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Kings or Captives?
I received an invitation for my thirteen-year-old daughter to attend a seminar in the fall, focusing on the career options available for young woman. My excitement welled at the thought of this opportunity for her to explore different career options, understand the schooling necessary, learn about the pay scales, and even speak to women volunteers representing some of the fields. The seminars’ focus was on Science, a field that has been historically dominated by men. I was hurrying down the hall to tell my daughter the exciting news when my rubber-nubbed fuzzy socks squeaked to a stop in front of the computer room.
My excitement deflated as I let out an audible sigh. There sat my twelve-year-old son,
...in a catatonic stupor, stare-fixed, fingers moving at the speed of light.
A trance so gripping that it had held him there all summer, with the exception of forced reprieves for food, sleep, and chores. The game showed no signs of releasing its young prey. And although I could force his body to rejoin reality, his mind remained in cyber-space.
My husband fell victim to the game quite often, as well. He referred to his lapse as his “cave-time”. A reference to an idea from the popular book, Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships by John Grey. Loosely translated, the idea is that Men need time to retreat from the world, to escape and relax which enables them to deal with the stress of life more effectively. I find this behavior reasonable, and it seems to be the norm in my circle of married friends.
The game is not always the same, but the time spent playing and attitude toward it generally is.
The wives have alternate ways of coping. We get together once a month for margarita and fajita parties, and we visit on the phone. This is in addition to the birthday parties and the children’s functions where we try to debrief each other on life’s latest challenges. As a rule, our husbands contribute far more to the household chores and parenting than our fathers or grandfathers did. They all work outside the home as well. A shift is evident. In my lifetime women have gained real access in the workforce, politics, education, and the sciences. In my group, the wives have as much, or sometimes more, education than their husbands. We are more active in the community, more aware of social and current events, and look to the future- eager to 'have it all' just as our mothers promised us.
Perhaps this is just a suburban trend. But what if it's not? As more and more women find their voice and join together in the cacophony of sisterhood and push their way forward to claim their rightful place in the world, will the men simple retreat further into the dark recesses of their primal cave? That cave, which by a twist of fate, or a strange gateway through the space-time continuum, is now cyber-space. A place where dragons live and need to be slayed, where terrorists, aliens, and zombies threaten, and our men must fight and defend what is good and right. A place where they can conquer, and reign supreme, once again.