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  • Writer's pictureDave Stanley

English 876: Week 8-Bodies in Civic and Public Spaces

Discussion Question:

In the previous two weeks, we have primarily looked at bodies in civic and public spaces. The brings up many questions about the nature of bodies as well as the nature of such spaces. Whose bodies are allowed? Whose bodies are seen? Who is enabled to bear witness? What actions and behaviors are appropriate, acceptable, effective? What happens as bodies multiply into masses of bodies? How do issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationhood, community, (etc.) play out in such spaces? How are spaces controlled and governed? Grab ahold of some of these thoughts and work them through your own interests, perhaps even through your own recent interventionist experience in front of some form of public in some form of space.


The particulars of how bodies act in public spaces is one that is fascinating to me. In regards to my particular interests, the thing that immediately occurs to me, is Twitch streaming. This is an act of digital broadcast entertainment that, like much of the rest of visual mediums, makes the body a key component of communication. However on Twitch a considerable amount is done to consider and police the bodies of those who stream. I think in particular of women streamers, who are often subject to significantly more scrutiny based on their appearance and clothes than male streamers are. There has been a considerable amount of discourse surrounding the prescience of female streamers on Twitch, and even more "discourse" trying to sus out their "true motivations." In truth this is simply a sexist dogwhistle that gives male streamers and audience members an excuse to hate on any female streamer, under the guise of traditional "decency." If a woman on Twitch isn't concerned with making money, the exact same as her male counter parts, then she is suddenly in authentic. In addition, no matter how she dresses, she is "using her sexuality" to earn credit with her audience and gain donations.

The above video is a prime example of how male audience members and streamers seem to think female streamers behave. Huge numbers of video compilations of female streamers "acting like bitches" when they appear angry at the level of disrespect and harassment they receive is treat as "cringe worthy." At the same time there are many examples of male streamers setting their own massively sexist screeds and rants to epic music and "telling it how it is" when they dump massively sexist and gatekeeping rhetoric on their audience. I find the double standard here, particularly when these male streamers complain about "subs being stolen" in reference to possible missed revenue from paid subscriptions to their channel, to be just horrendous.

To return to the question of bodies, the particular usage of rhetoric surrounding how female streamers are "selling their sexuality" is simply stunning. Male streamers can get away with wearing anything and being as messy as they like, acting like a complete fool, ranting and screaming about women, getting views for their childish anger, and many many many other examples. Twitch, due to community pressure, updated their rules regarding attire when streaming, which, as usual, was massively over focused on women. They indicate that context is important, but focus almost entirely on the list of complaints made about female streamers in their statement dated March 2nd 2018. Besides the irrational anger this policing of women's bodies, and gamer gate style gatekeeping instills in me, it also promotes and radicalizes the Twitch audience, in a very public space, making them unsafe for women. You simply cannot be a public facing women on Twitch without taking serious heat, and the rhetoric therein ensures that the comment sections and audiences, who are the source of all revenue on Twitch, are massively over aggressive and hateful to women. Its no wonder that most members of 4chan & 8chan have found homes on Twitch as well.

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