Laurie and Debbie say:
Technology in general, but game technology in particular, is viewed as a masculine domain. Girls use computers to word process, send instant messages, make a MySpace profile–but they don’t use them to slay dragons. They just don’t. And it’s a lot harder to see what’s wrong with that argument than a straightforward claim that slaying dragons is not ladylike.
Cabell Gathman is on to something.. The general thrust of her article is that as our society lays more claim to gender equality, the discourse has changed from “Nice girls don’t …” [cross their legs like that/play tackle football/fart in public] to “Why don’t girls … [study math/play video games/become firefighters].
And, as more and more girls study math, play video games, and become firefighters, the question in the air seems to get louder, rather than starting to diminish in intensity. If the social message is “Girls don’t …” and you’re a girl who does, that makes you weird, by definition. If you’re the only girl in your school who does, you’re weirder. Maybe you’re not “a real girl.” (Back in the days of “nice girls don’t,” if you were the only girl in your school who was known to “put out,” that made you weird, and it bought you a kind of slimy transient popularity. However, being the only girl in your school who wants to be an astronomer is not likely to bring the crowds to your doorstep.)
Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to girls. In the days of “nice girls don’t,” it was “a gentleman doesn’t,” or “what kind of girl would marry a boy who …?” These were much wimpier arguments then, and they have almost no cultural force now. On the other hand, “boys don’t like stories about people; they like stories about adventure and fighting” has enormous force, as does “boys don’t play quietly.” Especially now, when “gay” is the insult of choice in our schools and colleges, being the boy that does something real boys don’t do is risky business.
Let’s turn the whole thing around, and start a movement.
“Real scientists don’t make generalization about boys and girls.”
“Real marketing plans assume that everyone will be equally interested in the product.”
“Real teachers and parents find out what kids are interested in, instead of telling them what they’re going to be interested in.”
Wouldn’t that be something?
Thanks to Kestrell for the pointer.