Welcome to planet Egirl | WIRED
The most well-known egirls are a distributed vision, an Internet merger, collectively funded, in part, by fan thirst. They’re queens of the parasocial microcelebrity, charging $ 25- $ 35 a month for OnlyFans’ obscene “gamer girl” or $ 25 for cosplay photo sets. “It’s one of those fantastic things,” says Rusty fawkes, an egirl with 1.5 million followers on TikTok. On his OnlyFans, Fawkes posts cosplay-inspired obscenities, boobs, wigs, and cat ears. It’s not really how girls play video games, she says. We do not put on a full makeup, a wig and a Darling in the Franxx cosplay to stand out from some valiant. (Sometimes viewers point out to him that his controller is not on.)
This is hyperbole. It’s abstract. And, says Fawkes, “it’s sexualized for them. I mean, hey, if it’s something that you can market, and you want to market it, like, why not? In 2019, egirl Belle Delphine posted a picture of herself in a bathtub with her pink gamepad: “I am now selling my BATH WATER for all thirsty gamers 💦.” $ 30. It sold out instantly. One particularly enterprising PC builder sold bathwater-cooled Belle Delphine PCs for $ 1,500.
This kind of professional egirl also invokes a question central to its existence: is it a release? Upstream from egirl are rococo-inspired Japanese lolitas – in fluffy dresses with cupcakes, Victorian Mary Janes dolls, and lace socks. They may seem, at first glance, infantilizing, a call to male obsession for young women. It is Lolita after all. Lolita devotees would say it’s more subversive than infantilizing. It is an anti-masculine gaze. It is devious childishness, a bulletproof vest against reality. More like dolls than humans.
If egirls are dolls, people have a lot of fun dressing them up.
Perhaps egirls are the natural conclusion of Donna Haraway’s 1985 cyberfeminist ideal: “both animal and mechanical creatures that inhabit ambiguous, natural, and fabricated worlds.” Catgirls online in organized rooms. In a high-pitched baby voice, there’s producer Senzawa’s 2018 egirl anthem, which is reminiscent of an NSFW 2000 furry cat parlor role-playing game: Rawr !! x3 nuzzles pounces on you / uwu u so hot. Was Haraway wrong?
Caldwell is convinced that egirl is empowering. She doesn’t do it for men, she said, or for anyone else. And kids don’t have a monopoly on cute shit. People take everything so seriously. “Yeah, I’m playing,” Caldwell says in another TikTok meme. She wears a fluffy pink bra with dangling bunny ears and matching fluffy short shorts. “I know I don’t sound like your ‘typical’ player, but see, “she says. The camera switches to a video of her playing a video game on her rigged gaming PC. She moves a sponge on a platter and nods in rhythm.