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The PA Report - Gendered marketing, and the myth of disinterested female gamers



  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    This is absolutely false. If I hold a party and I invite everyone from the PAR forum but you, you understand that you're being excluded. If I do that every single day, you get the message: it isn't for you. You seem to have an inverted understanding of the relationships between audiences and marketing. Audiences don't 'earn' marketing, the whole point of marketing is to 'earn' an audience!

    Male fans of My Little Pony FIM manage to enjoy the media despite it being marketed soley at young girls.
    Bronies make lots of media related to the show like the pony mods for Skyrim, Fighting is Magic and even hold their own conventions.

    This is despite Bronies being called every name in the book, labelled as paedophiles by some and being the target of mockery on every corner of the internet.

    If you really enjoy something seems like people will enjoy it even if it's not marketed at them directly. Seems as per the previous example, guys manage it despite a whole bunch of adversity. Do you think women less capable of doing what they want for some reason?

    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • OhoniOhoni Registered User regular
    @Xao. There is no burden of proof on me, or the toy companies to prove that girls inherantly prefer Barbies over Transformers. They believe that to be the case, they believe this is the way they will make the most money, the burden of proof would be on those opposed to that status quo. Where is your evidence that there is no innate preference?

    Again, it is not discrimination, it is not exclusion, it is just what the marketers believe is an efficient use of their resources, they are not under, and should not be under any obligation whatsoever to employ their marketing dollars towards a social conditioning program. They are employing their marketing dollars as they should, to sell as many units as possible. If you believe it would give boys or girls a more positive self image if they marketed differently then that's lovely, but completely irrelevant. If you believe that they would sell more units with different marketing, then that could be relevant, but the burden would be on you to prove it. Merely claiming that they would, and therefore they should spend the money to prove your theory for you, makes no sense.

  • xaoxao Registered User regular

    Discrimination is treating different sets of people differently. That's exactly what's happening here. Exclusion means 'leaving out'. That's also happening here. You don't get to redefine words simply because you don't like them.

    You are absolutely under a burden of proof when you claim that girls and boys have inherently different toy preferences. You'll note that I've never brought up any 'positive self-image' claims. That's a construct of your own imagination. I've also made no claims about total product moved in either case. I've simply asked you why you believe that males and females prefer different toys, then pointed out the logical holes in your smokescreens.


    Do you think that a person should have to be reviled, mocked, and erroneously labelled as a paedophile in order to consume their preferred entertainment? Is it acceptable to treat other people that way?

  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    @XAO You didn't answer the question. Don't change the subject.

    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • OhoniOhoni Registered User regular
    @Xao, but it's not treating anyone differently. Marketers treat boys and girls the same, as customers. That they choose to use certain actors in commercials and not others is not discriminating against customers that do not look like those actors. Whether you look like the actors in the ads or not, you are exactly as free to buy their products as those actors themselves are.

    And no, I'm under no burden of proof because that's the accepted wisdom. The burden of proof always lies with the one challenging the accepted wisdom. The accepted wisdom could, and in many cases is wrong, but you have to prove it first. If you need some research though, here's a study that shows that both male humans and male primates seem to prefer "boys toys" while both female humans and primates seem to prefer "girls toys." I doubt the monkeys have seen a lot of ads.

    Here's another article describing attempts at "gender neutral" society engineering:

    I've seen a few similar studies that seem to indicate a natural link between genders and "gender normative" toy selection, as well as the basic fact that attempts at making "cross gender" toys like My Buddy or She-Ra tend to be met with more limited success than the gender normative toys. I have seen no evidence to support the idea that gender plays no natural role in toy selection, so unless you'd care to present some, stop with that line of argument.

  • RogerGLednemRogerGLednem Registered User regular
    Okay, now we're talking! So if parents are responsible, maybe we could try to target parents with a campaign to reduce gender norm reinforcement. These kinds of ideas are the kinds of ideas that lead to fruitful discussions, and there is plenty of futile discussion going on in this thread.

    It's clear that the main disagreements in this thread are about

    1) Whether there is a problem

    2) Who to blame

    I'm not interested in assigning blame, but Ohoni clearly maintains that there isn't a problem. I disagree. I think that societal stigma about what boys and girls can do, and then what men and women can do, is clearly pervasive, though not -entirely- enforced. Sure, Bronies get treated like a creepy joke, but they can enjoy their show if they're willing to put up with the stigma. Surely little kids can do that as well. But they aren't likely to. They're just kids, and not generally capable of navigating the world in a dispassionate, logical way. And the world keeps turning! The world keeps turning when transgender people are murdered for being different:

    Toys and video games being marketed to specific genders is NOT equivalent to the murder of LGBT folks, but it IS part of the societal reinforcement that leads to discrimination. Marketers, toys, parents, developers, other kids, teachers, movies, books, media of all sorts; these all, largely, reinforce gender normativity, which leads to discrimination. I believe this is a problem, and a big one, and targeting marketers is only a small piece of the puzzle.

  • xaoxao Registered User regular
    @Ohoni You have an odd definition of "not treating anyone differently". Are you seriously claiming that Transformers are marketed to girls? That Barbies are marketed to boys?

    The idea that males and females have intrinsically different tastes in toys is absolutely NOT the accepted wisdom. The article from your link is hilarious, but useless. Shockingly, in a society that expects children to behave in certain ways, the children largely behave in certain ways. Call the sociology professors! Furthermore Ms. Sommers isn't clear on the difference between "right-wing" and "left-wing", deliberately misinterprets the results of actual studies, and engages in several straw man and ad hominem attacks. This isn't a study, it's a poorly written opinion piece. Feel free to link one of the actual studies that you've found.

    As far as studies demonstrating the opposite? Oh, hey, first page of Google results gets you the work of Professors Judith Elaine Blakemore and Jeffrey Trawick-Smith.


    The question relied on a false assumption: that because Bronies can enjoy a show despite being reviled, mocked, and erroneously labelled as paedophiles, that somehow demonstrates that social norms aren't incredibly powerful in shaping us as people. I'd argue it demonstrates exactly the opposite.

  • OhoniOhoni Registered User regular
    @RogerGLednem, sure, and even Bronies can enjoy their show without any stigma at all so long as they don't like dress up like ponies and make a big deal about it or whatever. I think you jumped the shark entirely when you started talking about murder though. I don't think anyone in this thread is condoning murder. Right guys? Murder is bad? Agreed? Ok, moving on.

    Also, toys and marketing don't lead to discrimination. Discrimination leads to discrimination. Just as children are likely to choose certain types of toys because of their gender, they are also likely to dislike people who are different than them. That is just a part of human nature that we try to grow out of as a society. Children are naturally wired to dislike people who would choose a different toy than they would, whether or not that toy choice is impacted by gender stereotypes. Here's a 60 minutes piece about studies that seem to indicate that even infants prefer people who like the same things they like:

    "Solving" toys won't do anything towards resolving discrimination in general. At best it's just static that annoys more people than it helps.

    @Xao, I'm not claiming that Transformers are marketed to girls, I'm saying that it is not discriminatory to not market towards a particular group. Marketing isn't free, they can't just throw money at every possible niche market just because someone in that audience might want their products. They have to use their marketing dollars wisely, and that means aiming at the largest possible and most receptive audience. This is not at all discriminatory. To argue that it is would be like arguing that someone is being "discriminatory" for getting married, because they really should be hooking up with anyone and everyone that might be interested in them rather than "discriminating" and focusing on the one person most compatible with them. There's nothing wrong with focusing your attention where it is most productive.

    And yes, the idea that males and females have intrinsically different tastes in toys absolutely IS the accepted wisdom, and backed by various studies as well. You have yet to present even one study that backs your assertion that it is not true.You insisted that we needed to provide evidence, I have done so. Your turn, or drop it.

    I looked up a few articles from Blakemore and Trawick-Smith, but none of them seemed to indicate that gender bias in toy selection was not a real and natural thing, they just seemed to think that it was something parents should fight against anyways. That's societal engineering, it does nothing to change the underlying desires. All it's doing is telling boys that they are wrong for wanting to play with trucks and girls that they are wrong for wanting to play with dolls. Let children play with what they want to play with.

  • RogerGLednemRogerGLednem Registered User regular

    That's exactly why I argued that the problem can lead to an environment that results in murdering those unlike you. I'm very glad that you agree that murder is wrong, that was the point. You don't seem to see any harms in societal gender normativity, so I had to reach or you'd never admit there is a problem at all. My paragraph started small, with smaller harms that you might not agree are harms, and built up. Why fixate only on murder (with the weakest chain of logic to support it)? Grown men face stigma for liking "girly" things, children (far less capable of dealing with stigma) have the same problem. When we live in a society that rigidly attempts to encourage gender normativity, we encourage hatred of those unlike us. Hatred of those unlike us can lead to murder.

    Marketers aren't murdering people. Disliking someone for being to girly or manly isn't the same as murdering people. But if you won't accept social stigma as a harm, do you deny that social stigma leads to the kind of hatred seen throughout history for the "other"? (Note, I don't care at all whether hating the other is "natural" or not)

    I want you to see that there COULD BE a problem, even if you don't think there is one. This is the first step! I just want us to agree that something is happening - admitting that gender normativity is a thing and that it regulates behavior is not controversial.

    NOW we can talk about whether my link to murder is valid, and whether societal pressure is a good or bad thing, but only after you admit that it IS a thing. Ideally, you wouldn't respond with "There isn't a problem" anymore, you would respond with "I see your point, but I think there is more good than bad in social stigma". A discussion, to be fruitful, needs to build on some form of agreement, or we just keep repeating the same arguments over and over, like the last 15 times you said that marketing isn't discriminatory because they just want money.

    P.S. I'm sure Bronies are thrilled to be told they can do whatever they want as long as they hide it from the world, just like gays love hearing that still today, and interracial couples loved hearing that 20 years ago (and still today). "Don't make a big deal out of it" is a stupid, old, discredited argument.

    Come on! -Gob Bluth

  • OhoniOhoni Registered User regular
    @rogerglednem, I repeat that there's nothing wrong with societal gender normativity. There's nothing wrong with it. People are different. People don't automatically like people that are different. The solution is not to pretend that everyone is the same and to Harrison Bergeron every possible difference between people, until everyone is identical shells to everyone else and everyone is pressured by society to consider everyone else to be "perfectly normal," no matter what they may say or do. There is a "normal," and there is an "abnormal," and the existence of both is totally fine. No matter how hard we try to pave over the wrinkles, there will always be people who are considered "different." The only lesson we need to teach and enforce is that it's not ok to HARM people who are abnormal.

    I see your point, but I don't agree that it's a problem, it's just a neutral circumstance, neither problematic nor beneficial.

  • hextopiahextopia Registered User regular
    edited December 2013

    I think the problem here is your slippery slope argument that society's gender norms lead to murder eventually. I agree that the link might be there, but to say that because a link might exist between bad thing Y and thing X means we should stop thing X from happening is, at best terrible and irresponsible thinking. There is a line drawn in the sand defining what is legally right and wrong, and I think we should do everything possible to prevent those wrong things occurring, but not at the expense of those things that aren't wrong.

    Disliking people you don't agree with or who don't think or act the same way as you is part of our nature, and as long as we refrain from acting on those feelings, there is nothing wrong with them. Trying to remove heterogeneity from society is at best an activity with large effort required for such minimal gains, and at worst destructive of our ability to evolve as a species.

    Furthermore, I believe the stated "problem" is non-existent in that we no longer live in a society where it is accepted to discriminate against others. Women are the equal of men before the eyes of the law, and the eyes of society, and only rarely do we see actual, harmful discrimination.

    As for bronies and gays, the song they're dancing to now is the same one we've all been dancing to since the beginning of time. People who don't like the same things as you don't want to hear about those things from you. I'm not gay. I have gay friends. My gay friends don't discuss being gay with me, and I don't discuss being straight with them, because we both understand that we're not mutually interested in that.
    Bronies get harassed and stigmatized because they try to share their uncommon and fanatic love for something with people who don't care or want to know about it. It's one thing to wear a T-shirt with something you like on it, it's another to run around wearing a body suit of your favorite character/mascot/dressed as you favorite actor/etc. Being fanatically interested in anything is stigmatized, and should be, since it helps us as people find others who enjoy the same things as us, without having to fully engage with others about things we don't care about.

    hextopia on
  • RogerGLednemRogerGLednem Registered User regular
    @Ohoni and @Hextopia

    I want to say that these last posts have felt much more productive than the many before them. We are focused on one area of disagreement, and more willing to concede that other ideas have merits, even when we disagree with them. Thank you!

    I'm not sure I can convince you folks that there is a problem, and without that first step, trying to discuss solutions is obviously pointless. Before I go, I just want to post a few claims you two make that I disagree with, so that anyone else reading can decide for themselves what they believe. We report, they decide :P

    1) Ohoni says "The solution is not to pretend that everyone is the same and to Harrison Bergeron every possible difference between people," referring to Kurt Vonnegut's story where anyone who is different in a society is burdened until they are as effective as the least effective person in society, for equality. While an interesting thought experiment, I would never suggest such a thing - it's quite the opposite of the stated goals of most multicultural activists, who celebrate diversity. However, you do note that we should teach people that harming others for their differences is not okay. I think we should try to broaden tolerance a little earlier than that, but at least our disagreement is one of degrees.

    Based on your comments about normal and "abnormal", I expect that you don't agree with multicultural social science that would back away from the use of those words entirely. Many people like to discount multicultural social science, and I'm not prepared to fully defend my belief in their studies, so I leave your apparent opposition here for any third party to note as they read and understand your views. Please do correct me, if I'm wrong.

    2) Hextopia says, "Furthermore, I believe the stated "problem" is non-existent in that we no longer live in a society where it is accepted to discriminate against others. Women are the equal of men before the eyes of the law, and the eyes of society, and only rarely do we see actual, harmful discrimination."

    I do not agree.

    Thanks for hearing me out, -Roger

  • Danimal876Danimal876 Registered User new member
    I tried reading the article, then I skimmed it. I looked back at this description, and when I read in the article that games like Myst and The Sims have a heavy female user base, I just don't see how women are excluded from video games.

    As imprecise and rambling as this article is, it looks like third-wave feminism is leaking over into another medium. Video games are more popular than ever, there are more options available to everyone and all kinds of people, but Tracey Lien sees a problem. "In order for video games to overcome their existing stereotype, they have to be sold to us as general purpose products."

    I don't want a general purpose product, because I am not a general purpose man. And most people out there are naturally feminine or masculine. Will Tracey Lien be there to tug at our heartstrings when most boys and girls are left feeling alienated because what is offered to them is an androgynous mess?

    Though it wouldn't last. "You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she still will hurry back." - Horace

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    The thing that is amazing about these comments is how many people are proud to explain that they don't get it.

    A bunch of women are speaking up and saying, "Predominantly, the thinking in marketing is that women aren't interested in video games. That isn't true, and here are a few of the games we loved. We'd love to play more games, and see more games that realize how many of us are out here. We're tired of men assuming we don't like games."

    In response, a large number of young men who are not employed in the industry wrote, "There isn't sexism women just don't like games. Some women do and they are already well-served by the games industry."

    The absolute lack of vision and empathy in literally ignoring what someone else is saying to you, and then responding, is amazing, and I really hope that over time some of the men so eager to tell these women how wrong they are realize what is really happening here.

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