Game Boy

Sandler, Lauren
February 2003
New Republic;2/24/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 7, p38
A new addition to our household has taken up an enormous amount of my husband's time, drawn his friends to our apartment in elated droves, and reduced these grown men to sub-verbal states. No, unlike most young-marrieds in our neighborhood, we haven't added a baby to our family; we've added a video game platform, on which my husband, Justin, and his friends have been playing a breed of video games significantly racier than the joystick fantasies of our teens. "BMX XXX" is a game that simulates cycling. By allowing boys (or grown men) to control a topless woman as their player, it could give a boost to both radical anti-porn feminists and conservatives who campaign against youth exposure to media violence and sex. Even the most radical anti-porn activists and theorists grant that the consumption of pornography is an inherently passive thing, and historically it has been their burden to demonstrate how something so passive can connect with the active consequences they suggest: what scholar and activist Catharine MacKinnon calls "women's lesser entitlements--not to be raped, dehumanized, molested, invaded, and sold." In her book "Only Words," MacKinnon argues that pornography constructs "the social reality of what a woman is and can be in terms of what can be done to her, and what a man is in terms of doing it." Mike Allen, an associate professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found in a meta-analysis published in 1995 that pornography consumers tended to develop philosophies that absolved rapists of personal responsibility for their actions. Why does this matter? Because, when you combine the effects of watching pornography with studies of video games and violence, you get a sense of the very real effect of the cycling game.


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