Microsoft-owned streaming service Mixer is catching some heat over its rules concerning appropriate clothes, which seem to penalize women specifically. They certainly seem unnecessarily specific about restricting all but the most conservatively-dressed streamers to 18+ channels.
After Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, formerly the world’s most popular Twitch streamer, revealed he’d be streaming with Mixer full time, the site got more of a spotlight than it’s had up to this point. Before now, it was a curious Twitch alternative, Microsoft‘s attempt to dethrone the Amazon-owned juggernaut. I don’t want to say Ninja’s migration somehow legitimizes the platform — but it’s sure getting much more attention now than it did before.
With that attention comes scrutiny, and one of the things new users found questionable was Mixer’s rules on how streamers can dress. One of the first people to apparently call attention to it was Emily “Fremily” Bello, a Twitch streamer, who posted a screenshot of the rules:
Behold Mixers 'Rating Specific clothing guidelines'.
Anyone else wildly uncomfortable at the idea of any visible skin not being family friendly??
Crop tops or visible shoulders are always 18+. Seems archaic and backwards. pic.twitter.com/iIOKjLvdnO
— Emily Bello ⚡ #TwitchLDN (@EmStreams) August 2, 2019
So to be clear: if you show skin lower than “a few inches above the bust line” (basically, the neck), then you must put an age gate around your stream.
As if that wasn’t uncomfortable enough, the actual page that outlines the rules defines the term “bust-line” thus [emphasis mine, only because I had to reread that last part a few times just to make sure I hadn’t had a stroke): “On male presenting and female presenting this is the widest area below the shoulders and above the end of the rib cage. Where a bra or pasties would be worn.”
Mixer, you’re not for real with this, are you?
(Side note: Mixer refers to the skeleton so many times in its description of body parts I started humming “Dem Bones” under my breath while reading the rules.)
Speaking as someone who was already thoroughly acquainted with Mixer before now, even I didn’t know its dress code was so… draconian. And while the word “cleavage” could theoretically be used to refer to anyone’s chest, regardless of gender, it does skew feminine. Using terms like “bust,” “strapless,” or “crop top” also makes the rules seem as though they’re aimed at women. It comes across as mildly insulting that Mixer’s essentially saying a woman must list her stream as 18+ if she wants to wear anything less restrictive than a crew-neck t-shirt.
That said, there’s probably a reason for this: Mixer pays out streamers from private Microsoft coffers, rather than letting them rely entirely on subs or tips. I’ve praised this system of internal currency before, as it allowed streamers to collect a paycheck from their streams without having to rely on the pockets of their viewers. But with that comes the parent company having an even tighter grip on the reins.
Twitch isn’t exactly innocent in all this — it got into a kerfluffle last week when a streaming mother questioned its rules on breastfeeding and essentially got the site to admit it’d never confronted the topic before. When it changed its rules on clothing last year, they seemed unnecessarily focused on women as well. As they currently stand, all Twitch’s rules demand is that streamers where things that’d be appropriate to wear in public.
Mixer’s CEO Matt Salsamendi sort of encapsulated the whole debate during a stream a few days ago when he seemed to address the issue of clothing specifically:
Twitch has struggled with things like enforcement for a long time, because it’s a hard problem to solve. One of the things we did early on to try to get ahead of that stuff was making our rules of conduct as clear and objective as possible, so that you know if you’re doing something wrong. There’s not really a gray area. If you look at our code of conduct as it relates to clothing, we outlined the exact requirements, in terms of clothing, at each different rating on Mixer. That’s just one of the things we do on that front, to make it really clear.
As for how Twitch is doing, it seems to be taking the departure of its golden boy with good humor. This is what you see when you visit the page for his defunct channel:
We’ve reached out to Mixer for more information.