Twitch is a live, video-streaming service focused on broadcasting people playing computer games, board games and role-playing games, cooking, eating and making art. You might think that’s quite niche, but BBC News estimates that it has 15 million daily active users and more than 2.2 million people use it to stream their gaming sessions.
Early in its existence, good looking women, perhaps showing a little cleavage, discovered that geek-boys enjoyed watching them play, translating to a popular channel and entry into Twitch’s monetised partnership program. Dubbed “booby streamers”, the number of these women has exploded in recent months, prompting a wave of complaints. It’s partly parents, discovering that the streams their children are watching are more flesh than game, but this new wave of content producers is also selling sexual services via their Twitch bios, with links to explicit cam sites or Patreon accounts where more explicit videos or photo-sets are for sale.
Terms of Service on Twitch are vague, so it’s leading to a lot of differing opinions in the gaming forums. Not much is being done at the moment, but most users agree that if advertisers start to pull their support, Twitch will probably act quickly to tighten up their guidelines.
Glamour Magazine spoke to 15 Sex Workers on Why — and How — They Got Into Business. They include porn performers, cam models and dominatrices. Financial freedom, self esteem and the ability to travel are certainly mentioned as reasons for the choice, but many of them emphasised how they use their platforms to draw attention to social causes, highlight the contributions of marginalized communities, and help destigmatise sex.
Toxic Masculinity. You’ll have seen the term used many times by now, but what does it actually mean? In Advocate’s article What Is Toxic Masculinity this week, they hedge on the side of “it depends”, saying:
Not entirely unlike wind, gravity, and love, toxic masculinity isn’t something that can be held in your hands, turned over, and inspected. But despite its intangibility, we know it when we see it from its effects.
There really isn’t a clear-cut answer, and the etymology is hazy. There was a period in the ’80s and ’90s where the pendulum had swung towards men examining their feminine sides and began to swing back, with some claiming it was to the detriment of their “male rituals”. There was a small movement of men bonding in the wilderness and in sweat lodges, attempting to rediscover their “deep masculinity”.
But, when does “deep masculinity” become toxic?
Amanda Marcotte, writing for Salon, sees it as a product of fear:
Toxic masculinity is a specific model of manhood, geared toward dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act, not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world. Toxic masculinity aspires to toughness but is, in fact, an ideology of living in fear: The fear of ever seeming soft, tender, weak, or somehow less than manly. This insecurity is perhaps the most stalwart defining feature of toxic masculinity.
It’s a difficult term, because it’s ultimately a value judgement. One person’s “toxic” is another person’s “manly”, and it’s an argument that no-one can win. The Guardian might think that it’s something that is palpable, dangerous and solvable, while Fox News might think that the problem is not toxic masculinity at all, but bad behaviour by individuals.
One thing is for sure, we’re likely to continue to see the term being used more and more in the media. If you’re not quite sure how you would draw the boundaries, check out this 4 minute video from Tracy Gilchrist for Advocate.
You may ask yourself… what does a Trump video have to do with kink? The answer is, not much (but of course if you do have a kink for Trump, that’s OK… I just don’t consent to watch). I’ve put it here as an example of face-swap technology. It was once something that high-end post-production studios did, but now it’s available to play with on your home PC. There are various video editing programs that support it, and it’s even part of the Adobe CC suite of graphic programs.
I bet you wouldn’t be shocked if I told you that there are people out there using it to create celebrity porn.
On the topic of porn, if you were around in the late 70s and early 80s, you might recall it as something of a golden era of adult cinema. It also saw a boom in the number of adult movie theatres. There were once 750 of them scattered around the US (and you can still find one if you look hard enough). Paris, the city of Moulin Rouge, had 44, but the last one is set to close at the end of this year when its owner retires. Maurice Laroche has managed Le Beverley for 35 years, and is proud of the range of movies it shows, which Atlas Obscura calls “a well-curated menu of smut”.
Feature Image: Detail from One In The Waves (2017) by David Dupuis