Scientists say men excel at the word game because women dont like pointless pastimes. But freelance novelist Phoebe-Jane Boyd cant believe this shes devoted to wasting time
Another week, another academic examine asserting that” humen are just better at this thing because …”- this time in the much-anticipated( by someone out there, surely) Gender differences in Scrabble performance and associated engagement in purposeful practice activities from the University of Miami. Sounds like a rather dry and unexciting analyse, perhaps, unless you’re a media outlet that likes to use these opportunities to create more old-fashioned hokum about gender.
With recurred” If you are able to unscrabble( insert big word beginning with Z ), you’re probably a man, huh huh huh” openers, reports about this study share the conclusions that 1) Human are simply better at Scrabble than women, OK 2) Women play for fun, and 3) Human were ready to spend more hour on the boring stuff, and that’s why they succeed. As the original analyse words it:” Gender differences in performance[ is] fully mediated by lower engagement in purposeful practise by females and by their rated preference for playing games of Scrabble .” And what some have reduced it to- women don’t like pointless pastimes that waste their time; men do.
If you’ve ever known an old snore who likes to go on about pastimes you don’t care about who is also is shaped like a woman or identifies as one, you’ll know that the above affirmation about gender simply doesn’t hold true for all of us. Plenty of women like devoting time to useless hobbies and bearing pursuits, and are very happy to drone on at you about them. For instance- here I am.
But first, let’s waste some time on the laser-focused Scrabble study- this one with the aim to find out why there are problems getting women around Stem professions, apparently. Released last week, but using data collected as long ago as the 2004 US national Scrabble tournaments, humanity is split into only two genders for the concluding points of such studies. Which is quite antiquated( you can get 24 pointsfor ” antiquation” in Scrabble, by the way- I confirmed this with A Man ), but then the 2004 tourney might not have featured many uses of the word” kyriarchy“, or “binarism”. Thirteen years ago was very different.
There’s no arguing with the fact- mentioned in the study- that the last 10 world Scrabble champs have been fellas. But there is room for arguing about the specifics raised about Scrabble( there’s always room for arguing in Scrabble) and gender in the study’s conclusion. Being from a family where every Scrabble game has been won by my super-competitive sister and lost by my brother, hearing” humen are better at Scrabble” is moving forward so confidently by various news outlets this week seems bizarre. Because, simply, that isn’t an indisputable or undeniable statement.
My family is a boardgaming bunch( of bears) with different specialisms and skillsets- like most families- none of which have ever appeared to be dependent on gender. My sister: always wins Scrabble and Boggle. My brother: particularly great with cooperative boardgames. Me: I meta-play during coop games to go against the group, but am currently undefeated at Settlers of Catan. I dislike boardgames. But I’ll spend time seeming up strategies to win because I don’t like to lose. That’s a waste of time, perhaps, but you’re dealing with a win here. At Catan, plainly- not in real life.
I, a woman, like lots of women, devote is high time to pointless pastimes. Some of mine are reading about and watching documentaries about serial killers/ cult leaders, for instance. Why: I don’t know; I’m not going to use that info any time soon( I promise ). I waste time watching pro-wrestling every night of the week, soaking up all the names for move situates, research results, where the next pay-per-views are occur, all while knowing the results follow a predetermined script. I can’t place any gambles as a result, and I’m not going to be challenging any of the musicians to a strap match any time soon. So, why? Well, that pointless quest thing females aren’t supposed to be made for, I suppose.
My prizes for the devotion to time-wasting don’t include a Scrabble championship, but, instead, a perfect Catan record; and painfully detailed fact-retention on serial killer John Wayne Gacy, religious cult leader Jim Jones, and wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper( none of which I will put in to use in real life, I promise ). All of which, on reflection, probably attains me more of a loser than a winner. However, one thing that is certainly not determined by is my gender- and neither is my Scrabble score.
* Phoebe-Jane Boyd is a freelance journalist who writes on politics and pop culture
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