Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Mary Bernstein, Kim Price-Glynn, David G. Embrick

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


The digital world is an integral part of everyday life regarded as an extension of the self and the physical world. The advent of live video streaming services offers a more interactive form of social media than existing photo and video sharing platforms, like Facebook or Instagram. Twitch, a social video streaming service where people watch live broadcasts of video game play and other various forms of creative content, has contributed to the creation and growth of online communities where variations and similarities between online and offline self are made visible. Early research, specifically concerned with cyberbullying, identifies age, gender, and ethnicity as the three major and most “inconsistent” predictors of harassment behavior (Wright 2016). Current research suggests that, as inequality persists, digital media significantly affects how gender and sexuality are (re)constructed and deconstructed both online and off. Online, women are disproportionately oppressed/penalized/bound by expectations of moderated and acknowledged femininity intended for minimizing marginalization and threats of violence in a White, heteronormative male-dominated Internet. Witch hunting on Twitch has taken the form of complaints about female content creators employing adult webcam modeling tactics on streaming platforms via chat comments or private messages on Twitch, as well as on Twitter, YouTube, etc. I introduce the concept of digital witch hunting to argue that a new generation of witch hunts has imposed a hierarchy of dominant femininities onto women to delegitimize their digital embodiment, police gender boundaries and exclude/inhibit women from fully participating and competing with men. Using a combination of interface and discourse analysis, this paper examines both the gender and sexuality discourse of Twitch, and the cultural practices and beliefs of Twitch users to identify how and why gender is a consistent factor in predicting people’s involvement in harassment and witch hunting online.

Major Advisor

Mary Bernstein