Feminism, men, and video games

In my run-in with a few caricature feminists last year, I disagreed over something pretty simple. There was a picture of two fat women next to an article about fat women and medical care on CNN. The caricature feminist, Suzanne Franks, said that it was a sexist picture because it didn’t show their faces, instead only focusing on their “boobs and vagina”. Several people, including myself, pointed out that it would be wildly inappropriate to feature their faces, and besides, the article was about fat people. The objectification was on fatness, not women per se. For that I was deemed horrifically sexist; I clearly must hate all women. In fact, I was accused of only disagreeing because the blogger was a woman. In reality, I actually had assumed she was a man. A small part of the reason is that most bloggers are men, but there was also this reason:

As I (audaciously!) explained in previous posts, I never said my assumption (that the post was by a man) was good or bad. What’s more, I was also going on the fact that Franks looks like a man with long hair in her picture. I didn’t originally raise that point for the sake of not being so crude, but if she’s going to hammer on the point, then that’s what’s going to happen.

So in my effort not to be insulting of her face, I had to say I had an assumption I knew wouldn’t going over well where I was. But I figured I had at least won the point: If I assumed the blogger was a male, then I couldn’t possibly be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing with a woman. Of course, actually addressing that point would be embarrassing; people don’t like to admit when they’re wrong on the Internet. Instead, everyone focused on the fact that I had such a crazy! assumption in the first place. I freely admitted that it wasn’t a great assumption to have, even if most bloggers actually are male, but that didn’t really matter to anyone. Assumptions?! YOU HATE [whatever that person likes]!!!

So that brings me to a recent post by PZ. He talks about some new book that says 21st century men are immature and not living up to any real standards. The reason? Feminism, of course! It’s clearly a stupid premise.* However, just as stupid is the claim PZ makes that men aren’t growing up for the intrinsic reason that they are men. If there’s a problem with this generation, it isn’t just with one sex or the other. (Not that I think there’s something horrid about this generation: PZ is an old guy, so he’s falling into the trap into which most every old person before him has fallen – he thinks young people suck and we didn’t have to walk 15 miles in the snow to get to school just so we could get our daily whipping!)

But his unusually muddled post aside, several of the commenters take the time to mention video games when talking about immature men. Jadehawk had this to say:

meh. I don’t mind the non-marrying, non-settling down sort of man. I don’t even mind the video-game playing, spending all night on the internet type. In fact, I’ve got one of those at home.

It’s the entitled douchebags I mind. Those who think all women are supposed to play mommy for them.

While I’m glad Jadehawk (look at me, not assuming his or her sex!) took the time to differentiate between these type of men, I still really hate the association between video games and the immaturity PZ discussed. It’s just an ugly assumption. And aren’t assumptions like that just shitty? They were when I made them about Franks being male.

But on video games: first of all, video gamers are nearly split 50/50 between male and female today. Second, if someone goes on and on about the acting or the storyline or the plot twists or the cinematography of a movie, why, that’s just an avid movie goer; that person really appreciates a form of art. But video games? Nah. That’s just childish baby-baby stuff. It’s totally different because, um, well, uh, um, um, um, it just is, okay?!

You know, I don’t think my points here are too crazy. 1) The connection between feminism causing immaturity in men is just as nebulous as the connection between men and some magical intrinsic immaturity. 2) The assumptions we make, while almost always more common and with more impact from the dominant side, are often a fault. 3) Video gamers are composed of an ever-increasing even mixture of men and women, neither of which is immature for wanting to have some virtual fun.

But I’m sure that’s horribly fucking sexist in someone’s eyes.

*According to the comment section on the post, it looks like that isn’t really the premise of the book. The website reporting it, WorldNutDaily, seems to have given things their own spin.

5 Responses

  1. just a few points.

    First off, where do you get the number that gamers are split nearly 50/50? Last demographic reporting I’ve seen on it it was 60% male… that’s fairly significant statistically. Next, about the age… only about 1/4 of all gamers are over 50. I’d say that’s pretty young.

    Second, while PZ might be falling into the old trap all us old people do, which I’d characterize more as having the unmitigated gall to think we remember what it was like to be young and assume that the young haven’t had the experience of looking back at their age in retrospect (since it’s their current age), I wonder if you might be falling into the trap a lot of younger people face: that old people can’t know anything because times have changed so damn much. (for the record, I remember thinking that back then, too.)

    Look, there’s a lot of reasons women think men are becoming less and less mature, and a lot of it has to do with responsibility. When men raise their children in equal numbers as women, we’ll talk about it. When men work as hard for their dollar as women do (and DO remember that men are still paid higher than women for the same job) we’ll talk.

    Is the video-playing irresponsible man a stereotype? Yeah… and maybe it’s unfair. But I’d also say a lot of those “caricature feminists” you’ve run into have some pretty interesting anecdotes about their own encounters with those immature, video-playing males.

    And just out of curiosity, why are YOU so defensive about that particular stereotype?

  2. As of three years ago, the numbers were 60/40. That’s getting pretty close, especially considering that a swath of the gaming community is composed of those who grew up when video games really were still a male stereotype. As time progresses, these numbers will get closer; it isn’t right to say or imply that videogaming is just for men.

    Every generation thinks the generation that follows it isn’t as good. There’s no reason to believe that PZ’s observations are any different from every old person before him.

    Look, there’s a lot of reasons women think men are becoming less and less mature, and a lot of it has to do with responsibility. When men raise their children in equal numbers as women, we’ll talk about it. When men work as hard for their dollar as women do (and DO remember that men are still paid higher than women for the same job) we’ll talk.

    My concern here is over the implication that men are intrinsically less mature than woman. After puberty, we aren’t. That doesn’t take away from your points – I think they’re valid. It’s the claim that I see again and again that tries and blame the very fact of being a man for any number of things. Point to culture and society, point to the institutions and the structures we have in our lives, our assumptions, the media and erroneous beliefs, fine. I agree with all that. I just resent being told that I’m immature because I’m not a middle-aged woman. Sure, maybe I am immature. Go ahead, anyone is free to point that out. But it isn’t because I have a penis.

    And just out of curiosity, why are YOU so defensive about that particular stereotype?

    I’m not a huge gamer at this point, but I have a large number of friends who do play. I see the quality of the games they like and I can’t help but appreciate everything that goes into them. Anyone who isn’t ignorant (like PZ) about the industry knows that it bears a huge number of similarities with so many other forms of art, especially film.

  3. Besides, the stereotype that video games are for nerdy baby-baby men only serves to make it more and more difficult to grow the market in a way that is more inviting towards women.

  4. I noticed that, too. In his eagerness to mock the silly right-wing conclusion (“Men who don’t settle down are immature because of eeeevul feminists!”), he blithely accepted their equally absurd premise (“Men who don’t settle down are immature”).

    I’ve noticed Myers has a bit of a blind spot in gender issues… specifically, he eagerly adopts the extremist-feminist position and regards all disagreement as inherently idiotic, much like he treats avowed Creationists, Holocaust deniers, etc. This is clearly an error, since the meaning of gender issues is a matter of interpretation and opinion, not scientific fact.

  5. If anyone ever accuses me of reading this blog just to find something to disagree with, I will point to this post. Loony political extremists always make silly factual statements and you did a great job here of thrusting them into full view.

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