in the community and attempting to help. People may envy my partnership, my “insider knowledge”, and my front page reddit accessibility with cosplays, but they don’t realize that it means nothing, because I am regarded as nothing. Everyone has to work hard. I am not saying men have it easy or that other people work less. Men have a harder time being noticed and I am sure they put in just as much time as me. However, they don’t have to face the stigmas and negative stereotypes. I would like people to really think about what it is they are envious of the next time they accuse me of having it easy. I didn’t struggle as much with being noticed, but every day is a battle to prove again and again that I am a person with passion, goals, and a desire to contribute in a way that extends beyond emptying your tissue box.


  1. Good article, I think your day to day fighting shows great resolve. Sadly, with our pratriarcal society, these behaviors will probably not change fast, but writing articles like this contribute to the awareness of everyone about it.

  2. Well, other than your well intentioned but misguided attempt at that caster survey, I haven't heard much from you. One of my guiding principles in life is that if you can't fight/play, be useful. Or be pretty. So work on that.

  3. I can understand where you're coming from but what I can't understand is.. Why make your cleavage visible through webcam? Why advertise yourself as such with that webcam window?
    There's female streamers who don't have a webcam, none of them are especially big but there's no stereotypes surrounding those kinds of female streamers? The moment you have a webcam and people see a cleavage, yes they do make assumptions. But it's the internet. That cleavage is a weapon against teens and young adults, while others who've already seen other streamers "Showing off their weapons" with the intent of pulling in cheap viewers.. It's hard to say that you're not one of them?

    I personally recommend, either don't have a webcam window or simply cover yourself up so that "cleavage" wouldn't be shown. You're free to show off cosplay every now and then, but realize every moment that your cleavage is shown even in cosplay format in the twitch channel browser, people will have assumptions. It's not like the whole internet is sexist, but there's people who're "Making use of their assets" by abusing the sexual tension of teens/Young adults, and they do it in the way of showing off skin and cleavage. There's a reason why people think they way they do. There's no reason for you to do that yourself, just try to sell yourself as a personality, not as a pretty girl on a webcam.

    And in terms of others being jealous cause you're going out with a Pro player.. Ask yourself or others this "Do you go out with him cause he's a Pro player"? You will know it best and if you say it straight out then most likely others will also at least feel embarrassed.

    1. If you've seen my stream, you would know that I generally wear whatever I have worn to work that day (and since my work is being a biochemistry graduate student doing research in a lab, it is probably plenty appropriate), or even change into something more conservative, but it still is annoying. Why should I have to cover every single inch of skin up just because other people find that attractive? Why should I have to not have a webcam just because people judge me from that? I refuse to watch streams without webcams, because I watch facial reactions and responses to what happens, that is what I find entertaining. My point is that I have to think twice or three times about everything I do just to have a chance to battle the stereotype.

      I am well aware of the advantages, I just want people to also recognize the disadvantages as well.

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    3. Indeed I haven't happened upon your stream so the viewpoint I have is without knowing what's exactly going on and I'm not specifically talking about what you're usually doing but rather you can try to do. Your position is pretty lofty in terms of what options you have (You have people that can promote you), but if people say that, your streams focus might not be fully committed to gameplay in their view?

      If you're wearing non-revealing clothes (Without a cleavage) then maybe think about your webcam positioning and other aspects of your stream? Because even if you don't intend to pull people in with your looks, fact is that there might be aspects that work out that way. The stereotype that has been established is ground on a psychological pull that pulls at the "loins" of teen males. You can't change what those teenagers think about you, but you can do things to make them less interested. You might need to think things through before you do things - Webcam positioning, clothing, etc. (Though I have to say the more plain your clothing and makeups, the better it is if you love using a webcam.) But it'll pay off in the way of having a better and more mature viewership.

      Although the first picture in the topic might've been done with your webcam? Which I'd say is quite revealing.. That partly worked in as my initial impression for your stream so apologies for that.

      I do have to add that as a streamer you'll need to think about what you want to show your viewers, what impression you want to leave others. It's also the case with men, you'll want to tidy your room for example, put video game figurines to show them off (People will feel like they know others if they see that the streamer has interest that go together with the viewers), greenscreens, etc. I mean it's not at the level that you as a woman might need to go through to discard the stereotype (Because there's a number of guys who simply stream in their underwear as well because they simply don't care.), but what I want to do is give you ideas as it might not be quite as bad once you change a couple of things (It might even be at the level of simply altering the webcam position so that it doesn't show anything below your neck..). *shurg*

  4. twitch, where being sexy and attractive is a crime. you want burkas with that fries?

  5. Or you can just accept that this stigma against female gamers in particular will not change anytime soon? If ever?

    Guys and girls are different. People who try too hard to argue for more equality are just full of themselves. Especially in the gaming world, the bar set for guys is drastically different than what girls have to deal with, and I strongly believe this for a variety of reasons.

    For instance, a guy is basically FORCED to be good at a given game. In most cases, many people (both male and female) will not care for a guy gamer who streams if he is not actually decent at the game. And yes, exceptions exist. There are some less-than-skilled guys who can get away with being funny or whatever, but the emphasis toward genuine skill is a main focus.

    Compare that to the typical girl gamer. A girl gamer doesn't have to be as good at a given game, at least not necessarily. A girl gamer can literally get away with being average or worse, and that’s all right in the eyes of the male-heavy audience as long as they resort to doing the stuff girl gamers who stream are stereotyped for: cleavage, (sometimes faked) high-pitched and cutesy voices, cosplays, outfits that are on the bubble for breaking the streaming rules and so forth.

    With this in mind, it’s no surprise girl gamers are badgered constantly. Girl gamers are met with frequent harassment because of the odd mix of people who would watch the streams. You get the lonely nerds who want to be white knights against the people who flame/flirt with the girl gamers for doing what they need to resort to for viewership.

    And very rarely, I would say, is a girl’s stream actually focused on the game itself.

    But that’s how you have to play the cards you’re dealt with when it comes to streaming.

    Reinessa, honestly, be glad you have people watch your stuff for whatever reason. It may not always be for the right reasons, but views are views. At the very least, you have people watching your stuff, and that’s more than what a lot of people can wish for when they attempt similar things.

    I literally had a discussion with my friend about this stuff today, so perhaps my mini-essay here is just some of the lingering thoughts on the subject matter.

    My friend was Master Tier in terms of skill in League of Legends, but he literally did not stand out enough because he was “just another guy” who played at that bracket. He and I both agreed it would have been a different story if he were a female gamer instead.

    Again, different bars. They are set at different spots. It’s not fair for both genders, but that’s how things are.

  6. Great blog! I totally agree with many points. Personally I hate to see this negative vibe everytime I see a female streamer. Hopefully people start to realise this at some point and grow up.