For women on Twitch, disclosing their relationship status is a minefield

For women on Twitch, disclosing their relationship status is a minefield

With rumpled bed sheets filling the frame behind him, a YouTuber unearths a digital trail of photographs, old forum posts, and messages. He is here to tell his audience about a transgression by a Twitch personality who, in his estimation, is taking advantage of her audience. It is a story as old as time: here is a woman, once again using her feminine wiles to trick men, and the men, fools that they are, can’t help but fall for it. Luckily, he is here to expose her deceit.

The video, which accuses Twitch streamer Amouranth of supposedly hiding her marital status to entice hopeful viewers into donating thousands of dollars to her, has been watched nearly 250,000 times, discussed and picked apart on social media, and inspired a bevy of news articles.

When big YouTubers break up, they often have to announce it to their audiences just to make sure nobody gets blamed and harassed for ending the relationship

While Amouranth’s situation may seem like a bizarre isolated incident, many women on Twitch say that being on the platform means navigating complicated expectations from viewers, especially when it comes to relationships. Some viewers expect romantic availability from women streamers, or demand to know their relationship status before investing in them. Other times, viewers can cross a line and become possessive or entitled toward the women they watch on Twitch. Streamers, in turn, have to make tough decisions about how they present to their audience, and how much they decide to share when both concealing or disclosing their romantic relationship can come with a cost.

Amouranth, a streamer with 39 million views who is known for broadcasting in cosplay attire, denies that she is hiding anything from her audience. “People don’t donate to me because they think it improves their chances with me in some romantic way anymore than do people donate to large male streamers because they fantasize about a romantic engagement with Soda, Lirik or Ninja,” she tells The Verge.

Since the video has been released, Amourath says there’s been some fallout. “I have had seven unsolicited food deliveries (a popular way to harass streamers) and two unidentified people snooping around my residence after dark,” she continues. “I think the video creator should be held accountable for putting me in real physical danger.”

The YouTuber who put the first video up disputes that he is directly responsible for any of these violations, but also says that viewers have offered him all sorts of personal information on Amouranth – ranging from addresses to recorded phone conversations with family members – so it’s clear that people are digging into her private life in the aftermath of the video, even if not explicitly directed to do so.

Amourath’s woes are hardly unique within the context of fame. Audience obsession over the romantic lives of celebrities spans across popular media, whether there’s gossip about Drake’s latest fling or forensic investigations of the latest Taylor Swift album for evidence of new flames. Appearing sexually available is particularly important for some music idols abroad, who sometimes have contracts that do not allow them to date anyone for the sake of the fans. With social media, and the illusion of intimacy it can create, that entitlement has only gotten worse. Social media might have created a new class of celebrity, but influencers still have to grapple with an audience that is hungry to learn more about the romantic lives of their favorite creators – typically without any of the support or riches that traditional celebrity begets.

The fantasy this relationship ambiguity affords is effective, but it has also built up a type of celebrity fandom that feels entitled to an entertainer

Recently, Twitch’s biggest broadcaster, Ninja, revealed that he does not play Fortnite with women because he’s afraid that fans will take a small interaction out of context and start rumors about them dating. On the more extreme end, live streamers like Ice Poseidon have even let viewers dictate who they’re romantically involved with, turning their personal lives into an interactive game.

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