Sexist Trolls Drive Away Twitch’s Top Female Streamer After 10 Years
Imane “Pokimane” Anys is the most-followed female gaming streamer on Twitch. However, after over ten years, she is leaving the platform due to the platform fostering a ripe environment for the manosphere.
Anys first created her Twitch account in 2013, using a blend of her name and the word Pokémon to create her well-known internet personality Pokimane, and quickly began streaming her gameplay. It was meant to be a self-reward after she reached the platinum tier of League of Legends. Within four short years, she was among Twitch’s top 100 most-followed accounts.
Today, she sits at 9.3 million followers, making her the top female streamer on the platform. To get to this point, she dropped out of college to focus on gaming full-time and spent years building the Pokimane brand and strategically capitalizing on trendy games like Fortnite. Additionally, she simply had a wonderful personality that made viewers excited to watch her game streams. However, her career hasn’t been wholly without problems. Anys has frequently faced sexist claims that she’s only successful because she’s attractive and once was even forced to apologize to viewers for keeping her relationship private when men accused her of tricking them into supporting her by pretending to be single.
Unfortunately, it appears the harassment she faced has worsened recently, prompting her to leave Twitch behind altogether.
Why is Imane Anys leaving Twitch?
Anys’ departure from Twitch wasn’t entirely abrupt. Back in 2022, she took a temporary hiatus from the platform. Upon her return, she discussed how the biggest reason for the break was to explore different social media platforms, which she noted boasted a wider audience. Anys specifically mentioned enjoying the female audience on TikTok, whereas Twitch has a less varied audience of predominantly male gamers. Hence, some may not have been surprised on January 30, 2024, when Anys announced that the time had come to leave Twitch.
She later addressed the situation in detail on an episode of her podcast, don’t tell anyone with pokimane. In the episode, she mentioned burnout and the wish to be free from exclusivity deals that required her to hit a certain number of hours and kept her from other opportunities. However, she explained the biggest problem was that the platform wasn’t developing as she wanted it to.
Anys reminisced about the period during the pandemic when the platform was booming, boasting a greater female demographic and making her feel “so much more seen and heard.” However, she feels like Twitch isn’t like that today and, in her perspective, “has regressed a lot,” especially in terms of “the rise of so much manosphere and red pill b******t.” “Manosphere” refers to the growing online community and resources devoted to promoting misogyny and spreading the false claim that men are oppressed by the rise of feminism. The manosphere has fostered incels, Men Going Their Own Way, and “men’s rights” activists, with those falling for these ideals described as “taking the red pill.”
Anys opted not to go into the details, as she mentioned her followers would know “who and what” she was talking about and the experiences she had. However, she did mention dealing with men commenting these twisted ideals on her streams and accused some “figureheads” of the industry of actively promoting these ideals and behaviors, too. Ultimately, she found that she no longer agreed with the kind of community that is thriving on Twitch and the “s**t spewing” it is doing, so she left.
Why doesn’t Twitch protect its female streamers?
The fact that Anys feels her only option is to leave Twitch raises the question of why the platform isn’t doing more to approach its misogyny problem. As Anys pointed out, the platform is actually actively contributing to this toxic environment by endorsing problematic streamers, such as Trainwrecks, who went on a hate-filled misogynistic rant after boasting about being part of Twitch’s Partner program. Also, moderation can’t be too strong if men are frequently able to spam Anys comments with incel rhetoric.
Twitch should be especially vigilant about harassment and sexism on the platform, given that female streamers need the most protection. Although nearly all female influencers face harassment online, female streamers on Twitch are specifically targeted because, as Vice explained, men get sick pleasure in watching “the impact of their insults in real-time.” Unfortunately, social media as a whole does very little to protect women from the growing threat of harassment and stalking. Some women are even blamed for the harassment they face, accused of inviting in the abuse by being online and trying to support themselves.
There’s no excuse for not cracking down on the manosphere groups that tend to congregate on platforms like Twitch. “Trolling” is far too light a word to describe what these men are doing online. Women have opened up about receiving the darkest and most vile messages one could possibly imagine, including detailed threats of violence, sexual harassment, and intense body shaming. Some women receive these messages on a daily basis and genuinely live in fear for their safety but don’t have the means to leave their online-facing careers. Hopefully, the loss of its top female streamer will finally motivate Twitch to act before its platform becomes known for little more than fostering the manosphere.
(featured image: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty)
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