The Warzone streaming community is facing a reckoning this week, after multiple Warzone streamers spoke out against the sexist abuse that women who stream receive from other Warzone streamers and their communities.
The latest backlash against sexism in Warzone comes in response to numerous comments made by ClutchBelk and his community this past weekend, whose sexism was highlighted by NYSL Swish and Florida Mutineer's Queen Shadows to the broader Warzone community via Twitter. His aggressive sexist comments toward women have been pointed out by multiple female streamers over the past year.
In response to being called out for his disrespectful behavior, ClutchBelk played the victim in two now-deleted Tweets, claiming that he was being cancelled while making fun of the people who called him out for having lower viewership than him.
While sexism and misogyny are rampant in the Warzone community at large, as evidenced by any Warzone forum's comment section, the latest discussion surrounding sexism in the Warzone community centers on how male Warzone streamers treat female streamers. Multiple big names in the community like Swish, Queen Shadows, Number1Girl, Dougdagnabbit, NRG Isaac, Zlaner, and others have come forward to condemn sexism and stand with the women of Warzone.
ClutchBelk called out for misogynistic comments about female Warzone streamers
Warzone streamer and pro for NYSL Swish published a long thread over the weekend, showing popular Warzone stream ClutchBelk making numerous sexist comments about her and fellow female streamer Queen Shadows while they were all competing in a $30,000 community tournament last Friday.
According to Swish, the situation started when one of Belk's mods came to her stream after Belk killed her in a tournament to trash talk her. She posted a screenshot of that comment in her Discord for banter, after which Belk himself showed up and confronted Swish, accusing her of "crying for attention" for engaging in trash talk, and then when Sensei called him rude and angry, Belk responded with the remark "no anger here shorty".
Swish also published numerous clips from his stream, in which he made various sexist comments about Swish and other female competitors, saying, among other things that Swish was crying, calling her a "stupid ass p*&sy", and calling Queen Shadows a "good bitch" when he was killed by her in a game while she was playing from a roof.
Other clips have resurfaced from his past, in which he called female Warzone player ASTAFLEX, who beat his friend Destroy in a game, a "p*&sy-ass B*tch."
Belk is far from the only COD player to display an open disrespect for women who compete, but his comments have sparked an uncharacteristically large discussion from the Warzone community, with some calling out the sexist elements of the scene, while others are defending the use of sexist insults.
Warzone streamers condemn Belk's blatant sexism and Warzone community's misogyny
Multiple well-known male and female Warzone streamers have come forward over the past few days to condemn the rising trend of sexist harassment that has been coming out of ClutchBelk and the Warzone culture at large.
In addition to Swish and Queen Shadows, male streamers NRG Isaac, DougDagnabbit, ZLaner, FaZe Swagg, among others, all came forward with statements supporting women in Warzone against those who were demanding they remain silent in the face of blatant disrespect. Female streamer Number1Girl also came forward with her own story of being targetted by a sexist streamer.
NRG Isaac published a Tweet-thread on Sunday, in which he said, "I'm all for competitive trash-talking. I love a good grudge match or rivalry. But we cannot let it devolve into the what we've been seeing. It is our responsibility to speak out when someone is misrepresenting the collective, so I want to say a few things on the matter."
While Isaac did not take a position on whether Belk's specific comments were sexist, he did condemn the many blatant, unmoderated sexist comments made in Belk's chat, that repeatedly called Swish a bitch, including Belk's own mom commenting "bitches get what bitches get", and another person commenting "a dumb bimbo."
He also argued this isn't a Belk problem, it's a culture problem related to the wider community.
"To be clear, Belk is catching the flak, but these tensions have been growing due to similar actions from other guys in the scene," Isaac argued." All this viewer shaming, earnings shaming, and far worse forms of degrading/harassment is just pathetic & reeks of insecurity. Have some respect. And so we are clear, it's not "cancel culture" to hold someone accountable for their actions. Our careers are entirely reliant on community support. . . if widespread community deems you toxic, expected repercussions."
Dougdagnabbit also spoke out against sexism in Warzone in two videos he published on Twitter.
"As someone who has a voice in the Call of Duty community and someone who has a stake in Warzone as a game, and its future, and the entire community involved with it, I think its personally my job to speak up for other people when I see wrong things happening in [the community]," Doug explained. "I have seen a trend that is going upward recently, the way people treat each other. . . from male to female, and the way people have been interacting specifically with women. . . they go out of their way to act differently toward women, and I don't agree with it at all, it has been an issue that has been prevalent in the COD community forever."
Doug continued, "When I see content creators, especially women, who feel underrepresented in the community, and they have the courage to come out and say they feel like they have been wronged and that somebody is treating them differently based on something completely out of their control, it's our job as the people at the top of the social interactions for COD to take a stand and say something about it when we see something wrong happening in our community."
He concluded, "I do not agree with anything I have been seeing. I am not saying I am a perfect person, I have said wrong to women before, I have said wrong to minorities before. . . I think everybody has a chance to redeem themselves, to apologize and make right for the problems they have created or exacerbated by fostering a community that feeds into toxicity."
Many other male influencers in the community also came forward to stand with women and call for greater accountability.
Joining Swish and Queen Shadows cause, fellow female Twitch streamer Number1girl came forward to share her experiences with Twitch streamer Reidboy24, who called her a dumb bitch and when she posted a Twitlonger condemning it, he created a stream command for it called "!dumbbitch", in a very clear example of sexism.
"I was already going to make this video before the Swish/Belk situation surfaced," CJ explained. "What I care about is respect, just like all the other females in the COD community. Seeing the strength of Swish and the community coming together to speak out and do the right thing, has only made me coming and making this video easier on me because its a really hard thing to call out someone in the community. . . we know we are going to get backlash and we are going to be looked at like we are trying to ruin someone's career, but let's be honest, they are doing it on their own."
Belk and his community double down on sexism
In response to the backlash, Belk and his allies rallied around their supposed right to make sexist and hateful comments.
Not only did Belk refuse to apologize, but he also went as far as suggesting that if women don't want to be harassed they should leave the community entirely. His community also supported him following his sexist rants, with hundreds of new subscriptions, improved average viewers, and a higher than usual max viewers throughout the weekend.
Belk's main defense against claims that he was sexist was that he is toxic to everyone, so he argued it's not sexist since he is treating women the same. This is sometimes known as the "equal toxicity for all defense" defense, which posits that it's okay to hurl sexist obscenities at women so long as you hurl the same female-specific obscenities at men. This defense ignores the fact that using sexist terms for women toward men is also generally considered misogynistic.
"No one wants to hear your f*&king opinion," he angrily yelled at Queen Shadows in his stream, after which he banned her and continued ranting. "I don't give a f*&k, I talk to everyone the same, I talk to everyone equally, male or female I treat everyone equally."
Many Warzone players agreed with Belk's reasoning, arguing that so long as you say misogynist things to both men and women that it's totally okay and not sexism anymore.
Other people argued that the women were overreacting by standing up for themselves at all, an idea that was swiftly rejected by Swish and her supporters.
Considering the tremendous support for Belk after his disrespectful words towards women in the COD community, it is clear that the Warzone community is facing a serious cultural divide in relation to the treatment of female players. While some big names came forward to stand with Swish, Queen Shadows, and the others who have come forward regarding sexism, the backlash against those same women for even saying anything also shows that sexism is deeply ingrained into some parts of the Warzone community and isn't going away anytime soon.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.