Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for Games

Gender Assumptions and Kids

I was at Arisia this past weekend with the Darling Boyfriend. It’s a sci/fi convention, with geeks and nerds and brains all over the place. I’ll blog about the con in a separate post, but something struck me that I wanted to mention in its own post.

There are lots of kids at Arisia (geeks procreate too). Because the Darling Boyfriend has gotten me playing Munchkin, I actually spent some time in the game room this year. There were lots of kids in the game room. A couple kids played in the Munchkin game that I played. And lots of these kids looked either androgynous or completely like the “other” gender. There were a couple little boys that I would have sworn were cute little girls. In fact, without their name-tags I totally would have misgendered them. And I watched other people misgender them several times.

The obvious “answer” is for parents to insist that their children conform to our societal stereotypes of how each gender is supposed to look.

Of course, I don’t think much of that “answer.” (That’s why “answer” is in scare-quotes.)

You could tell that these kids were used to having people make the wrong assumptions about who they are, and they generally handled the mistakes with aplomb. And most of the folks who misgendered these kids instantly turned into teaching and caring and empathic moments (one man even told a little boy about how he had a high voice when he was younger and was often mistake for a girl and how he hated it). It was an interesting thing to watch, all these kids breaking norms and being strong enough to just gently correct people when they made mistakes.

And I wondered if any of these kids were doing more than just breaking societal gender norms. I wondered if any of these kids were expressing something that didn’t have words for yet. I wondered how I could reach out to any of these kids and find answers to those questions. And I realized that I couldn’t. But I did take to these kids instantly. And I know all I can do is be me and live like me and maybe present a positive role-model for any of those kids that are more than just challenging gender-norms, but have deeper issues with their gender. I suffered due to a lack of visible people like me when I was younger, and I’d really like to be available as a role model for kids like I was.

Anyway, the punch-line is…

I leaned over to the Darling Boyfriend at one point and told him that I’m never going to make an assumption about a kid’s gender ever again. I know I will, but this weekend was a powerful reminder for me that people come in all shapes and sizes. We ~glance~ at each other and instantly start to make assumptions. It’s important to slow down and take individuals as just that – individuals.

Oh, and playing games with all those geeky kids just tweaked my “I want a baby” button like mad. Those kids were so frickin’ cute. I want one.

No Geek Cred

So, I often describe myself as a geek, and I really do think I’m pretty geeky. Sometimes, though, I realize that while I have some geek tendencies, I’m certainly not the geekiest person I could be.

My boyfriend runs rings around me in the area of geekiness, as I was reminded of yet again this past Saturday. He plays this game called Munchkin. It’s sort of a role-playing card game. My boyfriend and I played a couple weeks ago after we spent our first night together – he taught me how to play. It was fun. So, he goes to a weekly game on Saturdays at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge, and this week I went with him. There was a Munchkin tournament on Sunday so he wanted to get in a little pre-tournament warm-up. I didn’t have other plans so I figured I’d go with and play.

I had never been to Pandemonium before (which, right there I lose tons of geek-cred), and I was amazed at just how much it fit the stereotype of “geeky game store.” As soon as I walked in the door I knew I had entered a whole new world of geek.

An interesting thought occured to me – this is a place of community. One of the things that’s become clear to me is that when I was younger I had very little community. I’d say my drum and bugle corps was really the only place I felt any sense of community, and even there I often felt pretty isolated. I’ve said in the past that when I was little I was such an outcast that I was even isolated from the geeks. Being in that store confirmed to me that I was right – geeks ~do~ have community. I was ~alone~ when I was younger. I would have loved to have been part of any community, and it was neat to enter into a community-space for geeks.

(Oh, and I wasn’t even the ~only~ girl there – I saw one other girl. But I think it was even more “mostly guys” than the music store is. Wow.)

So, we got some snacks at 7-11 and then settled in downstairs to play Munchkin with a couple other folks (including one of the guys who works at the store). It was fun. We played “The Good, The Bad, and The Munchkin,” which is a Wild West version of the game. I liked it more than “Super Munchkin” (super heroes), which is the version that my boyfriend and I had played a few weeks ago. My boyfriend won the game at the store, but I came in second [hooray]. I had been a little worried before we got there, because I had only played once before; I was worried about looking like a noob. But the guys were very chill and there was someone else that had only played once before, so I felt very welcome and had lots of fun. It’s a fun and twisted game. I would go again sometime.

After the official game, my boyfriend and I played a game of “Munchkin Impossible” (spies) by ourselves. I didn’t like “Munchkin Impossible” nearly as much as “The Good, The Bad, and The Munchkin.” It seems like each different version of Munchkin has a slightly different flavor – some seem more fun than others.

We also played a card game based on Zombies with another guy who works at the store. It was silly and fun. We used a die to represent the “brain,” and the guy who works at the store kept putting it on his head.

After gaming my boyfriend and I dashed to the theater and saw District 9. It was really good, but it was very challenging to watch. I steered us away from Inglorious Basterds because I wasn’t in the mood for something heavy. Well, I bet this was (slightly) less gory, but it was very tough. I probably would have been better off at Inglorious Basterds. The way the aliens were treated was just very difficult to watch. People can certainly be awful to minorities sometimes. I’d highly recommend District 9, but just go in with eyes wide open – it was really heavy.

Yet another super-fun night with my wonderful man. Yay.

I’m dancing on the ceiling.


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