Content Warning: This article discusses abusive relationships and misogyny.
On Oct. 15, 2022, popular Twitch streamer Kaitlyn Siragusa (known as “Amouranth”) went live to thousands of fans in a stream much different from her typical content. The stream opened with a phone call to Siragusa’s husband, over which Siragusa implied he has exhibited extreme abusive behavior. Siragusa sat in tears, alleging that he’d threatened to kill her dogs and that he’d forced her to stream at one point. It was an incredibly vulnerable moment, viewed live by hundreds of thousands; a clip on her Twitch channel currently has almost a million views. Prior to that month, she had never disclosed details regarding her marriage before.
Over the course of this stream, as well as a follow-up stream in which Siragusa clarified some of these allegations, she alleged that her husband intentionally forced her to withhold this information. She said he claimed that by hiding her marriage, she would be able to make more money off of the “hot tub meta,” a term denoting women in scantily clad outfits sitting in inflatable hot tubs. Typically, in this genre of streaming, the women in question gain more viewers and donations by appearing to be single — this way, the top donators might feel as though they have a chance with the streamer. Though there is a huge market in this category (Siragusa herself revealed she made 35-40k a month through ads alone), Siragusa alleged she was often not doing this by choice, and that her husband was coercing her and controlling her finances.
Luckily, after coming out about her abuser, fellow streamers and fans across the Internet rallied in support of Siragusa — notable comedy creator penguinz0 spoke in support of her in a video with over five million views. While there was overwhelming support, there was also a subset of viewers who were angry at Siragusa.
Outside of more standard victim-blaming comments, such as claims that she is lying or exaggerating, one tweet in particular stands out. It reads, “Amouranth has had a husband this whole time yet I’ve been gifting 1000’s of Tier 3’s EVERY MONTH? How do you chargeback on a credit card?” Next to the clip of Siragusa crying, this text that disregards her humanity is disturbing. Yet this tweet is representative of an unfortunate reality: A significant number of Siragusa’s viewers and fans lost respect for her simply because she isn’t single.
This phenomenon runs deeper — men have not only lashed out at Siragusa for this, but at each other. Beyond platforms like Reddit, even more misogyny can be found, with men calling each other vitriolic names over their responses to information like this. After searching the subject on Looksmax, a site notably populated by incels, I instantly found a man calling an Siragusa fan a gay slur — all because the fan was upset about Siragusa having a husband (I am purposely not linking this source due to harmful content found on the site). It’s a scary atmosphere to encounter. These men want to claim a sort of ownership over her to uphold the illusion of having her for themselves — an unnerving parasocial relationship loaded with misogyny.
Sure, the notion of Twitch donors thinking they have a chance with their streamer of choice appears harmless at first, yet it becomes incredibly toxic in situations such as Siragusa’s. They fail to see her as human; her story does not matter, but only the fact that she deceived her devoted fans does. In each other’s eyes, they are now “cucks” because of the existence of her husband, and this degrading fact matters more to them than any pain she may be going through. They’re mad because they “wasted” money on her. They’re dehumanizing her for keeping her personal life a secret, for tricking them into thinking she was “on the market.” They don’t seem to care that she was abused; after all the hours they’ve sunk into watching her, the parasocial relationship has shattered, simply because she was in a relationship with another man.
Similar treatment of women can be found in the female VTuber fan community. VTubers are content creators who use 3D anime avatars as their personas. They essentially exist as characters; a majority of VTubers hide their personal life entirely from their audience, choosing only to exist as their anime avatar. Their VTuber names are separated from their real names, and their personal social media accounts are erased or kept separate as well.
Despite these strictures, however, there exists a space that seeks to expose all of these VTubers’ identities, and the atmosphere surrounding female VTubers is particularly hostile — exposing their real faces, names and relatives, as well as past and current partners. The comments on each female VTubers’ doxxing pages, especially on those who may have a partner, are filled with possessive, misogynistic language. For example, when reading through comments on one VTuber’s personal life, I saw a fan defending her for having a real-life boyfriend privately. Two replies stood out: “ok cuck” and “She wouldn’t f*** you anon.” This was one of the tamer parts of the comment section.
The behaviors of these fanbases, between Siragusa and VTubers, are depressing. There is initially hope that perhaps after hours of watching these women, they would understand to treat them with respect. However, a look down any Twitter or Reddit rabbit hole can expose countless examples of men treating these women as objects to be possessed. They are unable to live their own personal lives without being scrutinized, especially when it comes to romantic relationships — even a female fan cosplaying a VTuber was scrutinized on 4chan after users found out she was a lesbian.
As a woman myself, all I can think is, “When will it end?” A situation so serious as Siragusa’s, with her harrowing story of abuse and her admirable vulnerability, couldn’t even be respected by these types of fans. What will it take for women to gain their respect? There have been arguments proposing that streamers such as Siragusa warrant this treatment due to their involvement in more adult content creation (e.g. “She’s a slut, she knows what she’s doing” or “she’s rich anyways, it doesn’t matter”), but why should that matter? Why should someone who shows more of her body be treated with less respect? It’s abundantly clear that women who don’t create adult content still get this type of treatment, as seen on the VTuber doxxing site. These arguments against adult-focused content creators seem hollow, a thin veil to cover a trend of misogyny.
Even if improvement is being made on a surface level — such as popular male content creators rallying in support of Siragusa — there lies a misogynistic underbelly in online spaces; between doxxing sites, anonymous chatting sites and more, misogyny in these spaces prevails. Twitch has community guidelines that bar this sort of behavior, but people will find a way via other, less strict sites to continue this type of discussion. Perhaps more courageous women such as Siragusa can continue to speak up about their struggles, and these men can be further educated. However, it should not be the responsibility of these streamers to “fix” or educate their viewers. They deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else, and we must work collectively to combat this type of misogynistic language and uplift women who speak up against it.
Daily Arts Writer Katelyn Sliwinski can be reached at email@example.com.