Friday, December 30, 2011

The Magic of Girls

For the past little while we've been assembling jigsaw puzzles in lieu of reading stories at bedtime. Lily is good at it. (Good enough that she hides the box and its reference picture, which sometimes makes the process longer than I'd prefer.) At one point, while fitting the final piece into place, she proclaimed "The magic of girls!" in triumph.

A couple days later, I was playing a game called Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (a sci-fi retelling of Journey to the West, and one of the best video games I've ever played. It's going to get its own post when I finish it. (Edit: Here's the review post) Available for a steal on Amazon right now!) and I let Lily pick up the controller during one of the parts that I knew didn't have anything inappropriate.

There are two characters in the game, and they have to work together to get past obstacles. Monkey, the male character, is tremendously strong and amazingly nimble, capable of climbing just about anywhere, and Tripitaka, the woman, is more focused on solving the technological puzzles.

We were exploring Trip's mountain village when Monkey leaped across a chasm and Lily asked, "Can I jump across that?"

I replied that different people are good at different things. "Trip's not as strong or as good at climbing as Monkey, but he's not as smart or as good as building things as she is."

Lily said "Or as nice either!" and it's strange to think of niceness an attribute on the order of magnitude of other, more easily quantifiable traits. Sure there are actual differences between men and women, but these are as much cultural as they are physical.

The video of the little girl who objects to the steering of girls towards princesses has been getting a lot of play in certain circles, but here's a link to it if you haven't seen it.

I want Lily to be able to pursue anything that interests her, be it superheroes or princesses. (Or weirder stuff. She requested, and enjoyed, and infectious disease stressball for Christmas this year.)

She's on a math kick lately, and we spent the day after Christmas solving basic math problems on the back of a sheet of scrap paper, and I think that's just great, because she's never been told that girls "aren't good at math". It's something she enjoys and something she's good at. I want her to live in a society where she's not judged for being a woman, and where she gets every opportunity available to her male counterparts but that's not going to happen in my lifetime, or hers, so the best I can give her is the confidence in herself. That, and nurture her belief in the Magic of Girls.


  1. nice post josh: ah the magic of girls.

  2. I'm conflicted that Tipitaka (alt. spelling in the translation I read: it means triple baskets) is a female in the video game. On the one hand, I think it's important for there to be more female protagonists in video games, for some of the reasons you discussed (e.g., from a cultural perspective, women have not been conditioned to know they are just as capable as men in the sciences). At the same time, however, Tipitaka is a male character in Journey to the West.

  3. I just finished the game and it's really quite unlike anything I've ever played. I'll have a full post about it eventually.

    I've read that the character of, Xuanzang/Tripitaka, though not a woman in the original work, was a very beautiful young man, to the extent that in modern performances the role is often played by a woman.