"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Antifeminist Childhood: Gameboy, Talkboy, Walkman, & Discman Edition

Ever notice how gadgets can have the word "boy" or "man" right in the name and they're still considered universal, but we all know that if they had been given more feminine names, no self-respecting boy would ever use them? A few too many of my favorite pastimes as a kid involved such masculine-named devices.

There was the Nintendo Gameboy:


The Sony Walkman:


It's CD-playing follower, the Sony Discman:


And the ultimate tape-recording experience, the Tiger Electronics Talkboy:


Okay, okay. So, I never actually owned or used a Talkboy. But I'm sure I wanted one, since I found Macaulay Culkin's use of it in Home Alone 2 so ingenious and clever, and since I so vividly remember this commercial for it:


Dolly said...

Ugh, this irritates me as well. Which is why when I illegally downloaded my "Gameboy Advance" emulator, I renamed it "Dolly's GameGirl." I think it would be cool if Nintendo would actually release a Gamegirl, but if they did I'm almost 100% sure it would a) be a bright, sparkly pink and b) only marketed to girls. >:(

Tracey said...

Ugh, I know what you mean. After I posted this, the spouse pointed out that he's pretty sure there was eventually a TalkGIRL to complement the Talkboy, but it still had to come out after the original, and I'm sure it was pink and for girls only.

The Magnetic Crow said...

'Gamechild' or 'Gamekid' sounds fine to me. :\
I don't know where the idea comes from, that if something isn't "masculine" enough, or marketed hard enough at boys, that they'll reject it. You see that in PlayStation and XBOX advertising now, too. SO. MANLY. YOU. MUST. PLAY.

As a gamer girl, it makes me sad. :(

Tracey said...

Yep. There's a total polarization of the sexes at play, here. Which is why anytime anything in gaming is marketed to girls or women, it's SUPER feminized to the point that it's incredibly patronizing and insulting.

lindsay said...

I remember those commercials! I thought they were immature back then too. Although now watching it with my humorless feminist lens, I noticed that, of course, the girl in the commercial sits there passively while the guy tries to kiss her. Oh those pursuing teen boys and those girls as gatekeepers of chastity!

K said...

Ironically the GameBoy console actually sold really well among girls, at least as far as video game consoles go. I forget the exact percentages now but I remember reading one or two articles in video game magazines back in the day that talked about how it had a pretty strong demographic among girls.

plumpdumpling said...

Why are all of these electronics so sexy? I really think of iPods and iPhones as being incredibly hot, but that TalkBoy is turning me on in all sorts of ways.

Anonymous said...

Dolly: There were actually "girl" versions of almost all these: I know there was a Gamegirl and and a Talkgirl, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a Walk Girl or a Disc Girl, either.

The Gamegirl and Talkgirl were both pink/purple, if I remember correctly.

Kelly said...

I have to admit I never, ever noticed this before.

But now that you've pointed it out, I'm totally pissed off about it.

Kath McD said...

Someone mentioned video games being marketed at boys, and I think it's fair to point out that in most games, the main characters are almost always male, unless the game is specifically for a female audience. Even in first person shooters, we're told or at least taught to assume that our character is male. So on a positive note, I really liked Portal, because when I caught a glance at "me," I looked very feminine.

Angela said...

I had a talk girl, it was identical in every way except that it was a sparkly pink/purple with dark purple buttons.

Tracey said...

Amazing! But totally not surprising.

Anonymous said...

I remember making my old gameboy a gamegirl when I was little, by putting tape over the words and writing over it. ...Huh. Never thought about any of this until now.