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‘Streamer’ does not only take the masculine form

Article author :

Jil Theunissen

Evolving between law, media, culture and new technologies, Jil has recently started an official hat collection. In her spare time and often at night, she writes various contents ranging from columns to legal texts, and develops somewhat hybrid projects mixing the various disciplines mentioned above.

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They are linguists, actresses, presenters, engineers, musicians, 3D modellers. They are also gamers, online chat moderators, champions, programme and podcast creators. Together, they form a continuously evolving community, consisting of mutual aid, collaborations and above all content as varied as it is original. A deep dive into the singular world of female streaming, and a meeting with Stream’her, the French-speaking female streamers collective.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking news to claim that life on Twitch is not, on the face of it, a bed of roses for women or people from minority backgrounds, no matter what they might be.


Twitch is the live-streaming platform established by Amazon. On it creators stream their activities, in other words, they broadcast them live, before an audience of viewers, who interact live by means of a ‘chat’. Whilst at the beginning, the platform was dedicated to the sharing of video games, it is now possible to broadcast all types of content on it.

Nevertheless, steeped as it is in the practices of video gaming, Twitch has retained many of its codes, the bad as well as the good, which are not always pleasant (and even terribly aggressive) for anyone who is not a gamer, male and white. Ranging from troll attacks to cyber-harassment, we have all heard tell of the damage which can befall a woman streamer owing to the act of streaming.

However, whilst it is obviously vital to denounce and to battle against the aggressions a number of them are the victims of, it is also useful to remind ourselves that at the same time women streamers are getting organised, are meeting one another, and are forging an ever-wider path for themselves on the platform, developing content and initiatives which richly deserve to be discovered.

Ilaria Giglio et Chloé Boels à la Click & Chips © Pumpkin Chill

Making visible and supporting female streamers

Showcasing women streamers and enabling them to offer each other help is the goal of the Stream’her collective, overseen by Chloé (CHLOE on Twitch) and Ilaria (Ila_tortuga), two Belgian twenty-six-year-old women streamers.

The project came into being at the beginning of 2020, in the midst of the lockdown, when Chloé, an avid student of video games, decided to create her Twitch channel. Her immediate observations were two-fold: women were scarcely visible on the platform, and there did not appear to be a space where they could support one another or ask questions specific to developing a channel. ‘At the time, I was a member of numerous women’s support groups, in particular related to my studies. I thought it would be great to have the same dynamic for the stream.’

She therefore created Stream’her, in the form of a website and a Discord server (a discussion forum) where women streamers are invited to share their questions and experiences. Chloé was very quickly joined at the controls by Ilaria, who regularly frequented the same lecture theatres as she did, and they decided to develop the project as a duo.

When people talk about women and streaming, it is nearly always in the context of aggressions, what women streamers are subjected to. Whereas what counts first and foremost is that the women involved in streaming are doing a whole range of things

Three years later, the collective has over 1,000 members across the French-speaking world, from Belgium to Quebec. Stream’her takes the form of a variety of sections and activities: first of all, a site listing all of the member streamers, and the social networks on which each week one of the group is spotlighted. The collective also has a presence on Twitch, with a ‘team’, in other words, a page which redirects visitors to the members’ channels and which broadcasts their contents each in their turn. Alongside these features the two entrepreneurs have developed a training package earmarked for apprentice video makers, in collaboration with the city of Brussels and the Girleek association. Stream’her is also involved with (yes, they really do a whole load of things) events, tournaments and live broadcasts in aid of charities, much as the recent Stream for Trees, by means of which 70 women streamers collected over 15,000 Euros to enable the planting of 300 trees at Evere, Brussels, at the end of 2022.

But the core of the project is first and foremost its Discord: a sprawling forum which brings together over 1,000 members, teeming with channels (discussion rooms), packed with questions, bits of advice, personal accounts, by and for female streamers, be they wannabes, debutants, developing their activity or emphatically professional. Do you need viewers for a first live stream? Moderators to help filter unsolicited messages on the chat? Legal advice concerning a partnership with a brand, advice on such or such type of sponsoring? All of that is available, gathered together in one single space.

Invitation au serveur Discord de Stream’her – © Discord / Stream’her

Solidarity, raids and discovering new finds

What immediately leaps out on its Discord server, and which is quickly confirmed on Twitch, is the community spirit and sense of solidarity which seems to have been forged between these women streamers. When they are not streaming jointly and supporting one another on their respective chats, it is not unusual to see one of them, at the end of their live stream, organise a raid (also known as sending all of their viewers) on somebody else’s channel, thus leading to a new community to discover its contents. This is what Morgan of Glencoe, a female streamer followed by 6,400 people, emphasises in particular: ‘I love this aspect of discovering something new combined with sisterhood. Just today, during my live stream, I received three raids, including two by women. At the end of my live, I myself launched a raid on another woman streamer. I make a point of often carrying out raids on women. It is important to show that we exist.’

Raids which from time to time allow completely unexpected channels to be discovered. Because streaming is not only about video games: a quite impressive variety of content can be found on Twitch, from embroidery to press reviews, from painting to political or literary programmes, and taking in simple conversations between women streamers and their viewers. On it can also be found communities of all sizes, with some channels numbering several thousands of followers, and others levelling out at a few hundred, broadcasting their lives to an average audience of ten or so people: ‘which is also wonderful,’ points out Ilaria, ‘because that allows you create a special connection with people, to talk about many different subjects, to share more things than you would on a channel involving more people.’

Create a community which reflects who you are

What makes the essence of a Twitch channel is of course the content broadcast by the streamer, but also, and even primarily, the interactions she maintains with her community. The whole package contributes to providing each channel with a specific vibe, establishing its own identity, a mixture of the broadcast content and the conversations with, and on, the chat.

A chat on which can be found, besides the followers, perfect strangers, unidentified people, turning up following the whims of the recommendations of the platform. Now, on Twitch you come across as many trolls as good-hearted ‘Care Bears’: inappropriate observations about someone’s physique, the ‘go back to your kitchen’ comments and other gratuitous insults are therefore commonplace, even automatic, when it is not a question of raids carried out by bots (by means of which an ill-intentioned viewer sends hundreds or even thousands of fake followers all at once to the streamer’s channel, with the aim of intimidating them or to have them run the risk of being removed from Twitch for dishonesty), or messages or conduct which are much more problematic. The risk of this type of incursion is particularly prevalent amongst new channels, whose chats are not visited by many people yet.

A community may thus very quickly spin out of control if you are not vigilant, all the more so if you are a woman. Hence the need, from the very beginning, to firmly regulate the conversations.

‘Your community, you make it in your own image,’ explains Jarm0u, a woman gamer followed by over 5,800 people. ‘If you allow people to say all types of nonsense on your chat, the blokes will feel more emboldened and won’t hold back. I want people to feel great and safe on my channel, so I establish very strict rules straightaway. For example, no comments on physique, be they positive or negative. None, never, not even to get a laugh. The slightest bit of misconduct, I pull them back into line.’ A supervision which, whilst it might appear harsh to some, in reality opens the way to other conversations, more interesting and qualitative, as Morgan underlines. ‘From that moment onwards, people start commenting on other things, asking you real, interesting questions, and it’s there that the conversation really begins.’

Advice therefore to any woman streamer who wants to get started in this domain: define clear rules for the discussions, and have no hesitation in pulling back into line those who do not respect them.a

© Twitch – Live de Jarm0u (31/03/2023 – Speedrun de Tintin au Tibet)

Moderation, the thorny art of monitoring

And this is where moderation comes in, another essential practice for whoever wishes to maintain a respectful mood on her channel.

On Twitch, the majority of streamers can count on several ‘mods,’ a kind of inner circle praetorian guard, more often than not consisting of regular viewers. They receive specific access to the chat, with the mission of following its discussions and filtering out unsolicited messages, so that the channel’s host can concentrate on its content. A vital task, sometimes thankless, most of the time carried out on a voluntary basis, which once again illustrates the strength of the collective spirit on Twitch. Because moderating requires a special commitment, if only in terms of time, as live streams frequently stretch over several hours: ‘You have to focus on everything that is said and make assessments quickly, which requires a specific intellectual receptiveness,’ points out Haedenn, a moderator. ‘It’s no picnic, believe me, but I think it is important to help out certain channels which speak to me. It is crucial to have a safe chat when you are streaming because you are really laying yourself bare.’ A subtle task as well, which requires finding the right balance between the messages you do or don’t delete, and which differs according to each streamer: ‘you have to remind yourself that it is not your own channel which you are moderating, but that of the streamer, with their codes, their limits.’ Hence the importance of sharing certain values. It is in this spirit that several female streamers take particular care to recruit female moderators to their team, who are at times more adept at distinguishing the sexist character of certain comments which appear ‘well-meaning’ at first glance.

It for that matter comes as no surprise to discover amongst the Discord channels managed by Stream’her a room specifically dedicated to finding female moderators, allowing women streamers to lend a helping hand when needed, for the duration of a specific live stream, or on a more regular basis. ‘This system is great,’ comments Jarm0u. ‘It’s such a relief that we can just get on with it, that there is no need to worry, that some monitoring is being taken care of so you can broadcast your content in peace.’

The backseat driver, or ‘no, you mustn’t do it like that, wait, I’ll explain it to you…’

When one imagines the type of comments the women moderators have to filter, one immediately thinks of attacks, sexist, racist or abusive comments. Yet, it turns out that they tend to self-regulate as the community grows in a well-defined manner. On the other hand, what the chats are teeming with, less problematic at first sight because not fundamentally malicious, but nevertheless symptomatic of the ratio of women to men on Twitch, are backseat messages. By which is meant unasked for game playing advice: ‘You have to imagine having someone behind you who is constantly telling you what to do, who wants to run everything instead of you,’ explains Chloé. ‘“Go there, take that weapon, go left, right.” I just want to tell them that it’s fine, I know how to play, I can hold a controller,’ points out Balicke, another of the collective’s female gamers.

If backseat drivers can be observed on all the chats of the live streams dedicated to video games, whether they are broadcast by men or women, they are a particularly noticeable presence when women streamers are involved, where the phenomenon takes on more specific forms. As Haedenn points out: ‘with women streamers, the tone used is much more paternalistic. They say to you: “wait, I’ll explain, because you don’t know how to do it.” Whereas the advice given to male streamers is more neutral, expressed as simple directions, equal to equal.’

backseat drivers for that matter are a phenomenon amongst all of the female gamers, no matter their level, sometimes objectively a lot higher than that of the viewers concerned. Take the particular example of Jarm0u, ranked 7th in the world for Super Mario Kart, and the Belgian No.1, who regularly has to deal with comments made by viewers offering agitated advice: “’Oh, I was awesome at this game when I was young! You should take that shortcut, use this character.” So, let me explain, Jean-Eudes, in the world there are 6 people who are better than I am; I know who they are, and you are not one of them.’ She continues: ‘one day, there was someone who got me so annoyed that I played a game of speedrun (NB: a discipline aiming to finish a game as fast as possible) to relax. I was so irritated that I smashed the world record.’ So, Jean-Eudes, shut the door on your way out.

© Twitch : live de CHLOÉ (31/03/22 – SIFU)

Spotlighting the female streamers, a vector of identification and motivation

Besides helping and supporting one another, we could never emphasise it strongly enough, observing what others are doing: that helps, that inspires, that instils confidence. Spotlighting female streamers to encourage others to get started and/or to persevere is for that matter one of the objectives pursued by Chloé and Ilaria by means of Stream’her: ‘if I had seen more girls playing Dark Souls (games which are considered to be extremely difficult, and thus often labelled ‘male’), I maybe wouldn’t have waited so long before giving it a go,’ explains Chloé, who incidentally turns out to be exceptionally gifted at the discipline.

Whilst we are still on this idea, let us end by offering several profiles of the Stream’hers we were given the opportunity of meeting:


The Belgian No.1 for Super Mario Kart, and has been since 7 years ago, each year without exception. 7 is also her ranking amongst the world’s best. Jarm0u in addition holds several speedrun records, and takes part in several of the discipline’s major events, such as Speedons, a Parisian charity mega-marathon. Last year she was the only female player amongst … 70 participants, and had no qualms about publicly denouncing this lack of balance. Active on Twitch since the first lockdown, the streamer, who is also an actress, has a high regard for the values of feminism, inclusiveness and more widely the social conscience which drives her, to which her numerous punchlines testify (we strongly recommend her live streams to you), as does her regular participation on socially committed charity lives such as Et ta cause (against sexist and sexual violence), or more recently, ‘Piquet de stream’ (Stream Picket Line), in support of French strikers.


The woman streamer offers her 740 followers content primarily focused on video gaming. She has also created a monthly programme, A Room of One’s Own, a reference to Virginia Woolf’s eponymous essay, aiming to highlight the work and/or condition of women streamers, by means of round tables and discussions. The programme touches on themes as varied as broadening activism amongst the population, books and streaming, parasocial relationships, each time interviewing different female streamers, whom she recruits via the Discord server run by Stream’her. Balicke also moderates Chloé’s channel.


Chloé is the (co) founder of Stream’her, but she is a lot more than that. She also has her own channel, which has 13,900 followers. Her content leans primarily towards video games, which she streams each morning, when she is not once a month organising a live … cooking session! A professional gamer, she can regularly be found on Discord, responding to one question or another. Chloé in addition moderates the channel run by Ilaria, her partner at the helm of Stream’her, alias Ila_Tortuga, connecting a small community of 245 followers, in a cosy atmosphere, alternating quiet games and embroidery.

Morgan of Glencoe

‘In the Twitch landscape I am a bit of an oddity.’ And for good reason. Morgan is a professional musician who plays the… Celtic harp. Her channel came into being during the lockdown, when she began filming her daily practice sessions, musically accompanying her viewer’s remote working mornings. She has a community numbering over 6,000 people, many of whom had no idea the instrument even existed before discovering Morgan. Her channel aims to be primarily pedagogical, and also dispenses writing and storytelling workshops. Morgan is, moreover, the all-category champion of the super strict rules of chats, the best way, in her opinion, to avoid inappropriate behaviour during the discussions. And it seems to be working: only a single person banned in 6 months, with the rest of the community toeing the line.

Besides Stream’her, we will also highlight, amongst the ranks of the best known female streamers, French-speaking profiles such as Maghla, Ultia and Damdam. On a global level, Chloé mentions MissMikkaa, who has no hesitation in playing not one but two games of Dark Souls simultaneously, at the controller on the one hand, on the dance mat on the other, when she is not hacking a guitar to work the various controls of a game.

Like streaming, video games feature heavily, and we will conclude by drawing attention to several collectives and associations specific to the sector, which are also contributing to bringing about changes, such as Women In Games, WitchGamez and Afrogameuses, which aims to bring greater visibility to and support for Afro-descendent video gamers and professionals.

© Cottonbro studio

Being a female streamer still involves its share of discrimination, obstacles and difficulties, it is undeniable.

Nonetheless, if we had to emphasise only a few aspects of this deep dive into a She gendered Twitch, we would underline the mutual assistance, the collaboration, dare we say the sisterhood (go on, we dare) which stand out from the initiatives and practices we observed. A horizontality, a solidarity-based encouragement allowing the development of astonishing content, the resolute taking of positions, relentless gaming. As if by means of raids, Discords, moderating, tournaments and an endless flow of live streams, women streamers are reappropriating on Twitch the codes which had earlier served to exclude them. We might almost be inclined to thank COVID for having placed everyone in lockdown and thus enabling these badasses to start streaming.

Cet article est réalisé dans le cadre du projet Propulsion by KIKK – Women in digital.

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