Thursday, March 27, 2008

The weaker sex, apparently

Where you at all familiar with the Miss Bimbo game before the press suffered a collective fit of the vapours over its very existence? Thought not, so it's an excellent PR coup for the makers. There's something especially strange about a lot of the criticism it's attracted, however. Here's a fair summary of the criticisms:

Healthcare professionals, a parents’ group and an organisation representing people suffering anorexia and bulimia criticised the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children.

While I've no doubt that young girls would rather be thin that not, pretty than not and that this game reflects those interests there's one important point they are overlooking. IT'S A ROLE-PLAYING GAME. The most dorky, geeky, uncool thing imaginable and not generally something to boast about being influenced by.

Teenage boys have long been playing these things in basements and, of course, there are periodic moral panics about those too (oh look, here's an example from today). However, no one, so far as I know, has seriously argued that more teenagers are shooting each other than ever before because they've been playing too much Grand Theft Auto. (Then again, I've seen the argument that Dungeons and Dragons will turn people into genocidal sociopaths so it's probably only a matter of time).

We could patiently rehash the arguments about fantasy not being the same as reality, most people (even teenagers) being able to tell the difference (to paraphrase Charlie Brooker slightly: "I spent Sunday playing Civilisation, building a society dedicated to culture, enlightment and learning, in my pants surrounded by piles of unwashed crockery and overflowing ashtrays) and the fact that the ones who can't are worrying in a whole heap of ways unrelated to computer games. However, the arguments in the case of Miss Bimbo seem to be implying that teenage girls are in some way weaker and more in need of protection. The Times's Alpha Mummy blog hums and haws around this point, but with the starting premise that teenage girls are "particularly susceptible" and "can get dangerous and unhealthy ideas into their heads pretty quickly" she's not quite able to convince herself that girls will be able to act out some of their Paris Hilton fantasies without coming to grave harm.

I don't really know what goes in the minds of teenage girls, I do wonder, though, whether the author thinks this unique vulnerability is confined to body image, or whether we should protect teenage girls from things like politics and religion too lest they fall prey dangerous ideas. It does seem strange, however, that someone writing as an "Alpha Mummy" is helping to revive the notion of women as the weaker, sillier sex.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most dorky, geeky, uncool thing imaginable is a blogger putting down role-players.

9:29 pm  
Anonymous Derek and Clive Meet General Rubbish Drunk Trot Will said...

Actually, there is (at least) one thing that is more dorky, geeky, uncool than a blogger (let alone a relatively ungeeky one like Bill) putting down role-players: and that is an ANONYMOUS BLOG COMMENTER putting down a blogger for putting down role-players.

You stupid fucking cunt

9:49 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

As someone who knows very well indeed what goes on in the minds of teenage girls, I'd say they are a lot less susceptible than teenage boys and the idea of role-playing is a non-starter - they'd rather be doing than playing at doing, believe me.


11:15 am  

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