is a writer and journalist from the US. Outside of her work on RT, she is a primary writer for Colin Moriarty’s Side Quest content, and she manages her own YouTube channel. Follow her on Twitter @SophNar0747
2020 isn’t done with us yet. In an act of progressive seppuku, one of the world’s largest streaming platforms gave a position of power to a girl who thinks she’s a woodland creature, and the internet is having none of it.
Twitch streamer FerociouslySteph is a male-to-female trans woman who self-identifies as a deer. In multiple videos making the rounds, she discusses prancing outside, eating grass, and she can be seen practically orgasming as her partner gives her ‘scritches.’ Adding a fun twist to this juicy cocktail of internet absurdity is that, if her makeshift antlers are any indication, she identifies as a male deer.
Crazy identifiers aside, it’s her personal views that have the internet in a frenzy after Twitch put her on its newly formed ‘Safety Advisory Council.’ The council is described by the platform as a group that will help “inform and guide decisions” and partake in drafting new policies, updating existing ones, developing products to improve safety, and creating plans to protect the interests of so-called marginalized groups, among other things.
So why is the internet aflutter over Bambi in particular? Well her roleplay isn’t very good, and unlike your average doe, she doesn’t keep quiet and instead voices controversial opinions. She’s vocal in her belief that gamers are white supremacists, she thinks white men’s opinions don’t matter, and she wants voice chat in competitive gaming disabled because in her eyes it is unfair to marginalized people.
One could say the situation is pretty ‘bucked’ up.
Dazzled by the sheer surrealism of this coming from a TRANS-DEER, one risks overlooking the more serious fact that this is also coming from someone with ties to the Anti-Defamation League, which over the last short while has been trying to infiltrate the gaming space to enact its own draconian measures. For instance, it blames Steam for harboring extremists, and it’s a big proponent of censoring free speech. The group constantly demands more changes be made to combat hateful conduct online and its worked with Google and other big tech companies to do just that. On its list of hate symbols, it includes the OK hand gesture, so ‘hate’ in this context is used quite loosely. When applied to gaming, it’s easy to jump to conclusions as to what will fall under the hateful banner.
Currently there’s no clear evidence the ADL played a part in creating Twitch’s new council, though I wouldn’t be surprised if behind the scenes they’re providing a guiding hand. Steph has her own page on the ADL website, and she has an openly friendly relationship with Daniel Kelley, the assistant director of the Center for Technology and Society. The goal of that arm of the ADL is to work with tech platforms on stemming “cyberhate” and online harassment.
A connection between the ADL and Twitch would explain why a relatively unknown streamer who is as… unique as this individual is, was able to snag a spot on a small committee of just eight people. Some of whom aren’t even streamers but ‘experts’ on bullying. But connection or no connection, her placement stands out as something probably fueled by nepotism.
I know in 2020 the world is topsy turvy and upside down and we’re all falling into a post-modern celestial chaos filled with furries and otherkins, almost as if Tumblr was the seventh seal of the apocalypse and letting it collapse doomed us to a hell-scape of progressive absurdism, but if the end goal of the council is to enact platform-wide changes that help snuff out harassment, then Steph’s placement raises some alarms.
I refuse to believe no one saw the backlash that would present itself. A transgender identifying deer who goes on rants against the evils of the white man – never mind she used to be one herself – and who displays other signs of severe mental illness being given a spot on a council that could impact millions of streamers was no doubt going to cause a reactionary explosion. What are her qualifications? Last I checked, eating grass isn’t good on a resume.
If I were a tinfoil-hat wearer, I’d believe that Steph was sent out to the slaughter as a form of martyrdom. People at the company have to know she’s not all there in the head and that the internet would react. A move which the cynic in me sees as beneficial to organizations that seek change. She’s being criticized en masse, which the game industry clique is already beginning to label as a hate campaign aimed at a trans woman, and all of this could feasibly give Twitch “justification” further down the line to clamp down on speech.
The company did after all just start cracking down on the use of ‘simp’ emojis, citing – you guessed it – harassment.
The problem with Twitch, the ADL, and countless other companies and organizations is that ‘hate’ these days is applied to anything and everything. Steph, by a wide margin, isn’t being attacked because she’s trans, though I will concede that there is some transphobic abuse, but she is largely being criticized because she is a bigot who openly tells white-SOUNDING men that their voices don’t matter. Even though she too sounds like a dorky white boy. If no one saw her face or knew she was trans, it’d be understandable if someone misgendered her, so for her to negate other’s opinions simply for how they sound says a whole lot about what type of person she is.
It also says a lot about what type of community Twitch is trying to curate. On a small committee of eight, having just one person who is so openly resentful of male gamers is a sign that, in its pursuit of pleasing the progressive crowd, they will bend the knee to the worst among them. If I was on Twitch, I’d delete my account.
Oh wait, I did that before writing this. Maybe more should take a stand, too.