What do Mike Pence and Fortnite player Ninja have in common? Unfortunately more than you might think. Twitch users and news outlets are drawing comparisons between the scary politician and former Drake competitor thanks to their sexist approach to interacting with other women: they don’t.
The famous 27-year-old streamer told Polygon over the weekend that he doesn’t “play with female gamers.” This declaration is backed by some pretty half-baked reasoning: he’s afraid playing Fortnite with women will ruin his marriage. “Even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever,” he explained.
To give Ninja, whose real name is Tyler Blevins, the benefit of the doubt, he’s attempting to be respectful to his wife. But the reality is that statements and actions that exclude women from participating and gaining exposure through his platform is straight up sexism. Yes, he’s being discriminatory and punishing women based on the flimsy logic that a rumor could crumble his marriage.
We don’t need to go into the ancient history of sexism in the video game industry, but attitudes like Blevin’s perpetuate it. In turn, rampant sexism in industries like gaming opens the door to actual violence, such was the case in #GamerGate.
Some believe that until women are brought into mainstream platforms like Ninja’s, sexism and sexist rhetoric around what many misogynistic gamers call “Twitch thots” will continue. But other gamers are more sympathetic to Ninja and respect his decision, calling Polygon's interview clickbait.
Maybe it’s not Ninja’s fault that other streamers tend to speculate about any relationship between men and women gamers, but he should be using his power to try and address that problem in his community, rather than shutting out an entire population of gamers.