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March 14, 1996 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-14

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88 - The Michigan Daily - Wa ., 4t. - Thursday, March 14, 1996

Sexist board games:The Man' infects board-game industry

By Otg Parker
Daily Arts Witer
I started thinking about Barbie the
otherday. I contemplated Barbie's nega-
tive portrayal of women - one time I
heard thatif Barbie were a real woman,
she would be six-foot-four with a waist
of 16inches and ... well, you can figure
out the rest. Of course, we all know that
women's feet really do slope like
Barbie's, ready to slip into any high-
heeled shoe. And we all know that all
women really drive pink Corvettes and
motor homes, just like Barbie.
Casually thinking about Barbie, I thought
about other sexist toys. Many playthings,
from My Little Pony to Smurfette, filled my
thoughts. Iflippedonthetelevision,andthen
it hit me-the end-all-be-all genre ofsexist
toys-board games.
Everyone played board games when
they were kids. Parchesi (more like
Parcheesy), Life, Monopoly (let's hear it

I found shelf upon
shelf of pink-fily-
princess-thismoan
that mixed in with
the death-
destructommuscle-
manly games.
for capitalism!), Chutes and Ladders -
this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Recently, board games havebecome much
more complex and specific. Sure, there
has always been imperialistic Risk, but
only recently has there been female-spe-
cific Mall Madness, where "girls" can
find "giant sales and special bargains"

while taking advantage of our mass con-
sumption culture. Even the old standby,
Operation, has somewhat misogynist ste-
reotypes - the patient is a man, the doc-
tor is a man, and alas, the nurse is a
woman.
I decided to venture to the local Toys-
'R'-Us to attempt some in-depth research
regarding board games. To be honest, I
figured I'd find token titles like Mall
Madness, or maybe Pretty Pretty Prin-
cess, or a few other nauseating games.
Much to my chagrin, however, I found
myriad misogynist games; I found shelf
upon shelf of pink-frilly-princess-pretty-
this-or-that mixed in with the death-
destructo-muscle-manly games. It was
enoughtomake one sick, andto make one
question how far we've actually come
concerning gender portrayal.
One of the first games that came to my
attention was Sealed With a Kiss. On the
box, the description of the game was rather

straightforward - it was deemed the "kiss
collecting game." Apparently, the first girl
(moreon this later) to collect five kisses wins
the boyfriend depicted on their boyfriend
card. I'm really glad that little girls every-
where at formative ages are playing games
in which the one who gets the most kisses
gets a boyfriend. This marks a new level of
superficiality, and while this may be stretch-
ing it, this also instills in young women that
the more you act physically (read: "put
out"), the more likely you will be to get a
boyfriend.
Notice I said "girl" above when I was
summarizing Sealed With a Kiss strat-
egy. I have good reason; where most
games indicate number ofplayers, Sealed
With a Kiss indicates that it is for "2-4
girls." At least this game didn't try to hide
the fact that it is gender specific.
Moving down the aisle, I came to Party
Mania, which promised "frantic, fren-
zied" action and lots of "cute guys." The
basic premise ofthis game was to "collect
'get ready' tokens for your hair, outfit,
makeup-everything you need." Appar-
ently, after successfully getting ready for
the party, get "mom's stamp of approval"
and then you go to the party and do
whatever. Rubbish like this game links
winning and success with looking good
physically - it only reinforces societal
tendencies to portray women as objects
without personalities. Ofcourse, this isn't
really groundbreaking news, but to see it
in action at such a young target audience
is appalling.
Skipping over the comparatively mun-
dane Pretty Pretty Princess, the "jewelry
dress-upgame,"andMall Madness, I looked
for games that would push the envelope of
sexism. I got what I was looking for in Girl
Talk. The title is self-explanatory, and it's
just as bad as it seems.

WHERE You 'R4
--~ HE DOCTOR
IV C- Fmy Bone 0*00
4700
Operation; You may be the doctor, but even the box has gender stereotypes.

Fnotadaway

(remembering budd
ARTISTS I
n t f d a a Buddy Holly At
The Mavericks " Nat
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Carpenter and Ke
remembering bud4y holly) Joe Ely and Todd Sn
and Steve Earle " Sup
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Waylon Jennings w
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y

holly)

Girl Talk is basically a game of gossip. If
gossip isagenderlinked word, which Ithink
it is, then this game fits this stereotype to a
tee. Quotingthe box:"Can'tgothroughwith
a date? Don't want to tell the truth? Be ready
to put a blazing red 'Zit' sticker on your face
... then check out the cards to see what your
friendsthinkofyou."I'm notmakingthisup.
So the axioms we can take from this game
are as follows: Zits make you lose and are
punishment, and it matters what your friends
think of you on a superficial level. Again,
this game stresses appearances and gossip
and things that are typically linked with
being a woman.
One of the last games that caught my eye
was Don't Wake Daddy. Let's hear it for
paternalism - the idea of the game is to
tiptoe around"Daddy" while he sleeps (pre-
sumably after a hard day's work). Ifyou do
have the misfortune of waking "Daddy,"
then he "will send you straight back to bed."

I've always had a problem with this game,
from the time I saw it.advertised op televi-
sion ayearagountilthetime Isaw itin Toys-
'R'-Us. Thank God someone is supporting
male domination.
I'm sure many people won't think the
big deal - board games are only toys, only
,for kids. But don't forget that manyimpres-
sionable children play these games which
enforce sexist genderstereotypes:.And don't
forget that both boys and girls play these
games -they could have influene over
how women actas when older, and likewise,
these games could reinforce how boys view
women when they are older. Mostimpor-
tantly, these games represent theway soci-
ety views women as a whole. Ifsorething
as minor as board games exhibits wojver
such anegative, genderized fashion,it's safe
to say that society as a whole is much more
guilty of the same offenses. This is sad
indeed.

INCWDE:
nd The Holies
nci Griffith with The
tors " Mary Chapin
avin Mogornery
ider e Marty Stuart
y Bogguss and Dave
ty Gritty Dirt Band
,ith Mauk Knopfler
N!
k-a-like contest at Tower
$50.00 gift certificate!
19th @7:00 pm.
will receive a free
rt & CD sampler!

V-chip is'electronic brain condom'

SALE ENDS 3/13!96

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1214 South University Avenue, Upstairs
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1000s & 1000s OF BOOKS * BESTSELLERS 30% OFF!
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The Hartford Courant
Stand back!
I've got ratings fever!
And it's building.
Suddenly I feel lightheaded.
Like I can't think at all.
I'm guessing I caught it from the presi-
dent of the United States.
I know it's going around.
Just a few months ago, most TV execu-
tives I talked to thought the v-chip - an
electronic device coming to a television
near you that will block so-called objec-
tionable programming ifyou want it to -
was a dumb idea.
They called it scary. Unfair. Unconsti-
tutional.
Then they had a meeting with Presi-
dent Clinton.

91d 1.1

Ill1

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V

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And now, they're all walking around
like Stepford wives, pledging by January
to come up with a v-less, TV ratings
system that will make America safe again.
That's why I'm starting to get the chills.
To sweat. Become disoriented.
I'm thinking back. Remembering what
I've been exposed to. What kind of risks
I've taken having lived life without an
electronic condom wrapped around my
brain. (Good heavens, I watched "The
Three Stooges" as a child!)
It makes me want to label everything.
(Is it just me or is it getting hot in here?)
I don't think an MPAA system is good
enough.
It doesn't go far enough.
I need more letters working forme than
just a G, an R or an'X.
I'm easily confused. I thought "v" was
for victory, not violence.
I need everything spelled out for me.
I need acronyms.
We're ALL going to need them.
Why leave room for doubt or debate?
The more acronyms, the better.
And I think I've got a plan that could
work.
In my system, most prime-time pro-
gramming would have to have an LCD
(Lowest Common Denominator) rating
- the equivalent of the Good House-
keepingseal ofapproval. The LCD would
be a clear indication that most everyone,
everywhere approved of the show you
were about to watch.
Butthisisstill America,sothere'dhaveto
be some room for a difference of opinion.
Just as long as it was uniform.
Some calls would be easy.
Take Fox Broadcasting's "Married...
With Children."
Even people who like the show know
its characters are rude, crude and socially
unacceptable. So "Married" would be
rated BAD (Bad Attitudes Dominate).

The NBC hit "Friends"? Sure to suffer
when the new system kicks in. Alithose
twentysomethings ever do is talk {about
you-know-what. Sometimes they even
do it. They'd get a SEX (Singles Engaged
inX-stuff)rating. (Which,no doubt,would
be coupled with the BAD lalel, as in
SEX/BAD.)
What about "ER"?NBC's top-rateeh
pital show? No problem. They don't ma
do much except race around and cut people
open. Give 'em a BAG (Blood And Guts)
tag. Nothing to worry about there. k
Cop shows like ABC's critically ac-
claimed but V-chip-vulnerablk"NYPD
Blue," on the other hand, would have a
harder time - if it were on the air at all.
"Blue" would get the dreaded SATAN
(Stop And Turn Away Now) sticker.
Thank goodness for sports ptograi
ming. Baseball, basketball, football, even
boxing would get a rousing USA (Uni-
versally Seen as Acceptable).
In fact, in the interest of time and
simplicity,you could rate wholenetworks.
The Family Channel would earn the
much sought-after, advertiser-friendly,
GOD (Goodness is Our Demographic)
designation, but PBS would be slapped
with one big, well, PBS (Probably British
and a Snore).
Talk shows? They're just SAD (S*
And Demented).
Game shows like "Jeopardy!" and
"Wheel of Fortune"? You'd find them in
the WIN (Wouldn't It Be Nice) category.
Just think about how easy, how fuss-
no-muss, it all wouldbe. Everythingsized
up, homogenized and evaluate&before
you even see it.
Hey, you won't need to readthis c-
umn anymore.
Um, you know, all of a sudden ldon
feel so good again.
I think I'm going to read a book or
something and go to bed.

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" pIMPORTANT
~ REGISTRATION
INFORMATION
SPRING, SPRING/SUMMER, SUMMER, FALL
1996
Students will be receiving their registration appointment
times electronically. All registered students with an address
on the X.500 will receive their appointment via E-Mail the
week of March 25th. Registration appointment start timeswill
also be available on Wolverine Access. Touch-Tone
Registration will begin on April 3rd for selected units; on April
8th for undergraduates.

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