Fathers and Daughters

Syfy is airing a new show called Defiance, produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, best known for creating the cult classic scifi show Farscape.  Admittedly, Defiance is not one of the greatest shows on television.  It breaks no new boundaries in the scifi genre, that’s for certain, but it’s watchable.  Entertaining, at least.

I personally enjoy Defiance because at the heart of the show is a story about a father and his daughter, and how their relationship is effected by their changing world and her search for her own identity.  Being the daughter of one very awesome father, needless to say, it resonates with me.  

I especially love the show, and the fact that many sci-fi’s are increasingly geared towards a female audience, because for me, and I assume many young girls, sci-fi was one of the few means I had for truly connecting with my father.  

This is where I’m going to detour into mildly feminist chatter, but I think it’s truly amazing the strives that have been made towards gender-equality in arenas that were once considered “male domain”, yet it’s saddening how long a ways we still have to go.

A prime example would be gaming and computers.  My father, the poor man, had three girls and no sons.  Because my mother worked odd hours, he became the designated caregiver, so we didn’t really grow up indoctrinated with the typical “girly” interests of make-up and clothes.  We grew up with my father’s interests, which included heavy doses of gaming and computers.  

While the face of gaming is changing drastically, as the idea that girls game is no longer the shocker that it used to be, there does remain a population of men in the gaming world of the mindset that girls should not be gaming and cannot possibly be hardcore.  They create deluded reasons for why a girl might be gaming, that she’s trying to impress the guys or something equally demeaning.  While it may be true that some girls game to be one of the “cool gamer chicks”, speaking as a girl who games, majority of girls actually game to game.  

Yet even worse, are the men at the opposite end of the spectrum, who turn into ravenous dogs whenever a confirmed girl enters a game, hitting on her if the game has a chat available and giving her special treatment, thus inadvertently fueling the fire of the aforementioned anti-gamer chicks community.  I’ve heard stories of women – and even men – who take advantage of this special type of chauvinistic idiot, and I’ve heard stories of women who purposely lie about or simply keep their gender hidden because, as already stated, they game to game and they want to have the same challenges in the game that the men face.

Computers, on the other hand, remain steadfast as “male-domain, no girls allowed”.  A few years back, I took a “Survey of Electronics” course, and in a class of twenty-maybe-thirty students, I was one of two women.  At one point, the department was making a video to promote the course, and the professor singled me out in class to suggest I volunteer to be in the video.  While I applaud his efforts to promote in that video that women could go into an electronics/computer science career, in a way, I’m a little annoyed at the obvious reason of why he asked me specifically, especially in front of the entire group.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately of how women programmers are degraded, and how it continues to be one of the most male-dominated and sexist industries to date.

For Father’s Day, my sister and I decided to do a computer build for my dad.  He’s been woefully in need of a new computer (his old one was pushing seven years, I believe) and he’d been talking about doing a build but he didn’t have the motivation to do it.  We only recently finished assembling, though we’re still waiting on a couple non-essential parts that were ordered online to come in.  

I can’t help noticing when I go to our local electronic’s store, Fry’s, that the computer hardware section is completely worked by men.  Nor does it escape my scrutinizing eye, that the majority of customers who wander into that area are, surprise-surprise, men.  Unless it’s a girlfriend or wife humoring her other half as he peruses the tech.  

This observation is, in no way, meant to accuse the company of sexist practices, but it is noteworthy in that, the most likely cause is they don’t get applications from women for that section, and obviously, they have little control over the customer demographic.  The fact is simple, women do not go into computers.  Which begs the question, why? 

As I’ve already stated, many of my interests stem from my father.  They were my means of connecting with him, and in turn, his means of connecting with my sisters and I.  We’re still not living in an equal world, though we inch closer everyday.  I think for many young girls, a large part of closing the gap and evening the playing field comes from fathers impressing upon their daughters that they can really do anything, and not simply saying the words but inviting their daughters to share in their interests, especially those once or even still thought to be “male-domain”, be it computers, gaming, cars, sports, or even, sci-fi.  

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome fathers in the world.

And for anyone who might be interested, the specs on my father’s new build: Intel i5 4670K, MSI Z87-G45, Antec HCG 750, Corsair Force 120 gb, Corsair H100i liquid cooling system, 16 gb Patriot RAM, Coolermaster Haf XB, and Windows 8 (I tried to talk him out of it….).  We’re waiting on a nVidia GTX660Ti (I believe is what he went with) and a 3TB Seagate Barricuda. 

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