Tuesday, October 28

Why all the differences?

Female/male gamers … women’s/men’s haircuts … women’s/men’s wages … women’s/men’s looks. Why do we make a difference where it’s not necessary, instead of only making one where it makes sense?

Let’s step away from #gamergate, and instead look at gaming as a such. Why is every woman who plays computer/video games considered a ‘fake?’ I know most companies which make the big AAA titles have young men as their target audience, but so what? The target audience for “My Little Pony” are young girls, but there’s loads of Bronies (adult men who love the show, in case you haven’t heard about it) around. A game can have other fans than the target audience it was originally developed for. Why should a woman not enjoy playing an FTP game or an RPG?
The percentage of female customers for the computer/video game industry has been rising for years. The more women use a computer regularly, the more women potentially also play games. Yet, it seems the industry still has to realize this. And apart from the industry, men also have to realize that women just play games, too. Not to hook up with a gamer (for, seriously guys, why should a woman fake interest in computer games just to meet you online?), but because they like playing. Every human likes to play, men and women alike.
There is the whole topic about games either showing women as objects (the ‘damsel in distress’ trophe; basically, a lot of female characters could easily be replaced by inanimate objects without changing the story much) or drawing them as overly sexy (look at those MMORPGs and explain to me how female amour would in reality protect any body part of the woman wearing it).
A little rave from my side here about “Tomb Raider.” I liked the series, I really did (apart from “Angel of Darkness,” naturally). Okay, so Lara has a pair of boobs that would make standing straight a serious problem for her in real life and anyone dressed like her would come back from her adventures basically without skin on her legs or arms, but at least she was one tough woman. I liked the reboot she got in “Legend,” too. I liked the remake of the first game, the “Anniversary” one. I don’t like the new game, not just because of the changed game mechanics. I’m aware it’s supposed to show how Lara became an adventuress. But why make her a soggy, little girl who spends a horrific amount of time crying like a baby? Why throw out all the back story she got in the past, with her surviving that airplane crash as a girl and making it through the snow and the mountains to safety? It shows Lara grew up prematurely, she chose her destination in life early. That’s okay. You don’t see Indiana Jones crying like a baby, because the cross was ripped from his hands in the ‘origin story’ in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” do you? Why? Because he’s a boy, not a girl? That’s where it becomes annoying. Lara was a tough character for years and people liked her like that (ok, most guys probably liked her boobs, but there was a female in a computer game that was not annoying or just standing in for a trophy). Then she was basically reduced to a crying, little girl, just like the annoying sidekick/love interest/person to save you see in too many computer games. And what was even worse: you played her. I like playing the ‘original’ Lara, the one with the two guns who jumps, runs, and climbs through ruins, who fights animals, bad guys, and the occasional demon. I like having a badass character who, for a change, is not a muscled guy (although I have spent my share of hours with Wolverine as well). I always thought she was a logical choice for all that running and climbing and jumping, because I would guess a slender woman to be more agile than a guy with muscles on his muscles. Rant over…

I’m not sure whether the next one is true in every country, but over here, you pay more for a haircut, if you happen to be a woman. Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking now … more hair, more work, so more money. Let me counter that. I have a short cut, have had one for years now. My hair isn’t really longer than that of a guy. I like it that way. But I pay more for a cut than a guy does. Why?

It’s well-known by now that there’s a pay gap between the wages for men and for women doing the same job. Again, there’s no real reason for that. If two people do the same job, they should get the same money for it. (If the person getting less weren’t female, but instead a person of colour or from a religious minority, there would be a lot of trouble coming from that.)
And there’s people who even suggest women shouldn’t ask for a pay raise and instead be happy with what they’re given. Seriously, people, WTF?
Social freezing has also been through the media recently, the offer by some of the big companies to pay for their female employees freezing their eggs and getting children later in life. (In case you’re wondering why they should freeze eggs, if they want to get children before menopause: the younger the person, the better the eggs/sperm, normally, so it makes sense.) Why do they offer that instead of making sure a woman can be both a mother and a successful employee? Many companies basically expect male employees over a certain age and above a certain position in the company to have a nice family with a wife and one or two children. It’s good for the company image, if the managers can pull out their happy, little family for photo sessions. Why doesn’t the same go for women? Because they’re supposed to stay home and raise the kids, even if (and that’s rare enough) the husband makes less? Because it’s too difficult to build and maintain an on-grounds childcare where they can drop off the kids in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon?
There’s a couple of small companies in Germany who do exactly that. They maintain a childcare centre on the premises where mothers can leave their children during work, where older children can come in after school (school in Germany often ends around 1 p.m. already). Their experiences with it are good on the whole. Parents work more concentrated and effectively, knowing their kids are cared for and they don’t have to juggled their workload to fit with the opening hours of the kindergarten.

And then there’s the ‘looks’ thing. What is the most important thing bosses look for, if a potential employee is male? His qualifications in all likelihood. What does always come in, if a potential employee is female? Potential pregnancy and looks. I can understand it, if a company wants someone with a lot of customer contact to adhere to a certain look. I can also understand it, if a model or an actor is judged by appearance to a certain degree. That’s part of the job for them.
Women are often reduced to looks, even while being trolled on the internet. It’s been confirmed by a recent study. Trolls to inflict a lot of insults on both men and women, yes, but in case of men, most insults take the direction of the person’s knowledge. Of their actual right to comment on something. With women, it takes a different direction. Either women are insulted on their looks, called too ugly to even comment, or they are sexually insulted, something like ‘she needs to be fucked, so she sees things right.’ Apart from the fact that sex usually doesn’t change opinion too much (unless it’s the opinion on the sexual partner’s actual sexual abilities), you can see where this is going. It’s not about ‘not knowing,’ it’s merely about being a woman. A woman, the trolls suggest, has to look good, be good in bed, and keep her mouth shut (unless she uses it for sex). Which is probably a reason why some trolls will never get close to any woman in real life…

There are physical and metal differences between men and women (even though it can be argued to which extent the mental differences are a question of upbringing).
Strangely enough, a study found that women have a higher potential for aggressiveness, if (and that’s the important part) they are not judged for it, because it’s anonymous, like in a computer game. If you don’t believe that is possible, check out several of the Rejected Princesses.
It might be good for society as a whole that women usually are too well-adjusted to let their aggressiveness flow freely. Most of the actual differences between men and women, however, are based on their different jobs during propagation. That should not be a reason to completely treat them differently.

There are few things which are truly different for women and for men. Society needs to stop treating us like two different species.