By Jamaal Ryan
There’s a strange phenomenon that comes from the expected social dichotomy of the “social norm” between men and women. When men are assholes, they get more positive attention, are ostensibly more successful at dating, and even revered as leaders in some instances. But looking through this patriarchal lens, women are held to a polarizing standard. Women should be nice, pandering, and passive in order to align themselves with gender expectations.
These gender differences have been given empirical context in a study conducted by members of Virginia Tech, and Ohio & Pennsylvania State Universities. The experimenters played Modern Warfare 3 on PS3, taking on gender specific monikers such as “Ashley…” and “John…”. Their performances online varied, but the independent variable was their online behavior, ranging from spouting phrases such as “nice shot” to “you suck” before sending out friend requests after matches. The concluding factors or the dependent variables were the responses to these friend requests, which the results then reflected that men who were jerks and women who played nice got more friend request responses than men who played nice and women who were jerks.
It’s a rather eye opening phenomena that deeply reflects the attractions, expectations, and even desires of online players. It’s easy to compare online behavior to high school, since it’s safe to assume that a profound percentage of console online competitive shooters are dominated by high schoolers. Remember that douche guy who was loud, obnoxious, and fed off of bullying others? He was quite popular, right? And though it isn’t as cut and dry to nail down that high school girls who reflected the same behavior as some of the more popular boys struggled socially as they had their fair share of followings too, girls with a more “submissive” attitude were far more socially successful than submissive boys.
“Nice guys finish last.” That’s a phrase that my friends and I kicked around when discussing dating in high school and college. The sort of dickish behavior we see from men is often coupled with dominance, and in the worst cases, leadership. It is the bullish machismo mentality that one must steam roll without abandon to get out on top, and men who don’t adhere to this expectation often have their masculinity questioned. And while women can have equal success with such behavior, it’s rarely met without resistance. Within the context of Call of Duty matches, the motivation in accepting a friend request from a female who played nice is often sexual:
“These differences would affect others’ reactions when they become aware of a user’s gender, in which one type of reaction is sending sexual messages to female users.”
We seem to be reduced to our most primitive and most impulsive form online, drawing hard cut expectations whenever any identifying factor is revealed in game, whether it alludes to sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. In the context of gender, we are most responsive to those who behave along the lines of our perception of sex, and ignore or actively distance ourselves from those who violate it:
“The videogame social environment is quite masculine, therefore male players would behave and expect very masculine social interactions and the opposite is true for female players, they should behave submissively or what they think women ought to be. Should a female player violate these expectations by asserting herself, social punishments ensue such as questioning her legitimacy and competence as a gamer . Should a male player violate their masculine expectations, well other men will denigrate their manhood and competence.”