Last week Twitch streamer, YouTuber, and model Heather “HeatheredEffect” Kent breastfed her 11 month old baby Margaux live on stream sparking a debate on whether breastfeeding violates Twitch’s terms of service and whether breastfeeding could be considered “sexual” content.
A clip was quickly posted posted to the r/livestreamfail sub on Reddit by u/TominationTime with the good intentioned title “Normalising Breastfeeding On Twitch.” witch resulted in a split in opinion on the matter. Some users suggest HeatheredEffect and similar may be “using their children as an excuse to flash tit” in an attempt to circumvent violations of Twitch’s TOS while others say “I support her doing it, with the caveat that it’s an odd choice.”
The majority of users involved in the discussion agree that although breastfeeding in public is often necessary and should be considered natural and normal (babies get hungry after all), a live stream may not be considered “public” in the same way as a mother breastfeeding on the train, in a restaurant, etc. as the focus is purely on what is happening on camera.
Breastfeeding in public is legal in many places around the world and accepted other social media platforms like Instagram, whose rules state that “breastfeeding is natural and beautiful, and we understand that it’s important for mothers to be able to share their experiences” and Twitch decides on a case by case basis regarding revealing clothing choices or shirtless (Male) streamers by considering the context or environment the streamer is in. For example a topless male in a gym setting would be acceptable while a shirtless male simply playing a video game would not.
So where do we draw the line?
It’s entirely possible, in the event that breastfeeding was deemed acceptable on twitch, that some streamers could take advantage of the situation to circumvent Twitch’s nudity rules and show a nipple or two in order to get tips or subs in the same way other female streamers are often accused of sexualising their streams.
What would seem like a simple solution to the problem by taking a break, moving out of frame or putting up an overlay comes with it’s own problems. A break in a stream can cause viewers lose interest and for many twitch partners, their stream is their job and main source of income.
Should Twitch ban breastfeeding on stream?
Let us know in the comments below.