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April 17, 2006 |

Despite being raised by feminist intellectuals, I have tended to not write explicitly on gender issues. Feminist theory is central to my work, but that has always been a different issue to me than writing with a focus on girls or gender. For reasons both accidental, conscious, and probably subconscious, I’ve avoided this. I won’t get into the whys of this past trajectory, but this spring I seem destined to break my track record about not writing or speaking explicitly on gender issues. This week I’ll be speaking at the University of Texas Austin as part of their Gender and Technology speaker series. And in a few weeks I’ll be part of the Girls ‘n’ Games workshop and conference organized at UCLA by Yasmin Kafai, Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner and Jen Sun. The conference is a follow-up on a similar conference convened a decade ago at the height of the Girls Games movement, and which resulted in the book From Barbie to Mortal Kombat.

I’ve posted my position paper for the workshop, The Gender Dynamics of the Japanese Media Mix. It is still very rough, and is mostly a descriptive piece on how gender operates in Japanese media mix content for kids, and covers topics like cultures of cute and otaku, and ends with the examples of Yugioh and Hamtaro. It doesn’t take on any real theoretical topics in feminist or gender theory, but its my first effort to dip my toe into these waters. I do think the case of cute characters in Japanese gaming and media mix content is an interesting counter example to how gender representations more commonly operate in games. Compared to the US, it is much more acceptable in Japan for boys and for adults to consume cute character content, a tendency that has given birth to Pokemon, Digimon, and other cute characters that are oriented towards boys as well as girls. But please read the longer paper and give me feedback if these topics are of interest.