Thursday, November 09, 2006

Girls versus Boys

Dropping my 7 year old daughter to school this morning I was struck by the behaviourof the 7 year old boys from her class. While supposed to be waiting in line an impromptu tournament had broken out with boys trying to wallop each other by swinging their school bags. Now the bags are heavy and even a 7 year old could probably do damage with one if they tried but it was obvious that all of the participants were greatly enjoying the contest even those on the receiving end of blows. There was nothing threatening or intimdatory about this roughneck play.

In my experience girls never play at fighting. If a seven year old girl was to swing her bag at a colleague chances are something far more serious is going on - possibly bullying or intimidation.

I guess this type of play historically prepared men for the battles they might have to fight as adults. A less obvious result is that it also teaches men how to control their strength and aggression. Although the participants went at each other with considerable gusto they stopped short of causing any real harm. If you have ever witnessed a no holds barred fight between adult males you will understand that it is a terrifying experience with death a very real possibility. The lessons earned in the playground and on the football pitch are probably vital in teaching us guys how to limit and control our testoterone fuelled aggression. Women do not have the same testorone engine and are generally less agrressive of course but I have noticed that when a woman gets angry they can often be far more viscious and ruthless than a man in the same situation. A notable case recently in the news in my country involved two young women who literally hacked an alleged abuser to pieces.

Most of my friends and acquaintances would consider me to be a fairly mild mannered non aggressive individual yet virtually all of the computer games I play involve killing. My wife has often commented on this and points out that it is one of the reasons that she rarely enjoys playing computer games with me. I guess gaming is an outlet for my testosteronal urges and my gentle wife has no need for a similar outlet. I know that gaming is predominantly a male hobby and I wonder if the prevalence of violent games is a cause or a result of this. There does appear to be a growing cadre of female gamers however - particulalry at younger ages. Some of these may be playing non-violent games but I have certainly come across a few women who delight in player versus player battles.

No comments: