Study Claims Men Who Play Video Games Perpetuate ‘Technomasculinity’

A soldier plays a video game while waiting for his flight to Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton. Photo credit: Cpl Mike O'Neill RLC LBIPP

A new study published by University of Idaho professor Robin Johnson argues that men who work in video game development, play video games, or who are simply passionate about gaming may in fact be perpetuating “technomasculinity.”


Johnson writes in the new piece “Technomasculinity and Its Production in Video Games” that after interviewing 20 video game developers, he discovered that “technomasculnity” is rampant in the gaming industry, hurting women and LGBTQ people in the process.

In an interview with PJ Media Sunday, Johnson described technomasculnity as “an expression of masculinity that is oriented toward the mastery of technology and skilled use of technological tools and systems.”

“In popular culture this type of masculinity is often associated with individuals who are highly competent with computers but typically lacking in social or physical skills,” Johnson explained.

In his study, Johnson traces the development of technomasculinity in men from an early age. One man’s technomasculinity allegedly started when “his father [took] him to his government job and [allowed] him to play simple computer games.”

While fathers are implicated as the catalyst for most men’s technomasculinity, not all are.

“Although fathers got most of the [20 interviewees] into technology and computers at an early age, the father-son relationship is not a requirement,” wrote Johnson, conceding that sometimes mothers are responsible.


But why is this a problem?

If a bunch of geeky men decide to create video games for a living, or work at video game stores, what’s the problem? Well, in line with the “subordination of women” thesis popularized by the University of Sydney’s R.W. Connell, Johnson argues that technomasculinity hurts women.

“Gender is socially organized in the West in a hierarchized binary differentiating men and women along supposedly natural or biological masculine and feminine traits,” said Johnson.

“The association between technology, masculinity, and what we think of as skilled work is still fundamental to the gendered division of labor,” and thus, the oppression of women and the gender pay gap, he added.

Going forward, it’s unclear how this can be fixed. Men, it seems, are in a catch-22.

Any man who likes video games, plays video games, or develops video games is at risk of perpetuating technomasculnity — which, like all other forms of masculinity — allegedly hurt women by its mere existence.


“If you take gender away from the equation, there is nothing wrong with being able to demonstrate technical mastery,” Johnson told PJ Media.

“But as a form of masculinity it tends to exclude women from being seen as legitimate technically skilled individuals. Because being technically skilled is seen as masculine, you end up with the following associations: men = masculine = technically skilled, while women women = feminine = not technically skilled… that is a negative consequence.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.


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