For the past month, streamers have been debating the merits of the so-called "hot tub meta," referring to the trend of streaming in swimming suits from hot tubs and kiddie pools. I say, let these women live.
This is not the first time the way women dress on Twitch has made people angry. Before the "hot tub meta," there were so-called "boob streamers," who some people thought wore low cut shirts in order to attract viewers. This made some streamers very mad. Twitch has tried to change its community guidelines regarding both attire and content of streams, but that hasn't stopped people from complaining about women in particular using their looks to boost their views. Nor has it stopped women from speaking out on how these community guidelines can punish women who are streaming while attractive, and deputize a gang of trolls to enforce the community guidelines by harassing people they deem to be in violation of them.
Twitch's policy now explicitly allows swimwear when it's in the appropriate context (like the beach or the pool), so the "hot tub meta" should be allowed, but it's still upsetting some people who want to defend Twitch as a platform that is somehow more purely about video games.
The hot tub meta itself is simple—and a lot easier to identify than a "boob streamer," which could encompass anyone who has breasts and decides to stream. A hot tub streamer is immediately obvious: they are wearing a swimsuit, and sitting in a hot tub or inflatable pool. Most of these streamers stream in the "Just Chatting" category, where people go to just vibe with their audiences and not play video games.
At time of writing, I saw three streamers using the hot tub meta in that category. Amouranth, who previously talked about being harassed and derided as a "Twitch thot," was playing chess in a hot tub. She had twice the number of viewers than the person she was playing against, Alexandra Botez, a dedicated chess streamer. That might make it seem like Amouranth's hot tub is blowing the competition out of the water, but at 1.2 million followers compared to Botez's 311,000 she has a bigger built-in fanbase to pull viewers from. Taking a look at the Just Chatting category as a whole, Hasan Piker also has over 25,000 viewers compared to Amouranth's 10,000, and he's not sitting in a bathtub or wearing a bikini.
This conflicts with the idea that's been perpetuated over the past month that streaming from a hot tub is some kind of unbeatable strategy to get views. Just like "boob streamers" before them, the hot tub meta has become a kind of boogeyman. The underlying logic there is that because people like to watch pretty ladies, the women who stream from hot tubs are taking views away from other streamers.
It is true that people like to watch pretty ladies, but let's not act like that's an unqualified positive for women as a whole. Women on Twitch also deal with a huge amount of sexual harassment from their viewers, regardless of whether or not they're streaming from hot tub. On a practical level, I can't think of anything less pleasant than spending all day in a lukewarm inflatable bathtub in my bedroom. But women who don't wear swimsuits or low necklines have also been harassed on Twitch. Maybe it isn't the attire that's the problem, but the audience.
Luckily, there is an amazingly simple solution for the haters: You literally never have to watch a hot tub streamer if you don't want to. The meta is popular, but hasn't disrupted the platform in the way that some people think that it has. Even on a Monday afternoon, Grand Theft Auto V is by far the most popular category on Twitch with over 900,000 viewers, with Just Chatting a distant second at 500,000. Women streaming from hot tubs aren't bewitching viewers away from watching someone play a video game. If you don't like it, you can simply stop watching.