I wanted to take a minute to share this, because it really speaks to something I had truly never considered before, although it makes perfect sense. One of the most interesting conversations that popped up on the article was about how many men are skeptical of women with hobbies that read "male" — depressingly, as people made lists of such hobbies, it seemed like the whole world of interests was covered. Music, games, movies, sports, brewing beer, computers, comics, history, certain authors, outdoor recreation....I think most of us have likely run into dudes who thought that those categories of things, broad as they are and as non-gendered as most of them are, belonged to them. A certain percentage of men take their hobbies incredibly seriously and cannot imagine women doing the same.
On this front, commenter elainebenes987 writes:
I'm going to go ahead and admit it: my boyfriend has more hobbies and interests than I do. He mountain bikes more, chats with his internet communities more, and listens to more music. A lot of the time I feel I honestly don't have time for hobbies. I could be combing through new music on Spotify every day, but I have other stuff that takes priority. When I consider the ratio of time we each spend 'getting ready' for our day (5 minutes compared to 55), the amount of time we spend on housekeeping (0 minutes versus a number a lot more than 0), and the amount of time we spend preparing dinners together (2 minutes versus hours), it becomes pretty damn clear to me why (some) men would have more hobbies and interests peppered throughout their day than (some) women. Not speaking at all about women being able to be valid music critics (because, duh). And of course not saying that all women do more chores/cooking than all men. Just saying in my own life as well as observations of others, I find the root cause of this hobby discrepancy pretty obvious.
(Emphasis mine.) I have never heard anyone account for the relationship between leisure and labor in this exact way, but it's a striking reminder that leisure time and "hobbies" have just as much to do with gendered expectations as anything else. When we talk about the second shift, about who performs domestic labor, about work that women are taught to see as an obligation and men are taught see as an option, we are also talking about women's ability to pursue their own interests and have time to themselves.
There are, of course, tons of other factors. There are lots and lots of women who are rabid-bit fans about certain things, and their invisibility and/or tendency to get overlooked is a massive problem. Many female fans/hobbyists are certainly devoted, but "hidden" in the ranks, or less visible (I think, for example, of the fact that so few male gamers believe me when I tell them the percentage of gamers who are female). There are expectations about what men and women "should" be into. As the commenter notes, this observation has nothing to do with actual ability or interest among women. Further, I don't mean to present this as a generalization or a universal truth.
All I'm saying, and what I think this commenter is getting at, is: when we look at various populations of high-intensity hobbyists, nerds, fans, etc., and we wonder why more women aren't in their ranks, perhaps we have to look further than the most obvious sexist exclusion in certain subcultures — maybe there are other, more insidious reasons, that run deep in the broader culture.