T.L. Taylor Lecture – You said whaaaat?

There are a lot of academic things I could say about the presentation T.L. Taylor gave today, but instead I want to focus on the best/worst thing I heard all night: “Society views video games as bad and as a waste of time, so isn’t it kind of good that women aren’t playing them so they have more time?” More time for what, pal? To make you a sandwich? Let me just say, T.L. Taylor is the essence of poise and grace, and after answering that question she is my idol of the gaming world.

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10 Responses to T.L. Taylor Lecture – You said whaaaat?

  1. vishesh2013 says:

    Seriously, that was ridiculous.

  2. ibull says:

    Totally gets at a point TL brought up in class about debates around participation in videogame culture—the myth that if we don’t like how things are, we just shouldn’t pay/participate.
    If we aren’t more critical of crap opinions like this, we’re passively reaffirming sexist behaviors, social structures, institutions, etc.

  3. knystrom2013 says:

    This question surprised me as well. I don’t think he said it with any misogynistic intent in mind, but he generalized society, women, video games, and wastes of time in one sentence. They’re certainly very multifaceted groups, which I think he failed to take into account. Possibly what he meant to say is that for those who think playing video games is bad, they would be glad that some people don’t. Which is rather tautological, it makes me wonder why he thought it needed to be said in the first place. I bet as a girl gamer this really set you off – sometimes it’s so hard to talk about this stuff as a white male who’s never experienced what it’s like to be on the other end of this unusual gender gap in video games.

    • kjjohnson52 says:

      I had a long reply to this, but it got deleted by the magical world of internet. I will say, though, that it makes total sense why it’s hard to talk about it from a male perspective, and I think that’s compounded by people not experiencing that very often. Society has ‘moved on’ – said loosely because obviously sexism and gender inequality still exist – so some people think all these problems are gone. That’s why things like this are so unbelievable, because of the broad generalizations that we’re supposedly moving past. And while video games are not life or death, this guy failed to consider that it’s not just girls or women ‘not playing’, it’s girls and women who are actively excluded, degraded, mocked and bullied in ways that are uninviting, upsetting, and sometimes hateful. That’s a pretty big deal to dismiss with a, “Well, it’s good, isn’t it?”

      • knystrom2013 says:

        I definitely agree that the reason it’s still around is that lack of perspective. Part of the problem too is that hostile environment concept. The “We don’t want any gays or women in OUR game” mentality, or whatever it is, makes males want to hide in that bubble even further. No one seems to want to wander into the unfamiliar middle ground where women are not the outsiders, it seems to be a vicious cycle of women being turned away by these misogynistic gamers and those male gamers propagating those beliefs in an echo chamber.

        The “moving on” idea is an interesting concept though. While I definitely think some people learn about it, feel that it’s not right, and then forget about it (everyone ever with politics), I think that awareness is definitely growing and probably larger than it was 10-20 years ago. With more and more female gamers emerging, I feel like it must be getting better, but I don’t know anything about the history of this kind of stuff. This would be a good question for Prof. Stabile.

      • kjjohnson52 says:

        Yeah, definitely!

  4. Complicated answer to the questions you all raise — more in class. But neither T.L. nor I were that surprised by this question, having heard variations on it for quite some time. I remember someone asking me about women in combat, for example, or women on police forces, or women in other organizations/institutions I’m critical of, as a feminist. The short answer to the first is that as long as citizenship is grounded in notions of protection and military service, then excluding women from those spaces merely serves to reproduce sexism.

    But at the same time, I do not believe that merely adding more women to those kinds of institutions is going to transform the spaces themselves. Has medicine in the US been transformed by having more women in it or have those women mainly been trained to conform to those institutions? Will having more women in the video game industry transform it?

    Embedded in these calls for “more women” are at least three dubious assumptions. First, that it’s women’s job alone to transform sexist institutions (this gets transferred frequently to people of color who are assumed to be the ones to do the work of educating and transforming white people). And second, that all men benefit equally from these systems of inequality and therefore they can’t learn how to do the work of transformation. And third, that women by virtue of their anatomical configuration, are going to want to be the agents of transformation.

    And one last point. doing the work of transformation — e.g. education — means being patient and sometimes meeting people where they are in order to lead (educare — from the Latin “to lead”) them somewhere else. I think that question was asked in good faith by someone who was genuinely curious. That’s something to be encouraged. Think of it this way: you’re a young man, your whole life you’ve been told that playing video games is a waste of time (unlike playing sports or reading books). You’ve been told that if you devoted 1/2 the time you spent playing games to doing your homework, you’d do well in school (of course that doesn’t take into account that in many classes there are 40-50 students, there’s little time for discussion, you don’t understand the concepts, plus you don’t want to look like a sissy — or someone who’s stupid — for asking questions). Girls and women aren’t the only casualties of ideologies of masculinity.

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