Sexism in Mah Jongg – Time to Break the Glass Ceiling

Sexism in Mah Jongg – Time to Break the Glass Ceiling

Sexism in Mah Jongg – Time to break the glass ceiling

As we recall the struggles of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and beyond, we try to empathize with all who are held down, locked out and discriminated against.

In the case of Mah Jongg, I’m referring to men.

I’ve often asked myself why more men don’t play Mah Jongg, and the answer comes down to this: “Mah Jongg is a woman’s game.” We’re all well aware of this prevailing stereotype, born out of the game’s tremendous popularity among American Jewish women in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, it’s this stereotype which has held men back.

While women have largely steered clear of activities we tend to associate with men, the reasons are different: Women didn’t participate in certain activities because we weren’t wanted; we were excluded from so many things due to ideas promulgated by a male-dominated society. The idea of a woman as an Indy car driver was ludicrous. The thought of woman movie director was impossible. Even Augusta National Golf Club admitted women into their membership in 2012, an act that rustled more than a few uppity feathers.

But men not playing Mah Jongg? We’ve invited men into our ranks…haven’t we? Or maybe we, too, have acted a bit discriminatory, making men believe they’re not wanted, not accepted into this great activity that challenges us, stimulates and engages us. Do we pay even pay attention to men when they walk into the room during one of our Maj games? They quietly move from room to room, trying not to disturb this important activity that they have no understanding of. Have we become so good at Mah Jongg that men are simply intimidated by our astute understanding and artful performance of this game? If they did know the game, could they even compete with us?

While strong and independent women aren’t afraid to compete with men in a variety of activities, so too are strong and independent men learning Mah Jongg and enjoying the game alongside women. For the men who still think this is a woman’s game, we really should help them, support them, and encourage them to branch out, spread their wings and learn Mah Jongg.

In no way, shape or form am I suggesting that we give up our games with our sisters, daughters, female friends and confidants. I simply think we should invite our male friends, spouses or significant others to join us in this activity. After all, we know how it feels to be excluded from things. Let’s lower this invisible barrier by welcoming all who want to learn and enjoy Mah Jongg.

Let’s help men break through Mah Jongg’s glass ceiling.

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