How to Get Your Girlfriend to Play Video Games is one of the better lists out there. I am still not, and will never be, a fan of these lists, but if I had to put together a list of GF lists that I don’t think encourage misogyny, this would be on it.
The list author takes a lighthearted tone, reminds the reader that the woman in question may already have experience in games, and focuses on tailoring the experience towards the individual woman’s personal tastes and treating her as a partner rather than something you need to shut up between sexual exploits.
I am still unhappy with the frame of “girlfriend” — not all gamers looking to avail themselves on this kind of advice are heterosexual men; what about the guys with boyfriends, the girls with boyfriends, and the girls with girlfriends? Nothing on this list is inherently gender or sexual orientation specific. A little neutral language could go a long way in making it widely accessible to all. That, and if you want to emphasize certain messages for certain audiences, you can start the article off as neutral and mix up the terms of address to be explicitly inclusive of all gamers who want to share their hobby with their non-gaming SO’s.
There is also one part of it that made me cringe. The “shoe-shopping” reference. Up until then the article had been completely without reliance on stereotypes — indeed it would often start with the stereotypical advice and then turn it on its head in order to remind the reader that his girlfriend was a human being not a caricature of feminine ideals.
And then we get to the wonderful point of, “if you want to introduce your partner into a hobby, be prepared to reciprocate the experience”. Women have a wide variety of hobbies — even if we limit ourselves to the stereotypically feminine, there is sewing/knitting, doing something creative (ceramics, drawing, painting, writing, etc), reading and discussing novels, etc — so why, oh why, does it always come down to, “omg women r teh shop-a-holics!!!11eleven”? Seriously. Women != shopping.
Furthermore, liking shopping doesn’t equal seeing it as a hobby, or that every list directed at guys about women needs to point out how much we women love shopping. Presenting shopping as a hobby, rather than something women need to do and therefore find ways to enjoy, isn’t just unrealistic (yes, these women do exist, but I would dare say they aren’t representative of the majority of women and therefore shouldn’t be used to represent women as a whole in every damn list), it’s downright insulting when that’s always the stereotype these guys are being spoon fed.
Okay, I have spent the majority of this short post expounding on the issues I have with the list. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s one of the better ones: I obviously do. Two bad points out of the entire list ain’t bad. But “ain’t bad” doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better, and it’s up to us as readers to exercise our critical thinking skills on everything we read, especially the ones that we’re inclined to give a pass to because they are overall good.