Comparative Gender Studies

My wife is about five months pregnant with our second child. Recently, we had an ultrasound where a person claiming to be an expert in such matters told us we should expect it to be… a girl. (She actually said—and I quote—“Look, you can see the labia!” Suffice it to say, that phrasing didn’t help ease me into the whole situation.)
Since our first child was a boy, I’m still wrapping my head around the concept. It’s not that I don’t want a daughter; it’s just that I’m not sure about the ramifications of trying to raise someone whose personality I may not understand very well. Of course, when explaining this line of reasoning to a friend of mine, she said: “You’re just being sexist. You may end up having more in common with her than your son. Maybe she’ll even like video games!”
While my friend was trying to make a serious argument about the subtleties of gender identity vis-à-vis parent-child relationships, I decided to miss her point entirely, and instead fixate on just the last thing she said. Maybe she’ll even like video games? WTF??
I suppose the reason I was so impacted by this statement is that I hadn’t ever considered that there was an alternative. I mean, wouldn’t she like video games? What’s not to like? Is there some sort of fundamental incompatibility between the female sex and the most technologically elegant form of entertainment that exists in our modern era?
Lara Croft: an entitled, self-centered, homicidal bitch with no respect for the archaeological scientific process and impossibly large breasts. What a great role model for my daughter.
I suppose I’ve always known that gaming was a stereotypically male interest, but I hadn’t given it too much thought before now. (I know my wife doesn’t really play video games, though I assumed it was because she grew up on a dairy farm, and you can’t hold an NES controller if your hands are always wrapped up in cow tits.) If video games do appeal more to men than to women, then I would like to find out why this is the case. To this end, I’ve concocted some theories (based on absolutely no expertise or evidence) that I’d like to share:
  1. Traditionally, video game narratives focused on male protagonists. With modern games, however, this is less and less the case. In fact, many games allow complete character customization to an almost ridiculous level. If you happen to be a half-Asian, half black shemale and you want your Mass Effect character to look just like you… well, we have the technology.
  2. Another argument would be that video games focus on typically male interests, namely killing things in various ways. I’m not sure I buy this argument either, as most of the women I’m friends with seem pretty vicious, and would likely enjoy sawing a Locust in half with a chainsaw if they gave it a chance.
  3. A third argument is that video games are basically masturbation, which—I think most people would agree with me here—is also a male-dominated form of entertainment.
  4. Finally, there’s the tautological argument: women don’t play video games because, well, they don’t play video games. Maybe they just didn’t grow up with this stuff, and so it’s hard to pick up as an adult. I like this last argument the best, because it means my daughter has a chance.

Any of you gamer chicks out there want to chime in? What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Comparative Gender Studies

  1. I think the theory is more like this: Wife’s role taking care of kid, making dinner, cleaning house, and anything else the husband does not want to do. Husband’s role go to work, tell the kid to be quiet, eat dinner, mess up house, AND HERE IT IS lay on the coach holding the remote flipping through the channels. I ask you where does the woman have the fortitude or given the opportunity to hold a controller?

  2. Since you asked for a gamer chicks POV let me try to tell you why I at least love video games. Let me start, however, by taking on your theories one by one.
    First Theory- I personally never had a problem with the male protagonists. Unless it was trying to come up with a name for one in an RPG. Most of the classics had female characters that any girl would fall in love with. My personal favorites are Yuna and Marle. Let’s not forget about the classic female leads either, like say, Samus. Plus I don’t think I have to tell you that males and females look pretty much the same in an 8bit game.
    Second Theory- I have to agree with you that some of my women friends are far more vicious then the men. I also know that there have been many times I wanted to pick up the controller and shoot things. If we focused on the “I don’t like all the violence” argument. I really don’t see that one being valid anymore. Not with all the “family friendly” games. I think I would only see a problem with sports centered games. I think that could be solved if she liked the real sport though.
    Third Theory- I have nothing to say to this except to laugh.
    Forth Theory-I think growing up with them may be key. I know some of my best memories from childhood involve playing video games.

    When I ask my female friends why they don’t play video games many of them say they didn’t have a chance to play. Some say they were denied the chance to play, by an older sibling or a parent. Some say(this one is my favorite) that they just hate video games because Their husband plays them too much and doesn’t pay attention to anything else. I don’t understand why they most blame the video games if their husband is an asshole? I could just be overly defensive of my video games on that point…I know first hand that MMO’s especially are addictive and even the best people fall victim to them.
    I love video games for countless reasons. If I had to pick just a few reasons that would draw her into the video game world they would be the stories, the art, and the bonding. Saving princesses, traveling to far off worlds, having epic adventures. What child male or female wouldn’t love that? I think I am partial to the art because I myself am an artist. But think about characters such as Mario,Spryo, or Sonic. The have big,bright colors and big, bright features. Just like 99.9% of children’s cartoons. So that draw would be natural. Lastly, the bonding! Yes, bonding. I said before that I have a lot of good childhood memories involving video games. Many of those include playing with my brother,or my parents, or my whole family. I have spent countless nights playing Dynasty Warriors or Mario Kart with my husband just playing and laughing. Just think of her growing up with the memory of playing a special game with Daddy. How could she not love video games when she has a special memory like that to hold onto.
    I hope I helped even a little. Grats and good luck! <3

  3. I like video games, but I am definitely not a gamer. Personally, I don’t have the attention span for long drawn out ones. My all time favorite game is still Lemmings, and I haven’t ever gotten the hang of RPGs. Still, I enjoy playing silly iPad games. I grew up with video games (and surrounded by boys that played video games incessantly), but to me there are just too many things I want to do out in the world. I could take those hours on the couch and instead join a volleyball league, play my fiddle, make something crafty… What doesn’t make sense with that argument though is that I love to read. I would happily spend hours on the couch with a good book. Dang. I am no help

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