Best Buy encourages women to Wii by giving them… spa certificates?

I admit I’m a little flumoxed to read about this. According to DollyMix, Best Buy stores held a “Wii for Women” store event last Sunday in a handful of their outlets nationwide, encouraging women to “Relax, play games and register for a chance to win a Wii console.”

My own fatigue over “win a Wii!” promotions aside (maybe people would actually be able to find them on store shelves if corporations weren’t snapping them up in order to lure shoppers in), this actually bugs me.

Understanding that Best Buy may have had the best of intentions, they made asses of themselves here.

First of all, we have to take a step back and appreciate the levels of casual sexism that women frequently encounter in technology and gaming stores. Women (particularly older women) are frequently viewed by store employees as “easy marks” because they couldn’t possibly understand anything about technology in those dainty little heads of theirs. I’ve experienced this, my mom’s experienced this, women I’ve talked to casually have experienced this. Generally, in order to enter a store like Circuit City or Best Buy we have to go in with the intention of buying something specific because if we attempt to discuss a purchase with the sales staff, we will find ourselves dealing with condescending attitude, obvious misinformation, and a general attitude that we shouldn’t have dared to enter into such a place without a male escort. Now–this isn’t to implicate all electronics and game store employees who are not assholes; nor is this intended to create a blanket assertion of sexism where simple ignorance and incompetance could be the easier answer. But women, generally, are skeptical of these stores and have been given permission to stay the hell out over the years, and we know this.

So now, Best Buy is deciding that it’s bad for business to turn off 50+% of the population by fostering such an environment, which is good!

In order to atone for such casual mistreatment of women who might be interested in technology and videogames over these years, they have decided to hold an in-store event specifically for the ladies who might want to grab a Nintendo Wii. The usual charges of “reverse sexism” consigned to the usual dustbin of myopic squealings, we can address the problem of this promotion for what it is.

If Best Buy were really interested in repairing the damage to their customer base, is it really accomplished by creating a one day event where women are welcomed into the store? It’s like some bizarre medieval role-switching holiday, not a genuine corporate seachange. I’d much rather see Best Buy invest in sales staff training inservices on customer service and strong anti-sexism policies. I’d rather see more women on the sales floor, and maybe even some stands to draw the attention of women gamers and technophiles that weren’t just pink-cardboard discount bins filled with The Sims and Nintendogs. But as that is not likely to happen, let’s look at the prizes that Best Buy was offering for the women who came to their in-store event.

First prize for the drawing was a Nintendo Wii, which is a good!

…Except, that appears to be the only “game-related” thing that was up for grabs. Second prize was a Garmin GPS system (ok, it’s a techy-toy), but after that, you were more likely to receive a certificate to a spa.

If you’re a little unsettled by the spa certificates but trying to rationalize it with thoughts like “well, shit, who doesn’t like a good massage?” Don’t bother. Just… don’t. One of the bloggers at Destructoid went to a local event and it seemed like Best Buy was more interested in recycling obnoxious stereotypes about the delicate ladies and their need to be pampered more than it was in promoting women gaming.

First of all, Best Buy employees were giving out roses, chocolates, and fake electric candles to all the ladies in attendance. FAKE… ELECTRIC… CANDLES. Secondly, there were signs and cards everywhere telling me that playing the Wii was all about helping me “relax”. It was creepy.

Dude… wtf? I didn’t realize that gaming for women was all about lulling us into some bizarre comatose state, or acting as a surrogate for the romantic relationship that we would surely wither and die without. I thought it was about kicking back and having fun. In fact, when I see people play the Wii, about the last thing they’re doing is “relaxing.” In fact, sometime around heart 1.5 after your third unfortunately plumet into piping hot magma, the little vein in the forehead starts to become pronounced and pounding.

Perhaps as a result of this promotions bizarre faceplant in intention, Holmes describes only a 10% turnout of women to the event, and they appeared to be disinterested in gaming themselves, instead they were there to pick up the Wii for their kids (sons). I’m not really surprised, I can’t imagine that women who actually enjoy gaming would seriously consider attending such an event because it just seems designed to fail. But hey, at least now all of the antifeminists have more ammunition when they declare that women aren’t interested in gaming!