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November 12, 2000

Boys, Girls and Rules

Twice a month of a Saturday, I attend a meeting of "NOVA", a club for the appreciate of Japanese animation. It is a social club, and I meet several friends there and go out for a snack as well as watch anime. Some evenings we go to see a movie afterwards.

NOVA has two membership rates: $15 per year, or $1 each meeting. Some members find it more convenient to pay by the meeting, especially if they don't come to every meeting. Recently, we discovered that a video rental store which rents anime would be willing to give a discount to members of our club, but members would need to present a membership card. This is the first time we've seen the need for a membership card.

There was just one problem: how to handle membership cards for people who pay by the meeting. The officers initiated a discussion on the NOVA Mailing List, and a multitude of solutions were suggested. I liked my own: issue a card each meeting, good to the day prior to the next meeting. I even worked out the economics of printing up cards which would be discarded in only two to three weeks, versus the income of $1 per meeting, and showed that we would not operate at a loss.

Other members suggested cards that could be stamped with a date. There were objections that the merchant would find the multiple time stamps confusing. Still others suggested that only yearly members might be allowed to have a card. Some suggested that membership be charged only for access to the archives, or for renting from area merchants. The fine points of each alternative were debated in great detail, with occasional quotes from the club charter. As near as I can tell, all this discussion was driven by our male members.

Then one member, a woman, in fact the woman responsible for the NOVA Web page artwork, suggested that we just give a membership card to everybody, good for one year, whether they paid by the year or the meeting. My first response (which I didn't post, just spoke to my computer monitor) was, "that's not the point!" But of course, on reflection, it was just as good a solution as any other proposed. The difference was that it cut to the central issue, provided a workaround which dismissed the importance of total equity and observance of the rules, and worked.

I wish I could remember the source of this, and a search of the Internet yielded nothing. But I recall hearing this report, which summarized a study of the game-playing habits of boys and girls in semi-organized games on a playground. The study centered around conflict resolution by boys and girls.

The research concluded that whenever there was a conflict relating to the game, boys and girls reacted differently. Girls it seemed, preferred to resolve differences in a personal way which removed the source of the conflict. Boys, on the other hand, faced with conflict, preferred to argue about the rules "qbullet.smiley".

Over time, I've realized that this is totally on the mark.

Posted by dpwakefield at November 12, 2000 03:22 PM