Another Not-So-Bad GF List

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.

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7 thoughts on “Another Not-So-Bad GF List

  1. I think it’s evidence as yet another way in which I fail at being a woman that I absolutely and utterly despise shopping. Unless it’s for camera/computer accessories and I have a lot of money.

  2. I’ll have to agree with you for the most part, but I don’t like that games like FPS are presented as some kind of all-time gaming achievement (i.e. “If you can get a girl who started out with no interest in video games to enjoy a co-op shooter, you’ve done well, exceedingly well.”). It just seems that they’re breaking games down into gender stereotypes that are just as bad, like Mario games are for girls but real (male) gamers play Halo and Grand Theft Auto. That bit rather left a sour taste in my mouth.

  3. DS said:

    I think it’s evidence as yet another way in which I fail at being a woman that I absolutely and utterly despise shopping.

    Actually, it’s evidence as yet another way in which the stereotypes about women fail real women in that there are many women who feel exactly the way you do.

    Sara: Oh, yeah, that’s a really good point. I think I’ve become so sensitive to the people who can only see criticism in what I say and ignore that I also point out good things, that I’ve fallen into the same trap I warned against in this post: giving things a pass because the overall message isn’t bad.

  4. How wonderfully ironic that all the information from that list was common sense to me already, without the aid of a “get your girlfriend into gaming” list. Yet for the life of me I dont seem to meet any girls who game/could be persuaded to game, let alone into a situation where we could become friends. I agree that it could have been worse, but I spent most of my time reading through that thinking “is this supposed to be a revelation to me?”. Maybe Im wrong for taking it this way, but its written for a male gamer and written like said male gamer is stupid/ignorant/selfish. Though I suppose I have no reason to complain, as I said its not like I need this list, even if I did want to introduce a friend or partner into gaming.

  5. Jona: I think you hit the nail on the head; the kind of gamer who typically seeks out girlfriend lists is ignorant and selfish. They want a girl who will do everything they want to do, have sex when they want to, and then when they want to game leave them alone until they’re ready to do something else that involves her. That’s why the lists are constantly written as they are; they cater to the myth that you can do this to your girlfriend and 1) not be an abuser, and 2) she’ll do exactly what you want because the hypothetical girlfriend in most lists (and most of these kind of gamers’ minds) has no agency of her own.

  6. Andrea, I hope my friend doesn’t get mad at me for posting this without asking her, but she made such a good point that I thought that even though this isn’t my interest or cup of tea and I wouldn’t be any good at doing it myself, perhaps I might motivate someone to take on the project:

    “A recent Shrub post discusses a few flaws in a mostly-good ‘how to get your girlfriend to play video games’ tutorial. These are all well and good, but am I the only one who feels like this time could have been put to better use by just *editing the damn wiki* so it doesn’t have those problems anymore?”

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