In recent decades, a multitude of studies have examined the influence of media on culture and thought (eg: Thompson, 2000; Gerbner et al., 2002; Ward, 2016). Nowadays, there is a particular concern regarding the consequences that social media content, especially sexualized content, can have on young people. Sexualized content refers to the portrayal of individuals, especially women, as sexual objects (Ward, 2016). In an effort to appear sexually attractive and conform to current beauty standards (Chua and Chang, 2016), there is an increasing trend among women and girls towards self-sexualization on social media platforms (Kapidzic and Herring, 2015). Given that sexualization involves attributing sexual nature to individuals, self-sexualization occurs when individuals willingly sexualize themselves in order to appear sexually appealing (Choi and DeLong, 2019). In this regard, it has been found that women experience greater social pressure regarding their appearance and increased concern for self-representation that must conform to current beauty standards (Chua and Chang, 2016). Furthermore, socialization on social media aims to present a flawless online appearance, resulting in heightened vulnerability in identity development (Davis, 2018) and an escalation of negative consequences. Some studies highlight the impact on mental health and performance, including increased anxiety, depression, and psychological distress among adolescents (Burnay et al., 2022; Keles et al., 2020), body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders (Mustapic et al., 2017). Others focus on how exposure to sexualized content shapes attitudes about gender and sexists’ beliefs (Blackburn and Scharrer, 2019) increases the value girls place on appearing attractive (Daniels et al., 2020) and exacerbates violence against women (Cobo-Bedía, 2020; Halicki et al., 2023). The sexualized representation of women in the media is associated with the adoption of gender roles and engagement in sexual harassment behaviors (Gramazio et al., 2021) as well as with attributing responsibility to victims of rape (Bernard et al., 2019). Furthermore, it can impact the understanding of sexuality for young users (Cowan, 2012).

In order to sell products, the image of women is sexualized in TV advertisements (Goffman, 1979; Lindner, 2004), magazine covers (Hatton and Trautner, 2011), music videos, (Merlyn, 2020), video games (Stermer and Burkley, 2012), or social networks (Daniels et al, 2020). Several factors serve as precursors to self-sexualization. Notably, body surveillance and self-esteem (Ruckel and Hill, 2017), exposure to sexualized content in media (Trekels and Eggermont, 2018). However, the most frequent predictor tends to be the search for attention and popularity on social media (Ramsey and Horan, 2018). Liss et al. (2011) developed a scale to measure the enjoyment of self-sexualization and found that some women may experience a sense of control or positive feelings when garnering men’s attention through their sexuality. Nevertheless, other studies reveal that self-sexualization is not associated with offline sexual agency (Ramsey and Horan, 2018), and women who enjoy sexualization are more likely to feel objectified by their partners and experience lower relationship satisfaction (Ramsey et al., 2017).

Although it is common knowledge that women are used as lures to promote a product and that the fundamental goal of the objectification shown in the media is to increase consumption (Barzoki et al., 2017), it is well established that women who present themselves as sexualized are perceived as less competent, deserving of attention, and less intelligent (Ward, 2016; Daniels et al., 2020). Llovet and Establés (2023) found evidence of higher rates of self-sexualization among female influencers. However, social success was not linked to this aspect, while for men, social success was associated with their professional aspect. Other studies provide evidence of self-sexualization on social media platforms, both among professionals and general users, with the aim of obtaining positive social appraisal (Yan et al., 2022) or monetary rewards (Drenten et al., 2020). Similarly, the portrayal of women in the media follows a similar pattern. For instance, researchers found that violence and sexual content in song lyrics were commonplace (Couto et al., 2022), as were representations in teen series (Masterson and Messina, 2023). They even demonstrated gender representations in video games (Lynch et al., 2016) and children’s movie posters (Aley and Hahn, 2020). Detailed information on the study sample and findings can be found in Table 1.

Table 1 Key Content Analysis Studies on Gender Issues in the Media.

In order to address these questions and given the widespread use of digital media by young people, it is essential to analyze the socializing and normalizing effect of commodifying women’s bodies (Cobo-Bedía, 2020). Therefore, it is essential to examine how self-sexualization of women in the media and the role of technology in the dissemination of sexualized content because, in addition to causing distress among the female population, it perpetuates values that reinforce exclusion and undermine women’s equality (Verdú, 2018). In this regard, this study aims to explore the way in which streamers produce and distribute content on social networks and, specifically, on the livestreaming platform as a setting for sexualized culture

Today, streaming represents a significant part of digital entertainment and online culture (Cullen and Ruberg, 2019; Woodcock and Johnson, 2019). The platform has millions of daily viewers who can choose between nearly 98,000 livestreaming channels in five categories: “Games”, “In Real Life” (hereinafter, “IRL”), “Music”, “Esports,” and “Creative”, which in turn are divided into subcategories, for example: “ASMR” (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), “Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches”, or “Food & Drink”. On this platform, the number of viewers has undergone a dizzying increase—going from 121 K daily viewers in 2012 to almost 3M in 2022. This growth, which stemmed from the unique livestreaming of streamers playing video games, has led to set the pace and gain an advantage over other livestreaming platforms such as Mixer or YouTube (Cullen and Ruberg, 2019).

The success of livestreaming platforms may be attributed to their capacity to enable viewers to interact with the individual livestreaming through various means, such as utilizing the chat feature or making monetary donations or channel subscriptions ranging from €4.99 to €24.99. Depending on the subscription level, subscribers receive benefits such as ad-free content viewing, acquiring badges, or gaining access to a more efficient chat exclusively for them. These forms of mediation between the viewer and the streamer offer the audience the opportunity to personalize their experience and connect with the streamer’s expressions, voice, and immediate environment (Woodcock and Johnson, 2019). This “close” contact with a streamer chatting in a relaxed atmosphere provokes emotional connection and awakens feelings of comfort that could be compared to the feeling of spending time with a friend (Woodcock and Johnson, 2019).

In order to regulate these interactions, has a set of rules to protect users, deter offensive behavior, and maintain a good commercial and social relationship within the platform ( However, with regard to the distribution of sexual, obscene, or pornographic content, subjective, vague, and contradictory guidelines are observed, especially in terms of clothing and displays of the body. Such distribution reinforces discriminatory attitudes towards women and the LGTBQI+ community, often minorities in these spaces (Ruberg, 2021) given that, despite the fact that, according to the company, 35% of streamers are women, the reality is that their audience levels are much lower. So much so that, within the Top 100 Spanish-speaking streamers, female content creators represent only 8% and account for 5.34% of the total audience (Selenepernas, 2022). Therefore, despite the creation and regulation of these policies, gender-differentiated interactions are observed that consolidate a profoundly masculinized environment. This generates a hostile male-dominated environment in which hate speech towards the female gender is disseminated, including harassment, negative assessment of their competence, and sexual comments about their bodies (Ruberg, 2021; Todd and Melancon, 2019). In addition, they are often not considered as “true gamers” because they play less or play games considered inferior (Paaßen et al., 2017) or because they focus more on their appearance than on the game (Grayson, 2017). For their part, men are rated as better and more competitive players (Salter, 2018), which increases the invisibility of women in this community.

In an attempt to compete with male streamers and given that positive feedback from followers increases when content is sexualized (Bell et al., 2018), women often resort to self-sexualization (Uszkoreit, 2018). This practice of self-representation is created on the basis of a series of performances that respond to the ethical and aesthetic codes of the culture in which they are projected. The gestures, behavior, and environment constitute a fictitious creation modeled by the dominant patterns of society (Goffman, 1959), and, in this case, of the platform’s users. Live streaming offers various ways to sexualize content, such as using erotic cosplay, simulating sexual acts, playing video games in revealing clothing, or performing specific exercises and movements requested by viewers in exchange for monetary donations. Previous research has found that content creators sexualize their content through the replication of stylized and staged pornographic poses and gestures, referred to as porn chic by McNair (2002). This particular aesthetic differs from explicit pornography as it does not depict explicit sexual acts but shares the goal of monetizing a product (Drenten et al., 2020) and portraying women as available or ‘fuckable’ (Dines, 2010). New digital scenarios allow the general public to create their own content in amateur pornography (Choi and DeLong, 2019) or on social media platforms like Instagram (Llovet and Establés, 2023; Yan et al., 2022). Additionally, individuals can buy, sell, or access explicit sexual material through platforms such as OnlyFans, IsMyGirl, Fansly, or those commonly known as Cam-Girls. These women, who arouse their clients through sexual innuendos to gain economic benefits, gifts, sponsorship, or fame, are specifically recruited by companies that manage the platforms in exchange for a share of the profits (Cunningham et al., 2018; Wang, 2021). Similarly, streamers receive between 50% and 80% of subscription fees, often receive gifts from their followers, and can enhance their audience through an intimate connection with their viewers. Although different authors argue that this reaction empowers women (Barnett et al., 2018), as they obtain economic and psychological benefits from it (Grande-López, 2019), various research suggests that sexualized streamers are perceived as less deserving of attention and labeled as “Titty-streamers” or “Bubby gamers” (Ruberg et al., 2019). In this regard, the uniqueness of the current study lies in providing an in-depth analysis of live and audience-mediated self-sexualization, typically male-dominated, on live streaming platforms. That is, this study goes beyond planned and edited content releases, offering insights into the spontaneous creation of content aimed at gaining popularity and economic benefits, while receiving immediate feedback and rewards from viewers. From this perspective, the current study addresses the following research questions: Do women experience more sexualization than men on Are the differences in sexualization between men and women statistically significant? Therefore, the objective of this research is twofold: on the one hand, to analyze whether women are self-sexualized more than men on from a gender perspective (H1) and, on the other hand, to determine whether there are statistically significant differences according to the streamer’s sex, in terms of the behavior and context of their livestreams (H2). The results obtained will make it possible to gather information on the patterns of sexualization in the categories analyzed and offer relevant data on the current panorama, in addition to obtaining an awareness of the socializing power of the media.


This research is based on the methodological strategy of content analysis which consists of objectively and systematically analyzing the textual, visual, and behavioral characteristics of media content (Neuendorf, 2017). As demonstrated in the introduction the section, previous research shows that this methodology is the most appropriate for media análisis.

As in previous studies, through this strategy, an ad-hoc instrument adapted to livestreaming platforms has been developed based on an analytical framework that responds to the combination of different observable attributes (posture, clothing, image focus, etc.) with which to measure the frequency and intensity in which streamers sexualize themselves, as well as their context and behavior within the categories analyzed.

To contrast the results, the chi-square test was used to analyze whether there are statistically significant differences in the frequency and intensity of sexualization, depending on the gender of the streamers.

Sample selection

Using a cross-sectional recording procedure (September and October 2022), data was collected and archived from a total of 1920 video clips categorized by gender based on their own personal profile description distributed in the two most popular categories of videogames and IRL. Based on these criteria, the top 10 videos were selected from the daily world ranking within the selected categories during 32 consecutive days. Within the Videogames category, the three most popular clips of each day were selected (n = 960) and within the IRL category, clips from the subcategories JustChatting (n = 320), ASMR (n = 320) and Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches (n = 320). The selection criteria for this sample align with current recommendations to include the male gender in studies on sexualization (Pecini et al., 2023). The sample encompasses streamers and categories regardless of the emphasis placed on physical appearance, as the primary inclusion criterion was the monthly average of viewers and followers (Average Viewer Ratio) and the popularity of video games. This ensured the inclusion of channels with the strongest and most consistent average viewership, using statistical software, such as or

It is important to note that those videos in which the streamer did not show their image were excluded, as it did not allow the analysis of all study variables, as well as those in which non-real images such as Hentai, cartoons, or human 3D representations were shown.


In order to carry out an observational procedure, a recording protocol must be constructed with which to establish the variables of analysis and the fundamental traits to be observed (Neuendorf, 2017). Moreover, sexualization is multifaceted: in other words, it is influenced by different aspects such as the amount of clothing, body exposure, or posture, although not all of these affect to the same degree when perceiving people through media (Bernard and Wollast, 2019; Hatton and Trautner, 2011). As such, in order to capture these differences, the variables to be observed, the duration of the observation sessions, and the sample were established based on key elements extracted from the review of the scientific literature together with the review of two external expert profiles in the field of education and communication.


After defining the observation protocol and sample, an instrument was developed to measure the frequency and intensity of sexualization of women and men on To this end, the variables were defined and grouped into three dimensions (Table 2), in which the following were collected: (i) general data on the livestream: number of spectators, category and sex; (ii) the context: clothing, body parts shown, focus of the image, and setting; and (iii) behavior, in which mouth movements, simulation of a sexual act, the inclusion of role-play, and body posture are analyzed.

Table 2 Coding and categorization of observable items.

To measure the intensity of sexualization, an additive scale of 0 to 14 points was developed to categorize the degree to which each livestream is sexualized. The conceptualization of the variables made it possible to capture the differences and distinguish three levels of intensity: non-sexualized (0–4), sexualized (5–8), or hypersexualized (9–14). Previous studies have examined the degree of sexualization in the media based on the relationship established between different variables, such as revealing clothing and suggestive posture (e.g., Holland and Haslam, 2016), facial expression and makeup (e.g., Bernard et al., 2019), or through the combination of various sexualizing features such as the use of the mouth or exposure of body parts (e.g., Hatton and Trautner, 2011; Yan et al., 2022). These studies have demonstrated that the relationship between these variables increases or decreases the intensity of sexualization. However, there is no research on livestreaming platforms. As such, variables tailored to such needs were included in this instrument. The following is a justification for the choice of measurements and variables chosen, as well as their coding.


Clothing (0–4)

Despite the fact that the type of clothing and degree of nudity does not necessarily increase the sexualization of the individual (Fasoli et al., 2018), there are studies that point to significant gender differences in relation to attire in the media (Hatton and Trautner, 2011; Smith and Sanderson, 2015). Thus, the degree of nudity or type of clothing is presented as an important marker of sexualization (e.g., Díaz-Atozano et al., 2021). In this study, a scale has been developed ranging from not very revealing clothing (0), exposed arms or shoulders (1), tight-fitting clothing (2), lingerie and/or swimsuits (3), and to a minimum of clothing that covering only the nipples and pubic area (4).

Exposed body parts (0–3)

The normalization of sexualization in the media has been used as a lure when selling any type of product (Rodal, 2009), to the point of hypersexualizing specific parts of the body such as the breast, buttocks, and genitals (Díez-Gutiérrez, 2021). Those livestreams in which none of these parts occupied a central focus or were not visible were categorized with a zero (0), while if any of them were emphasized or shown, they were categorized with one (1) point for each of the parts displayed.

Image focus (0–1)

The constitution of the individual—the streamer—in front of a camera, presenting them to a group—the viewers—permeabilizes and regulates what can be said, what can be communicated and what can be shown (Calvo and San Fabián, 2018). In this sense, the focus of the image represents a multimodal text where the body’s visibility plays an important role in conveying a sexualized message (Díaz-Atozano et al., 2021; Goffman, 1979). Therefore, in relation to the scale of sexualization, a distinction is made between those livestreams that focus only on head and shoulders (0) and those in which there is a substantially greater exposure showing all or a large part of the body (1).

Posture (0–2)

The inclusion of posture to address cognitive objectification offers an important foothold for understanding sexualization as a set of variables to be studied holistically. Exposure of revealing clothing may not show cognitive objectification (Schmidt and Kistemaker, 2015), but a discrepancy arises when adding suggestive postures (Bernard et al., 2018). In this regard, posture takes on a potential value to sexualize and adds potential value to body language. Several ranges are considered in this study, ranging from sitting (no sexualization, 0); suggestive tilting of torso and/or hips (subtle sexualization, 1); to sitting with legs spread, lying down or on all fours (explicit sexualization, 2).


Mouth (0–2)

The mouth is a fundamental component of sexualization. Over the years, it has been employed to hypersexualize women in the media (Fasoli et al., 2018; Merlyn, 2020). Specifically, the intensity of how this body part is used is related to the ability to transmit pleasure and emotions (Gray et al., 2011). The instrument developed establishes different scores depending on the intensity and use of the mouth, ranging from neutral (0), talking or smiling; seductive (1), lip biting or blowing kisses; to sexualized (2), simulating fellatio or a sexual act.

Sexual act (0–1)

References to the sexual act in the media are applied in the form of innuendo, double entendres, and nudity (Reichert and Lambiase, 2012), or as pre-pornographic representations that sexualize and objectify the body (Martín-Sanz, 2020). From this perspective, a point (1) is given to those livestreams that show behaviors that simulate fellatio, masturbation, or movements that insinuate sexual acts.

Role-play (0–1)

The analysis took into account visual motifs such as fan service: erotic representations of the manga or anime world through the use of cat ears, cosplay, lolicon aesthetics, fishnet stockings, and other fetishes. All of these related to the Hentai and soft-porn world, components that orbit within a male heteronormative sexualization and hypersexualization (Hernández-Esquivel, 2021). Therefore, a point (1) is awarded to those livestreams that simulate roles of submission, slavery, or domination through these terms.

This coding provides a deeper insight because, although we find streamers with the same amount of clothing in different channels, for example, the analysis of context and behavior gives us a different view of the degree of sexualization. In this context, a streamer wearing a swimsuit sunbathing on the beach would receive 7 points and fall within the sexualized or moderately intense category. Meanwhile, another streamer, also in a swimsuit but adopting a more seductive pose (tilting the hips suggestively) and simulating a sexual act such as licking an ice cream cone or a microphone, would score 12 points and be categorized as sexualized. Therefore, measuring both context and the behavior allows us to show the intensity of sexualization.

Data analysis

In order to minimize bias in the observation, the instrument was subject to a pilot in which four external observers specialized in the field collected data from all selected categories, at the same time over the course of five days. In this way, the first 10 direct samples from each channel were analyzed on the basis of the same criteria, using Cohen’s Kappa inter-rater reliability index (Cohen, 1960). A concordance degree of 0.854 was obtained for all variables, considered very good according to the scale proposed by the author, thus allowing us to continue with content analysis.

The data extracted from this analysis was recorded and processed with SPSS 29.0. The factorial structure was studied through Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) supported by the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) index and Bartlett’s sphericity test. To decide on item retention, anti-image correlations were examined. Furthermore, total explained variance was analyzed to determine the number of components. Finding the rotated solution, an analysis of internal consistency is conducted through the Cronbach’s Alpha reliability coefficient for each dimension that comprises the scale. Finally, the scale is presented with its respective dimensions, variables, and conceptualizations. Categorical variables were presented through cross tables and frequency distributions. In order to test whether there are significant differences in the degree of sexualization depending on the gender of the streamer, as well as in the aspects of context and behavior according to the category, chi-square tests of sample homogeneity were performed.


Dimensional analysis of the instrument

Exploratory Factor Analysis (AFE) and Common Factor Analysis (CFA) were carried out on the entire sample (N = 1920). To assess the adequacy of sampling, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Index and Bartlett’s test of sphericity were calculated. The resulting values in both tests (KMO = 0.89; χ2 Sphericity = 17232.42, p < 0.001) were adequate, leading to the subsequent exploration of the factorial structure of the instrument, as they meet the respective criteria for factor reduction in dimensions (Van Wingerde and Van Ginkel, 2021). Regarding the extraction of principal components, the Varimax technique with Kaiser normalization is employed (Table 3). The results revealed two factors, and both are greater than 0.7 (Vo and Lee, 2020), representing adequately the latent constructs of interest or different dimensions of the same construct and verifying the common method bias those accounts for common variance among variables by eliminating measurement error variance. The Context dimension is composed of the variables: clothing, posture, focus of the image, chest, buttocks, and genitals. As for the Behavior dimension, it is composed of the variables: mouth, sexual act, and role. The previously mentioned structure succeeds in explaining the variability present in the data, totaling 77.98% of the explained variance by the two factors.

Table 3 Rotated component matrix.

Regarding reliability, the Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient was used for each dimension (Table 4), yielding the following values: Context (0.89) and Behavior (0.78). All items obtained factorial weights exceeding 0.827, so the elimination of any item was not considered. It can be observed, therefore, that the values are satisfactory and recommended for acceptance (Linkov, 2021). Finally, all the analyses conducted allow for the availability of a valid and reliable scale.

Table 4 Factorial weights of items and communalities.

Descriptive analysis

In the first descriptive analysis, and with the objective of contrasting H1, we analyze the frequency and intensity with which streamers sexualize according to gender. In terms of frequency, there is a higher percentage of men (61.2%) than women (38.8%) livestreaming (Fig. 1 and Table 5). However, these differences are exacerbated depending on the category in which the livestream is located. Thus, categories such as Just Chatting or Games have a higher frequency of male streamers (86.75% and 92.10% respectively), while in the categories of ASMR and Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches, there is a higher representation of female streamers (98.75% and 97.19%, respectively), demonstrating a clear division by sex.

Fig. 1: Gender representation of streamers by category.
figure 1

Source: the author(s).

Table 5 Level of sexualization as a function of streamer.

Regarding the intensity of sexualization, 87.4% of streamers grouped within the non-sexualized level are male, while 97.2% and 99.7% of the remaining two levels of cognitive subjectification, sexualization and hypersexualization, respectively, are composed of females.

The individual results for the intensity of sexualization for each of the livestreams indicate that there are descriptive differences within the female sex (n = 745). While the Games and Just Chatting categories place the intensity of sexualization at a low or non-sexualized level, the ASMR and Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches categories have the highest amount of hypersexualized and sexualized livestreams. Women, who make up the vast majority of these categories, are more sexualized in general, reaching high levels of sexualization or hypersexualization in approximately half of the livestreams.

Meanwhile, no men are hypersexualized in the categories of Games, Just Chatting, and ASMR, and only one man is hypersexualized in the category of Pools, Hot Tubs, & Beaches. The same is true for medium intensity, in which only 10 men out of the entire sample (n = 1174) are sexualized. In addition to showing different results for each category in relation to the different levels of sexualization, it is observed that women (n = 745) are not only found mostly in the less popular and, therefore, less visited categories, but also that these categories show the highest percentages of sexualization and hypersexualization.

Regarding the context and behavior variables (Table 6), the results reveal that men, for the most part, place the focus of the image on their face and do not show behaviors characteristic of sexualization such as suggestive postures, seductive mouths, or simulation of a sexual act, but are instead focused on playing, chatting, or streaming. However, the majority of women (71.4%) wear attire ranging from moderate necklines to bikinis or minimal clothing and use the focus of the image to show their full body (76.2%). In addition, more than half of these streamers evoke a sexual act (51.6%), while two thirds of them insinuate such acts or seduce with their mouth (32.7% + 34.7%).

Table 6 Results of independent variables according to coding scale.

Inferential analysis

In a second inferential analysis, and with the aim of contrasting H2, a χ2 test was performed (Table 7), showing that there are statistically significant differences between men and women both at the global level (p = 0.000) and in each of the levels of sexualization (p = 0.001; p = 0.000; p = 0.002, respectively).

Table 7 Chi-square test: differences in the level of sexualization between men and women.

Finally, with regard to the behavioral and contextual variables by gender and categories (Table 8), it is also observed that the differences between men and women are statistically significant in most of these. As for the context variables, those differences for which a higher level of significance between men and women has been found in all the analyzed categories of are the following: (i) in the use of clothing, with women using a minimum of clothing (underwear or swimsuits) compared to men who use clothing which is not very revealing; (ii) in the focus of the image, with women showing their entire body compared to men who show only from the shoulders to the head; (iii) in the parts of the body exposed, with women more frequently showing their breasts, buttocks, or genitals, with exceptions in the case of chests/breasts, buttocks, and genitals in the categories of Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches, ASMR, or Games respectively.

Table 8 Relationship between the variables of analysis according to Twitch category and gender of streamer.

With respect to the behavioral variables, there are also statistically significant differences between men and women in all categories of Women show a higher level of significance the following: (i) use of the mouth, where they make a more sexualized use; (ii) sexual acts (kissing, hugging, sucking, simulating fellatio) performed significantly more by women than by men in all categories (with the exception of the Games category, where no such acts were observed in either sex); (iii) role-play, with women using more erotic or infantilized cosplay than men; iv) posture, with women presented more often with open legs, lying down, or on all fours, compared to men who show themselves sitting down.

The results obtained, both descriptive and inferential, support the hypotheses (H1 and H2) in almost all the behavioral and contextual streamer variables according to gender in all categories of


The growth of is undeniable, especially if we consider the integration of new categories and subcategories to attract a totally different audience compared its beginnings as a video-game platform, where more than 80% were men (Zolides, 2020). Although the growth and evolution of the platform could offer a more egalitarian reality among streamers, categories such as Games and Just Chatting still present themselves as a marginal niche for women. Because of this, female streamers may resort to self-sexualization as a strategy to engage more followers. It is worth noting the clear division by gender according to livestreaming category. Thus, 84% of women are found in those categories where the female body can be subjected to sexist and discriminatory rules and standards (Ruberg and Lark, 2020; Routsalainen, 2022), such as ASMR and Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches.

Regarding the intensity of sexualization, this study is consistent with previous research arguing that the female gender is sexualized at a higher level than male sex in the media (Hatton and Trautner, 2011; Ward, 2016). In this sense, the results obtained reveal statistically significant differences in the intensity of sexualization between men and women, as well as in the behavior and context of streamers in the different categories of While men focus their streaming on their speech or competence as video gamers and do not show their bodies or suggest seduction to engage viewers or subscribers, women resort to self-objectification, which reinforces the relationship between sex work and livestreaming for female streamers only (Ruberg and Lark, 2020). Furthermore, the commodification of one’s own body to elicit emotional and sexual engagement for commercial purposes may not be as advantageous as it may seem. This is because control over ownership on the internet is fluid, and frequently, the content is utilized by third parties for their own benefit (Drenten et al., 2020) or yields minimal economic gain (Wang, 2021). Although reference may be made to the concept of sexual freedom, we must not forget that self-objectification often responds to a patriarchal ideology created according to the male gaze (Cobo-Bedía, 2020). Revealing clothing or suggestive posture conditions the moral and competence valuation of women (Bernard et al., 2020; Wollast et al., 2018) and translates into a dehumanizing view that turns the person into a sexual object (Fasoli et al., 2018). Therefore, the level of sexualization of women on may be normalizing what is culturally acceptable, both on and off this digital platform. In December 2023, following the controversy surrounding the ‘Topless Meta’, a new trend among streamers involving the simulated nudity from the waist up, decided to implement an update to its regulations regarding sexual content. The platform stated that content deliberately emphasizing breasts, buttocks, or the pelvic region, even when clothed, as well as erotic dances involving undressing or gestures of undressing, will not be penalized as long as it is properly labeled.Footnote 1Along these lines, there are different positions regarding the reasons why women choose to objectify themselves: while some authors defend sexual freedom and argue that self-sexualization gives them power, enjoyment and self-esteem (Barnett et al., 2018), others point out that sexual freedom and sexualization is dehumanizing (Wollast et al., 2018) and affects both neuronal and behavioral levels (Bernard et al., 2020). It is crucial to understand how these regulations normalize the sexualization of women and their content and how it can impact adolescents, especially considering the increasing occurrence of the sexual recruitment of young women through social media (Humphreys et al., 2019). This is also relevant when self-sexualization is a voluntary decision, given the rise in sexual exploitation and human trafficking associated with live streams (Delva Benavides and Gonzalez Lopez, 2022).

Although the study sample includes sexualized and hypersexualized men (n = 7 out of the total sample) in categories such as ASMR or Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches, it is important to note that in some of these livestreams the men’s scenarios and behaviors parodied and ridiculed women’s activity in these categories. This is a clear reflection of the results offered by previous research (Cullen and Ruberg, 2019; Zolides, 2020), in which they warn that these types of platforms build and perpetuate an online hate discourse towards women, which can be extrapolated to different offline contexts of everyday life.

The results obtained in the study call for new approaches to the use and formation of social networking platforms, especially if we take into account that they occupy a significant portion of the daily lives of young users, with 73% between 16 and 34 years of age in the case of 2Given that the female body invades most cultural productions, even more so when consumers are young (Verdú, 2018), it is essential to develop educational plans that take into account that media manipulation of the female image constitutes a social problem capable of producing a negative psychological impact on women’s identity, self-image, and well-being (Bernard et al., 2020). The symbolic violence reproduced in the media has harmful consequences for the public in general and for women in particular, since the objectification reproduced in the media forms part of the ideological basis of inequality (Verdú, 2018). Although there are more models of women, their sexualized or hypersexualized representation in the media is a matter of concern in terms of the different cultural options presented to childhood and adolescence, as the representation of the female model as a sexual object has an influence at both the neural and behavioral level (Bernard et al., 2020). Furthermore, it plays a key role in the management of distress in intimate partner violence and attribution of blame (Johnson et al., 2022), including sexual assault (Halicki et al., 2023).

On the other hand, we emphasize the need to use the instrument developed to analyze more categories and/or streamers, even if they have fewer viewers, by means of a longitudinal registry with larger samples, aiming to analyze the content of users with less representation.

Finally, it is observed that the male community attempts to ridicule and parody the livestreams of those categories in which female representation is higher, with the discomfort caused to many men by the intrusion of women on the platform is indicated in various social networks (Ruberg et al., 2019), mainly with strategies that they themselves refer to as “semi-porn to attract teenage audiences” (@JotaEme009 on or as content that “is not appropriate for the platform” (JordiWild on In this sense, future research will delve deeper into the community’s view of these livestreams, through the streamers’ discourse and viewers’ comments. In this way, we will investigate, through mixed methods, the reasons why women decide to objectify themselves in order to obtain a closer view of the protagonists’ reality and what the individual psychological impact of sexualization is, if any.


This research delves into the extent of exposure and sexualization of streamers in different categories on the platform. According to the objectives, we conclude that women are more intensely sexualized than men in a statistically significant manner, and furthermore, female streamers experience significantly higher levels of sexualization compared to their male counterparts. This is observed by taking into account contextual and behavioral variables in live broadcasts, leading to implications for gender dynamics, especially concerning self-sexualization.

To conduct this study, the methodology of content analysis was employed using a tool developed ad hoc. A large number of live broadcasts were analyzed, considering various elements such as poses, types of clothing, gestures, and roles accompanying live-streamed videos. These open and free publications replace, for sectors consuming pornography, other pages with explicit sexual content, underscoring the increased risk of these broadcasts where women often appear hypersexualized.

It is crucial to highlight that many users of these platforms are minors or emerging adults, making it necessary for parents, guardians, and educators to be aware of this new form of implicit sexualization in order to educate and inform about the potential uses and risks associated with live broadcasts. Only in this way can awareness be raised about the importance of these perverse forms of sexualization, which disrupt the equality between men and women.

Additionally, it is important to consider that the reproduction of sexualization in the media contributes to an increase in violence against women and reinforces sexist attitudes and opinions that, in the medium and long term, can lead to cases of sexual harassment, undervaluation of their achievements, and workplace discrimination.