Who else is sick of toxic treatment of women online?
There’s a lot of toxic behaviour towards women online. It’s no surprise to anyone—not to one single person—that toxic behaviour towards women exists. It’s there. We all know this. And it rears its ugly head when hidden behind a keyboard, an anonymous account, and an internet connection.
For the record, I’m not one to argue that the toxic treatment of one group lessens the seriousness of toxic treatment towards another, so if you came here to argue that point, you can just go ahead and leave now.
I speak with respect to female streamers and cosplayers. I speak with respect to my affiliations with both groups.
Ladies—we often get treated like shit. We get told people only watch us to see our bodies. That people only like us because they want to sleep with us. That we should be grateful for male attention we receive online—that we should value ourselves by it. That we’re worthless and self-important, prudish and promiscuous, too heavy and too skinny, have low self-esteem and obnoxious confidence. How unlucky for us that there’s no right way to present ourselves. (/s)
Everything we do invites toxic treatment. Have you ever had a fan donate or spend exorbitant amounts of money, only to think that gives them the license to act like a complete and utter asshole to you and other members of your community? Have you ever had a stranger threaten to beat you up after declining their marriage proposal…online? Have you ever been called a slut online for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER?
That is toxic. And it’s behaviour we should never put up with.
I have seen and experienced so many examples of awful behaviour towards women online. I’ve been called a Twitch thot for showing cleavage, even though having breasts is not an indicator of how you choose to act sexually, nor is it ANYONE’S BUSINESS BUT YOUR OWN. I’ve been propositioned by men who’ve responded angrily and aggressively when I politely (or not) decline. I’ve had people assume I’m an object to be consumed or possessed or owned.
It can be really hard to deal with. It will make you want to disappear from cosplaying or streaming or any other public-facing activity you participate in. Even if you feel that way, please don’t. I won’t, because I refuse to let that kind of behaviour slide. I’ve learned a lot about how to respond to digital toxic behaviour over the years. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes it still gets to me. How could it not, when some people are unbearably cruel when protected by the anonymity of the internet? Even so, I try not to let that cruelty affect me in a meaningful way. Here’s how I tend to deal with it:
Cruel comments about weight/looks/content: Don’t engage. You likely aren’t going to convert them into a nice person, so don’t even try. Don’t even bother telling them how awful they are. If the comment upsets you, delete and block and never think of them again. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. If you absolutely must respond, don’t get angry—just laugh at them. They hate that.
Condescending comments about content: Again, don’t engage. Ignore. Some people are going to try to demean your content because it’s more successful than theirs. Girls who show PG versions of their bodies on streams tend to be the target for a lot of this, often from other women, too. Do not let them bother you, because it’s pure competitive jealousy. Have you ever watched a show or movie because an actor you found attractive was in it? That’s all it is. Some people watch Twitch/Mixer streams because they find the streamer attractive and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Others will watch for the content. The reality is that people can watch whatever the fuck they want to watch. If you’re enjoying making your content, keep making it, queen.
Sexual propositions, followed by aggression on rejection: This one is laughable. It boils down to a view of women as a commodity or open to possession. Sure, guys can be polite and ask out a stranger online—that’s fine, even though they have to accept their chance of success is low. They SHOULD NOT, however, get angry or offended when they’re turned down. You don’t owe them a goddamn thing. Men need to understand that women online are not there as potential girlfriends—Instagram is not their personal Tinder. It can happen, of course, but it’s important for them not to assume girls online are there to date/please/serve them. Usually, content is posted for a woman’s community, and not to entice a dude into a relationship. Ladies, just block these losers. If a milk truck jus’ arrive, please shut the door.
Mistreatment of yourself/your community: When you have an online presence, you have a community. Regulars, friends, fans—everyone who consistently enjoys your content. Your community is a representation of yourself and your brand. Do NOT let anyone mistreat it. Remember that not everyone will get along and sometimes tensions will run high, but there’s a very clear line between people just being butts and people being downright assholes. If you aren’t enjoying having them in your community and they’re being cruel to other members, you are well within your rights to cut them off. It’s your community, so curate it.
Monetary entitlement: Girl, sell your things—sell prints, sell streams, sell merch, sell your gorgeous fucking content. Never, and I mean never, let money take precedence over your morals. And I mean that purely in the sense of: don’t let the big spenders get away with too much. It can be hard, knowing someone has spent thousands of dollars on you and is now being completely unacceptable. Don’t put up with it. They don’t own you, they don’t have any special rights to you just by being a fan or purchasing merchandise, and they certainly should never be trying to control you. No amount of money is worth this. It deserves a stern talking-to or excommunication, depending on the crime.
At the end of the day, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t stop what you’re doing. Don’t change who you are because some people have skewed perceptions of how women should present themselves. Only you know what suits yourself best, and YOU know what makes yourself a good, respectable person. Do lewd shoots, do dancing streams, do sexy shit—because it’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it hurts absolutely no one.
There are tons of examples of toxic treatment of women online, but I feel like this blog post has gone on for long enough. If you have stories to share, please post them in the comments!