15 February 2011

We Let Our Sons Get Away With More

My thoughts are spurred after reading the press release by BYU about an article by Sarah M. Coyne outlining some benefits of parents video gaming with their children, between the ages of 11-16. (A study which I am writing a column about, so I do respect the study and it's findings, it just had me questioning somethings)

We let our sons get away with more compared to our daughters.  At least knowingly.

This study related positive outcomes to video gaming, particularly with our daughters.  It also revealed the games we play with our kids.  Parents will most often play Mario Kart, Wii Sports, Mario Brothers, Rock Band or Guitar Hero with their daughters.  The top games with sons however are Call of Duty (sum of all versions), Wii Sports, and Halo 1, 2, and 3.

Recall the ages of the youth are 11-16.  So browse the girls list of games and the sons.  A good chunk of the games played with sons are not age appropriate, whereas the games played with girls are. Of course girls aren't into gaming as much, I understand that.  But we are talking about Dad sitting down and playing with his 12 year old son Call of Duty, and re-inacting virtually past warfares. However, Dad won't do that with his daughter.

It's like the classic thinking of my son needs to engage sexually to become a man, whereas my daughter shouldn't because she is a precious treasure who should save herself for marriage.  This stereotype, per-se, is being displayed in the video game realm.

I recall once watching a movie, that a sister switched spots with her brother on his soccer team.  Near the end of the film, it was challenged to see if the girl really was a girl.  So she lifted up her shirt on the soccer field, and there was silence in the crowd, and the parents were displeased with their daughter doing that.  The son too was challenged to see if he was a boy. He dropped his shorts, and the crowd erupted, applauding and rewarding his behaviour, the parents too were proud of their son.

Why the difference in responses? Why do we 'allow' our sons to become "men", but preserve our daughters as girls? Why the difference in gender treatment?

Unfortunately, I do not have an answer, except that this seems silly. If a movie, or game, or whatever it may be is rated 18 and older, don't let one gender child view it and not the other.  If they are both under 18, neither should have access. No one gender is better, nor privileged, nor able to stomach more inappropriate material than the other.

Consistency. We need consistency.