Action figures are sooooo dumb! I mean really! I really don’t like playing with them, and there is a certain young man that I like a great deal who invites me to play whenever I stop by to visit his Mom. He believes I am visiting him and she’s just getting in the way of our fun, the way moms do, you know, get in the way of F-U-N. He is a really good action figure player. I can go through the motions and kind of pretend close enough to convincingly that I get invited back to play. He’s so good to me when we play that he even let’s me choose the action figures that I want on my team when we begin to “play”.
There’s a few odd realities that I have noticed in this “play”. First, if you are the visiting playmate, you don’t get to really make any decisions. You and your team will ultimately “lose” or die or have to get stuck or trapped or blocked from any real victory. Your twirls and kicks and weapons are not ever as good, they are defective or back fire and kill your whole team. The home-team advantage permits the home team guy to have the massive plastic fort and all the good hiding spots or the chance to, oops! forget to put the talking, mechanical, remote control transformer action figure into the mix of action figures you got to choose from.
So before long, I find myself realizing I have to just pretend I am excited or tell my pint-sized friend “I have ….. a headache tonight”? OK, are you getting this? Action hero play figures seem to be training camp for things to come. Can’t we do something about this? I mean really, am I honestly supposed to just sit/lie there and pretend I will enjoy any of this? It’s so passive! What would happen if I started really kicking things up? I try, I start to state that I have some new power and…. “No, No. No, Ginger, that’s not the way you play!” (Groooooaaaannnnnnn The story of my life, never playing the right way!) It just seems to me this play is all covered in gender role development in the most glaringly inequitable of ways.
I can’t help but feel like women – mothers can make some great inroads into the male psyche by slightly adjusting the action figure play dynamic. I try to change the rules. I try to make the decisions. I even try to be the one with the best equipment. Only to find out the guy here and elsewhere, have the bigger, better, more powerful tools time and time again. The unfair advantage. What can be tweaked and slightly altered in this play? What would permit me to level the playing field and have a shot at victory, if even, a long-shot? My direct approach got the smack down, this carries through for me in other interactions as well. The direct approach is typically not so charming and sought after.
I try to tell my friend, his mother, my observations without causing her to get really freaked out. “So, do you see the correlations between action figure play and gender roles …..in the bedroom?” I don’t know how successful I was, there was a noticeable stiffening, but I have been invited back and now I am being asked, upon entry by another young man that I like a great deal, the younger brother, “Gin-juhhhh, you wanna see my toys?” He heads up to his room and I am expected to follow. I am expected to passively admire and adore. I do, for him and his brother. But am I sending the wrong message? Do I need to feign or express, truly, I really don’t like….action figures and transformers, and all those other curious, shiny pieces that fit together and make noises and shoot sparks. OK, I guess I really do like them but I want to play with them a little deeper. I want the action figures to dialogue, and solve problems, and pick up the kids on time, while they rule the world. I want to win sometimes and come out on top and occasionally make the home team a little cautious or thoughtful and maybe on their toes because “Gin-juhhh’s in the house!”
I should probably start playing with someone my own size. Maybe I should don a cape and mask and see how that works with my dating adventures. High wasted leotards and tights? Grrrrrrrrrrwwwwlllll. Hisssssssssss. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Why is the only girl super hero with any appeal a cat? Because cats are indirect?