The historical absence of women at the top of many competitive fields has typically been explained by the patriarchy, an omnipresent and latent force keeping women away from prestigious roles. Whether it is by enforcing gender roles and standards of femininity, or by explicitly discriminating against women in hiring practices, the patriarchy would have, in theory, successfully prevented women from reaching high positions in society. Is the patriarchy behind the fact that all the most successful and mediatized Pokémon Go players are men?
It is unclear how the patriarchy prevented any woman from being in the top 100 Rubik’s cube solvers, top 100 rapid chess players, or Super Smash Bros Melee top 100 players. In fact, remotely all competitions that aren’t subject to gender quotas are almost entirely composed of men. While some of these biased sex ratios might be partially explained by higher and more variable IQs and spatial skills in men, these variables do not account for the fact that the top players of Pokémon Go, a game that only requires having time to kill, are all men! I would be quite curious to know what kind of sorcery the patriarchy used to discourage women from chasing Pokémons.
In my view, the biased prevalence of men in Pokémon Go top achievers can be accounted for by two explanations: sex differences in sociability and competitiveness.
The sex differences in empathy are so universal that some researchers have theorized it to be the main cognitive difference between men and women. Being more empathetic, women have a spontaneous drive to create bonds with others. In contrast, males do to a lesser extent, and orientate towards non-empathetic hobbies, like Counter-Strike, programming… and Pokémon Go. While many men socialize during their Pokémon adventures, the ones who caught all 142 Pokémons in a week definitely did it at the expense of many other things, like a social life.
Add to that a more pronounced taste for competition in males, and you have the perfect mix for an over-representation in any competitive field. Based on all the articles I have read about sex differences in competitiveness, men always score higher. Evolved taste for competition can simply not be removed from the man. Especially if it resembles hunting.
Recent feminist efforts for equality have held the assumption that males discriminated against women in prestigious positions. Yet, it seems like the male drive for competition circumvents any attempt to equalize statistics. While efforts to smash the patriarchy legitimize discriminative practices towards the employed male, the over-representation of males on top in competitive settings is still alive and well, as can be seen in most hobbies that require lengthy periods of time in a dark basement… and recently, Pokémon Go.
The patriarchy is composed of millions of males with little to no social skills who will – while women, and more empathetic men socialize – eventually capitalize on their non-empathetic hobby. The concept of patriarchal oppression justifies discriminative practices towards the law abiding male employee, while the male prevalence in competitive settings extends to much more than paid work. For many things, including Pokémon Go, only males can find the motivation to disregard everything else to reach a high status.
So no, I wouldn’t blame the patriarchy. The fact that the top 1% of people that make it to the top are usually men, it doesn’t mean that there is a latent privilege in all men.
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