Jennifer Rathwell: The Queen Of Screen


Who Controls The Remote In Your House?

Does the battle of the sexes still apply to the TV?

Woman's hand holding remote control

You don't get to call yourself "Queen of Screen" without wielding the remote with a sense of confidence, competence and complete command of the digital TV guide. There's no battle at my house - even while we're actively watching, the remote rests with me. But it occurred to me when talking about TV with friends that our house may be a minority, and a lot of modern advertising would have us believe the same thing: men are in charge of the remote. It's part of the whole gender division of which toys are for big boys. Televisions, and by extension, their remotes, are generally pitched as belonging to the one in the house who pees standing up.

There are many recent studies showing that despite public (and advertising) perception, women are now the chief decision-makers within the home (read one recent poll result here.) That would include buying and using the television, right? Yet the debate continues, in some homes vociferously, about who gets to use the magic stick when couples watch together.

It could be something to do with viewing tastes. I live in a house with a tall dude and two small ones, but none of them are sports fanatics or mega superhero devotees so we may just be the happy minority who can generally choose our TV together and live with it (there's also a lot of second screen use happening). But in a home where it's The Bachelor versus The Roosevelts or even which DVR show to choose together, I can see how things might get heated...and the one holding the remote is the winner. I know a lot of couples that solve this with his & hers screens, but we remain a staunch one-screen household and a lot of others are the same, whether it's for family or economic reasons. All right, we cheat a bit and have a little bedroom TV just for watching the late news, because one does get so sleepy.

Is it about just knowing how to use the darn thing and activate all of the infernal tech connections that are necessary just to watch something these days? Come on ladies, we plan an entire family schedule and juggle twenty-five other things. It can't be that hard. (Though relaying tech support to grandparents or the babysitter over the phone while at a restaurant does speak to a need for some serious universal operation agreements that would make everyone's life easier.)

Maybe it's the simple joy of holding something that allows you complete control over something, even if it's just a little button and some images on a screen. But don't get me started on the channel flipping. That drives me nuts - and it's usually when I'll politely suggest that I hold the remote.

Who holds the remote at your house?

Check out our tech gift guide (for guys) and note that it includes a programmable remote. And speaking of guys, these are our favourite TV dads.