Tagged: studies

Video Games and the Construction of Violent Masculinity

Much of the research I have read on this topic (and I have exhausted myself doing so as I have two children who play video games and one of them is male) suggests no “direct” cause only correlations – in other words it is complicated, and the propensity for violence cannot be blamed on any one factor just like listening to heavy metal music, or reading comic books does not “make” you a sadist however if you already are, you are likely to enjoy the masculine and violent themes of much of that media and the same goes for games like Grand Theft Auto or Doom.

So producers wash their hands of the issue saying they are just catering to the consumers. The problem is that culture and media are so imbricated that there is no pinpointing of ONE source of messaging – it all works together to send hegemonic messaging to citizens that women want manly men, and you are supposed to want a woman, therefore you must be a manly man, and to do that you must be tough, and then there are various interpretations of what that means.

Social and evolutionary psychology studies suggest that the drive to procreate, and to survive underlies all this, then of course there are the factors that affect your psyche before you are seven. By then the messaging from your family, your community, your society and your culture are well embedded in your brain, before you have the capacity to think critically about it. As youth or adults we can laugh at some of these themes and assess them for the ridiculous fantasies that they are, but as children we cannot and if this is the main messaging that we are sending to our children, then we cannot be surprised that these concepts are so deeply engrained in our culture.

Anthropologists and psychologists will also argue that what was appropriate for the survival of aggressive nomadic sheep herder tribes (like the Britons and Celts – who many White Canadians are descended from as opposed to more peacefully-oriented agricultural societies) are not always the same skills we need to navigate contemporary society…so there is our ancient, inherited knowledge and belief systems, along with our individual drives, our cultural values, media messaging, family, community and school dysfunctions (that likely have included violence on some level), mentors or role models, hormone levels of testosterone and personal goals, abilities and resources that all factor into whether or not a man, or a woman for that matter, is likely to be more or less violent and aggressive.

My point is – that humans have the unique capacity to over-ride their lizard brain urges with frontal-lobe critical thinking, which is what makes more so-called civilized, chivalry and gentlemanly conduct possible, but it is slower and takes more effort, and is sometimes impeded by chemicals (drugs, alcohol, etc) or different physiological/psychological abilities. So there is no one answer to this issue.

Personally, I limited outside messaging (TV, Internet, Magazines and newspapers) with the youngest members in our household and when it was allowed, it was never restricted, but always mediated and deconstructed by older family members that usually resulted in interesting discussions. I think this is the key because I don’t believe in censorship or “molly-coddling” children – they need to learn about the world and know the ugly and the beautiful parts of it, so they can deal with it. Therefore, I think that training children to think critically is more important for personal empowerment and the future of humankind than blaming media.

nb: My son and daughter are now in university, seemingly well-adjusted and generally doing well in life. Although they spent a few early years annoyed with me for the differences in our household when compared to that of their friends – by middle school they were more appreciative and could quickly recognise biast messaging. 

Representation and SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification)


I find I am quite exasperated reading academic work on gender or sexual representation.

There is much discussion about male and female representation in medial culture, in addition to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Everything in neat binary categories.

One category if you have certain chromosomes, a penis and testes and another if you don’t. One category if you are attracted to the same sex and another if you’re not.

And all the while lamenting on the ‘marginalized’ of society and how communication and cultural studies should seek to emancipate individuals from oppression.

Isn’t this a little hypocritical when in reality there is an entire spectrum of sexualities and genders that are not being acknowledged in academic discourse? isn’t that oppressive?

Indeed even the language used in such discussions “opposite-sex attraction” implies a binary.

When we are born we are defined as ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ on our government paperwork that will be used for the rest of our life.

When we are in public spaces, we have to make a decision on whether it is more acceptable to use the ‘men’s’ toilet or the ‘women’s’

When we are given forms  we are asked to tick one of TWO boxes: M or F.

When we are in social situations, if we are not attracted to a member of what could be perceived as the ‘opposite-sex’, it will be assumed that there is only one alternative.

It is endless…

Media culture representation discourse focuses on men or women, gay or straight and discusses the aetiology of these artificial social constructs, but not the continuum of alternative possibilities.

Gender has nothing to do with binary categories or medical dictionary definitions and sexuality is far more complex than just “who “you are attracted to, or if indeed you are attracted to anyone at all.

Our society needs some additional constructing apparently, because the limited binary role models we currently have are not adequate or inclusive.

Who we are, who we identify as, is affected by our biology, and our environment. Our gender and sexuality reflect the complexities of these relationships that two simple categories do not adequately encompass.