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February 16, 2007

Art thou Girl, or art thou Boy?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:45 AM * 129 comments

The never-ending quest to figure out what all this “gender” stuff is about continues. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the question has been answered!

The Gender Genie allows you to paste in a 500-word block of text, choose whether your sample is fiction, non-fiction, or a blog entry, and click … voila! The true gender of the writer is revealed.

Let’s see … aside from figuring out how a blog entry is different from fiction or non-fiction … I’ve spent some time pasting in bits of prose (including entries from This Very Blog). Hilarity ensues.

The Petit Maître. A Poem
1749
By a Lady.

I.
Tell me, gentle hob’dehoy!
Art thou Girl, or art thou Boy?
Art thou Man, or art thou Ape;
For thy Gesture and thy Shape,
And thy Features and thy Dress,
Such contraries do express:
I stand amaz’d, and at a Loss to know,
To what new Species thou thy Form dost owe?

II.
By thy Hair comb’d up behind,
Thou should’st be of Womankind:
But that damn’d forbidding Face,
Does the charming Sex disgrace;
Man, or Woman, thou art neither;
But a blot, a shame to either:
Nor dare to Brutehood, even to make Pretence;
For Brutes themselves, shew greater Signs of Sense.

III
By thy Jaws all lank and thin;
By that forc’d unmeaning grin:
Thou appear’st to human Eyes,
Likesome Ape of monst’rous Size;
Yet an Ape thou can’s not be,
Apes are more Adroit than thee;
Thy Odditties so much my Mind perplex,
I neither can define thy Kind or Sex.

IV.
Art thou Substance, art thou Shade?
That thus monst’rously array’d,
Walking forth in open Day,
Dost our Senses quite dismay?
Unghastly yet, thou only can’st provoke,
Our Rage, our Detestation, and our Joke.

V.
If thou art a Man, forbear
Thus, this motly Garb to wear;
Do not Reason thus displace,
Do not Man-hood thus disgrace;
But thy Sex by Dress impart,
And appear like what thou art:
Like what thou art, said I, pray pardon me;
I mean, appear like what thou ought’st to be.

Comments on Art thou Girl, or art thou Boy?:
#1 ::: Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:34 AM:

I tried Gender Genie with two writings of mine. The first, Bowling in the French Alps is an account I wrote entirely by myself of a ski trip with friends to the French Alps. My Gender Genie score was Female Score: 1363, Male Score: 1693. It correctly guessed I was male.

I then tried Gender Genie with a piece that was interactive in nature, The Vulcan Ambassador Chuck E-mails. This time the Genie score was Female Score: 3930, Male Score: 3745. Adding at least one identified female correspondent conceivably warped things a bit.

Thanks for pointing out this website. It provided a few minutes of entertainment.

#2 ::: Cynthia ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:46 AM:

Okay, I've officially wasted too much time playing with this. 9/10 of the time, I'm obviously male, regardless of whether I've pasted in fiction or non-fiction samples.

When I first started writing professionally, one of my editors told me (and he intended it as his highest praise, believe me) that I write like a man. All this time I thought he was just full of beans, but now the internet is confirming his opinion.

Apparently men write a lot of romances! And ghost write books on the bridal industry.

#3 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Cynthia@2: And ghost write books on the bridal industry.

They don't have to. They could use pseudonyms. DGR

Do most people really define other people primarily by sex and/or gender? I don't, and I struggle to understand why it seems so important to know which slot to put people into. (Although perhaps I've just phrased that in a way that answers my question.)

#4 ::: Cynthia ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Aconite @ #3: They don't have to. They could use pseudonyms.

But I'm glad they do, or I'd be out of work!

*Scurries back to my lace-lined trenches*

#5 ::: Bill Altreuter ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Interestingly, it thinks my blog stuff is female, but the pseudonymous style column I write gets male grades. I guess that's a good thing-- the column isn't supposed to sound like me-- but I feel kinda weird about it.

#6 ::: julie ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Well, that was interesting. I tried several fiction and non-fiction passages. It guessed correctly 50% of the time on the fiction. The newspaper column I wrote a little over eighteen years ago announcing my pregnancy? Definitely male.

#7 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:25 AM:

Hah! I guess I'm doing something right.

I have a close-3p short story in progress that alternates following between a male and a female. I tested 2 passages from each. The male-following ones came up male, and the female-following came up female.

Sure, it's all BS, but it's still reassuring :o)

#8 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Huh. Evidently I'm male. That'll surprise Mom a little. I mean, what with all the taffeta...

I do a lot of male-oriented activities, grew up a definite tomboy if you discount mode of dress, but I didn't figure I wrote like a man.

#9 ::: someone ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Jon: why would it be reassuring if it's wrong much of the time?

#10 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:14 AM:

I haven't done a lot of experiments, but has anyone else noticed it getting female writers wrong more than male?

#11 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:14 AM:

cool. I'm a guy. Nice to get that sorted out.

;)

#12 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Jon: why would it be reassuring if it's wrong much of the time?

I assume it's because he wants the POV of the character to sound convincing. So, if he's writing like a man for the man's POV and like a woman for the woman's POV, that's a good thing.

#13 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:19 AM:

It consistently identifies passages from one story I'm working on as female. However, it consistently identifies passages from a different story I'm working on as male.

I'm sure this means something...

#14 ::: Andrea ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:25 AM:

What do you know. I'm a man. Again.

(I say "again" because I always come up male on these internet test thingies. I'm pretty sure I'm female, though--unless sudden advances in biology now allow men to bear children.)

#15 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:31 AM:

The first 500 words of the story I started last weekend: male.

The agrammatical faux Nigerian spam I sent out to friends'n'family last night pimping my upcoming radio show: female.

The auction description about which I received a complimentary e-mail ("thanks for livening up eBay!"): the Gender Genie is completely confounded.

Interesting that "with" and "you" are considered markers of female writing, while "the" and apparently all prepositions are indicators of maleness. And apparently "I" belongs to both/neither sex. Self-absorption knows no gender...

#16 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:33 AM:

'zackly, Hama. When I write close-third, I try to disappear into the characters' flow, using the words and phrases and idioms they apply to the world. In its own quasi-nonsensical way, this validates what I'm doing.

#17 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:34 AM:

I'm fighting the urge to plug in excerpts from General J.C. Christian's oeuvre at
Jesus' General ("An 11 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender")

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:41 AM:

My Second-Person Stream-of-Consciousness story "Catriona": Female Score: 7527 Male Score: 5874

The first chapter of my Third-Person Limited POV Novel-in-Progress (with a female (maybe) POV character): Female Score: 4013 Male Score: 3190

Chapter Two of the same work: Female Score: 2089 Male Score: 1277

Brief excerpt from some porn I wrote for a friend: Female Score: 1365 Male Score: 1005

Short-short mood piece "The Age of Mentor": Female Score: 903 Male Score: 954

Brief essay "On Not Being a F***tard": Female Score: 898 Male Score: 833

Longer essay "A Painless Introduction to Poetics": Female Score: 8675 Male Score: 8032

Letter to a friend suggesting ways to be helpful and understanding to those of us with ADHD: Female Score: 1779 Male Score: 1396

Personal experience blog entry "Adventures in Anaphylaxis": Female Score: 1402 Male Score: 1900

Analysis: I am male (though this site made me look down a couple of times to be sure). It was correct only twice, both in relatively brief pieces. In general the non-fiction scores were closer than the fiction scores.

What this means to me: I'm not at all surprised that I write more like a woman; most of my favorite writers are women (Bujold, Cherryh, et al...but also Delany). For similar reasons I'm not surprised that my fiction is more "female" than my non-fiction. My "Tannen Tells" are more female than male (I remember thinking "THAT's why I have such trouble in relationships!").

I might look more closely at this site, actually. Perhaps I'll try to write a fiction piece that comes out dead-even, and see how that affects my prose style!

#19 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 11:11 AM:

I've got too much reading on my plate to test the site (with my "neutral" first name, I do get a lot of junk mail addressed to "Mr.", not to mention spam utterly alien to my tastes), but it seems odd that the choice is either/or -- don't they know there are more than two genders?

Thursday's "Ugly Betty" got into some interesting gender issues (only sometimes with a grin).

#20 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 11:22 AM:

When I did the Gender Genie quite a while back I was judged to be male.

#21 ::: spiralsheep ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 11:53 AM:

I was ranting about this on my lj (my) last night.

Thinking about it for five seconds brings the realisation that they're prioritising the supposed effect of gender over and above the effects of national differences, dialect differences, differences in the systems used to teach English composition, differences in people's levels of education, whether people regularly use English professionally or not, whether people are native speakers or second/third language speakers AND the effect of their first language on their English constructions, plus, of course, the effects of dyslexia etc.

God forbid I might assume I have more in common with a bloke I went to school with and have shared the same culture with my whole life than, for example, an 85 year old woman from Delhi.

#22 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:01 PM:

I assumed that some of my stuff (The Stone War and The Cutting Edge) would be judged male and some (Point of Honour and Petty Treason) female, but according to the Genie I am male across the board. Imagine how surprised Danny will be.

#23 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:10 PM:

I'll just have to stop at 499 and keep them guessing.

Back around 1980, I drew a gag postcard showing a couple of deadheads shrugging as a mohawked punk couple goes past. "THESE days, you CAN'T tell the BOYS from the GIRLS!"

#24 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Nearly perfect split from a half dozen short stories and novel excerpts. First person or third person didn't matter. Solidly male for non-fiction blog posts. What a fun toy.

http://www.bookblog.net/gender/genie.html

#25 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Oops. Pasted the wrong address in there. Should have been:

http://www.kellymccullough.com/mail.html

#26 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:22 PM:

I am invariably male in internet tests of any kind, be it prose style or the brain test on the BBC site.

#27 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Faren Miller @19 - With an entirely unambiguous first name, I still get penis enlargement spam.

#28 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Apparently I write quite masculinely. So does my ex-wife. So does one of my other close female friends. I was really starting to think this thing was biased to guess male...until one of my male friends tested as female.

G'fig.

#29 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Anne Sheller@27: With an entirely unambiguous first name, I still get penis enlargement spam.

It promises to completely change my life, which I believe.

#30 ::: Elf Sternberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:48 PM:

As I pointed out four years ago, when when I got my hands on the original paper I found that it worked only for fiction and is only 78% accurate anyway. For non-fiction documents, the raw algorithm is no better than chance. You can build a "trained" version of the algorithm, in which case it does better, but it maxed out at 82.6% accuracy.

#31 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:51 PM:

I figured out one use for it. I ran a Sherlock Holmes fanfic of mine through it, and it did show up as male (I'm female.) So in the quest to speak in Conan Doyle's voice (or Dr. Watson's, if you prefer) at least I got one parameter right.

#32 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:01 PM:

I wonder what it would do with book jacket copy?

#33 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Huh.
I poured in the first few pages (1864 words) of Tiptree’s The Women Men Don’t See, and the Gender Genie reported that there was something "ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing":

Female Score: 2031
Male Score: 2983

#34 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:08 PM:

VI.
Chance-met in Soho, drinking Cola.
I was asked to dance; her name was Lola.
I admit my physique is not too fine,
But her embrace, it nearly broke my spine.
Now, I'd left home but a week before
And I'd never kiss'd a woman before;
Lola smil'd and took up my hand
Said "Dear boy, I'll make thee a man."

#35 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:11 PM:

I suspect that much radical feminist academic prose turns out to be "male," as does most academic prose.

I consider this about as useful as the celebrity-face-recognition bot (upload a photo of your face and it matches you with celebrities). Out of six trials, I was matched with Luciano Pavarotti, even though I'm not 70 years old, fat, or bearded, and I can't sing a note.

#36 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Bob #33 --

Yeah, I just did Tiptree, too. "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" was written by a man.

My story notes for the Tiptree Award Anthology 3, though, were written by a woman.

Hmm. What Tiptree Award stories do I have on my computer here at work?

Vonda N. McIntyre -- female
Carol Emshmiller -- female
Geoff Ryman -- mildly female
Salman Rushdie -- male
Raphael Carter - 50/50

#37 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 01:54 PM:

I ran some of my profic through it a while back, and it was convinced I'm male. However, in this it's doing just as well as my readers -- to my slashfannish astonishment, readers and reviewers of my pro erotic romance mostly assumed that I was male. Some of them were still assuming this at least a year after I'd done the "No, really, I'm a straight woman who likes reading/writing about two guys" thing.

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Has anybody tried running Nancy Drew thru this? And what about Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys?

#39 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Scored all-male, except for a short livejournal post that might have been less than 500 words anyway.

Including one long interview with a woman, which I guess I technically wrote, but in which most of the WORDS were of female origin.

#40 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Short-short story 1 (written from male POV, more child-like in parts):

Words: 1507
Female Score: 1841
Male Score: 1788
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

Story fragment 2 (written from female POV):

Words: 561
Female Score: 545
Male Score: 708
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

A weird monologue I wrote (and later did as a performance-art piece):

Words: 854
Female Score: 798
Male Score: 1464
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Conclusion - totally useless!

#41 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Amusing. It thinks I write like a girl when I'm writing in the point of view of a female character. And it thinks I write like a testosterone-fueled phallosaur when I'm not.

Okay, that was a fun diversion.

#42 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Back around 1980, I drew a gag postcard showing a couple of deadheads shrugging as a mohawked punk couple goes past. "THESE days, you CAN'T tell the BOYS from the GIRLS!"

Back around 1996, I was actually in a car with a guy with the Hippy Lasso (ponytail+bald spot) when he made a comment about a girl with a mohawk.

I said "The first girl I ever dated had a mohawk..."

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:49 PM:

I put in my blog's entry about last week's rescue of a cat in a tree.

Female Score: 80
Male Score: 161

I guess I don't have to worry too much if I decide I want to watch Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda.

#44 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:51 PM:

Anne #27: I'm afraid your name isn't absolutely unambiguous!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Montmorency

#45 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 02:56 PM:

I would be remiss in not mentioning Elizabeth Bear's excellent This Tragic Glass, which takes as its premise a Gender Genie that actually works.

#46 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 03:03 PM:

By a score of 11168 to 11004 I'm female. By this scoring, I'm nearly gender neutral which doesn't seem right to me. Does this mean I'm some sort of "gender neutral" writer? Or maybe it explains why I can't find my glasses in the morning. Isn't forgetfulness a male trait?

Perhaps it explains the strange ballances in my life. I lose my keys, but I ask for directions. I don't complain about the seat being up, but I hate a messy kitchen.

Perhaps it's the internet's way of saying, "Rachael, you're not in Kansas any more."

#47 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Beth:

I plugged in 3 different pieces of jacket copy: a horror novel, a fantasy, and a mystery. The horror and fantasy stuff was rated male; the mystery female.

#48 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 03:38 PM:

I don't complain about the seat being up, but I hate a messy kitchen.

At the risk of repeating myself on here: when my girlfriend and I moved in, she declared that she wasn't going to be one of the women in the stand-up routines that insisted that the toilet seat be down.

A couple of years later, she woke me up at 3 AM and said "The toilet seat? I was wrong."

#49 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Sandy B. writes: "A couple of years later, she woke me up at 3 AM and said..."

You think that's bad? I'm the annoying housemate who complains about people leaving up the toilet lid, which is a failing I've yet to correlate with any particular sex.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Bill Altreuter (5):

"Interestingly, it thinks my blog stuff is female, but the pseudonymous style column I write gets male grades. I guess that's a good thing -- the column isn't supposed to sound like me -- but I feel kinda weird about it."
Try not to feel too weird. The Gender Genie says I'm male when I report things, female when I explain them.

#51 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 05:49 PM:

As usual, I'm male. Internet thingies always say I'm male.

#52 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Well, that was fun. I pasted in two bits from two different novels. First score: 272 female, 696 male. Second score: 810 female, 810 male. Then I pasted in some non-fiction stuff. Score: 1156 female; 1722 male.

(Shrugs.)

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 06:21 PM:

It thinks most of my blog posts were written by a man. (Because 'Mary Aileen' is such a masculine name.) My review of David Weber's latest, however, was written by a woman.

Uh-huh.

#54 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 06:24 PM:

I didn't mean to turn this into a discussion of "potty habbits," but I have to reply to this:

"You think that's bad? I'm the annoying housemate who complains about people leaving up the toilet lid, which is a failing I've yet to correlate with any particular sex."

I clean my toilet. If your potty is clean, why close the lid? In our house one gets the Ladies' Parade at the bathroom door. A closed lid courts disaster if you have small children.

Oh, and I've had the experience of having the seat up and sitting on the cold rim at night. I still don't complain about the seat being up. I just learned to check ... or turn on the lights!

I ran my oldest daughter's history essay through the male/female meter. She's a boy. Imagine my surprise.

#55 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 06:33 PM:

My two lastest blog entries over at deepgenre.com :

#1
Words: 639
Female Score: 1036
Male Score: 831

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

#2
Words: 656
Female Score: 1142
Male Score: 1385

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

The Gender Genie seems to be telling me I'm androgynous. If you give it a passage with a perfect 50/50 split, what answer does it give?

#56 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 07:32 PM:

The device seems to be more useful in judging my mood and state of awakeness than my gender.

#57 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Rachael de Vienne@54: If your potty is clean, why close the lid?

Do you really want to know? If not, read no further.

It's because when you flush, some of the liquid in the toilet aerosolizes and disperses throughout the room. And settles on things, like the counter, your toothbrush, and the hand towel. You breathe it, too. That is sufficiently distasteful for me to keep the lid down.

#58 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:20 PM:

Rachael de Vienne@54: If your potty is clean, why close the lid?

It's our habit here too. It started when we had a large dog - dogs will preferentially drink from the toilet bowl, and do you really want them licking your face and hands after that? Then there's the flush spreading the goodness around as Aconite said - thinking about that was enough to keep the habit.

As to difficulty, it has worked just fine here with a 5 year old boy, who has been lifting the lid and seat ever since he learned to pee standing up at age 3. It's a habit; we rationalize the habits we have and not the ones we don't.

#60 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:28 PM:

Rachael @54: If your potty is clean, why close the lid?

So the cat does not fall in.

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 08:59 PM:

I tried a passage from a piece that's currently making the rounds of academic publishers, and it identified me as clearly male. I'm impressed.

#63 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Sandy B. @48: toilet seat=non-negotiable.

All persons, of whatever gender or persuasion, must return the toilet seat to its non-upright, locked position. No seat up, no lid up, no nothin' up. Upwards-oriented toilet seats are just plain gross.

That way, everyone suffers equally. And no airborne germs are conveyed to local toothbrushes. And life goes on, tra la.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Interesting... I ran the prologue from a space opera written by my wife, and published by a romance collection, and this is what she got:

Female Score: 2935
Male Score: 2805

Well, she did always prefer playing with action figures.

#65 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 09:35 PM:

All of the flap copy I've plugged in is tagged as male. Interesting.

#66 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:19 PM:

It thinks I'm male too...stupid genie!

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 10:34 PM:

May @ 66... Maybe that genie is powered by Barbara Eden.

#68 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 12:11 AM:

I put eight passages of my blog in, all of them long (since it says it works better when the entries are longer than 500 words).

I'm neuter.

Four of them were female, four of them were male.

None of them were wishy-washy on the ratios. Each was decisively one, or the other.

#69 ::: Ragnell ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 12:21 AM:

I tried 6 livejournal posts. It guessed 3 female, 3 male.

Then (because some people I know are getting different results from their livejournal than from their less personal blog) I tried 6 posts from my comics blog. Again, it guessed 3 female, 3 male.

#70 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 12:47 AM:

I have no problem with "seat down". She tried "Seat up" and there was a problem... so "seat down" it is.

As far as aerosolized yukkitude... Your kitchen has more germs, your keyboard probably has more germs, and gawd forbid you use a public phone or something.

I subcontract all this stress to my immune system. So far it's worked out.

#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 01:24 AM:

I entered a bunch of passages from my book reviews page.

A couple came out female, most were male.

* * *
#58: "dogs will preferentially drink from the toilet bowl"

When I run the water for my morning shower, I collect the water in a clean litter basket and leave it by the toilet. The dog drinks from that; what's leftover gets used to flush the toilet in the evening.

A few months back, I had to go to the office at about four in the morning to work on an emergency service escalation. I brought the dog, who likes my cow-orkers and vice-versa.

I stopped in the mens' room on the way out. It had side-by-side urinals, freshly scrubbed by the cleaning crew. I noticed, as I was using one, that Kira was drinking out of the other. It was at perfect drinking height. I was too buy laughing to correct her. Anyway, I can't imagine it will come up very often.

#72 ::: Kylni ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Ran quite a few pieces of my fanfiction, they all came out decidedly male. Was thinking, like several people above, "oh, well, I always come out male on these things."

Then I realized everything I'd stuck in was either slash fic or otherwise from a male PoV, so I stuck in a few pieces from a female PoV, and they all came out definitely female. Which is interesting, since I really don't notice my voice being that much different between them.

My blog posts, on the other hand, go both ways, seemingly based on my mood. *shrug* I may have to go with the "works much better for fiction than non" thing... except that I don't think PoV was exactly what they were going for?

#73 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 05:50 AM:

I ended up male, as usual, whether it was my non-fiction (gender studies) or blog entries on feminism. I suppose this might explain why I get all that spam about chest enlargements, because clearly that would make it more obvious I'm a girl...

#74 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 06:38 AM:

"Nay! We are but men!"

(was my immediate response to the title, without having read the post itself. Am I alone in this?)

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 08:13 AM:

Paul @ 74... "Nay! We are but men!"

Are we not men?
We are Devo.

#76 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 08:41 AM:

SandyB@70: As far as aerosolized yukkitude... Your kitchen has more germs, your keyboard probably has more germs, and gawd forbid you use a public phone or something.

Yes, I've heard this argument. My response is, "So, you don't bother cleaning your cutting board or your dishes, since there are germs all over anyway?"

Some germs are nastier than others, and minimizing the number of nasty germs your immune system has to deal with just seems sensible. YMMV. If you want to leave your toilet lid up, I don't care. But I put mine down.

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Aconite... The MythBusters showed that there are less germs in a dog's mouth than on a toilet seat, at least in their building's bathroom. (Since it's used by everybody, I wonder which way they have the toilet paper hanging.)

#78 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 11:54 AM:

#57 etc:
Sorry to take the thread further in this direction, but there are studies showing that having the "seat-down" when you flush increases the aerosolizing of germs into the room (higher air velocities...).

#79 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 05:35 PM:

A somewhat fun result.

I decided to send the Gender Genie several of my Buffy fanfic stories. Most of them were scored as having a male author.

There were two exceptions that were scored as having a female author. Both stories were supposed to illustrate the state of mind and the thoughts of a specific male character. And a third story that did the same for a different male character was scored male but by a narrower margin than most of the stories.

And two stories intended to illustrate the state of mind and the thoughts of two female characters both were scored as male.

So when I try to write "male" it comes out "female" and vice versa...

#80 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Having tried a piece of academic prose, I tried a villanelle I'd written and came out female. I am astonished.

#81 ::: Jonathan Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Every published piece I've written has come out "female" by Genre Genie standards. This software is as non-predictive as an OKCupid quiz with five questions.

If I were back in graduate school, I would now have people trying to explain to me how I and my writing are "feminized." Feh.

#82 ::: Jonathan Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Whoops... that should be "Gender Genie." The "Genre Genie" would tell me that my non-fiction articles are in fact slashfic.

#83 ::: Greta Christina ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Weird.

Based on a few semi-random samplings (two samples from each of their three categories), my fiction is decidedly female, my non-fiction is decidedly female... and my blog entries are decidedly male.

But then, the BBC told me I have a male brain.

My conclusion? Pop culture pseudo-science about gender is, for the most part, entertaining bullshit.

P.S. I also don't understand why "blog entry" is a different category. But when I re-submitted my blog entries as non-fiction, they still came up as male.

#84 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 06:25 AM:

Fragano Ledgister@80: Having tried a piece of academic prose, I tried a villanelle I'd written and came out female. I am astonished.

Well, if you wish to avoid confusion, you could go around with your identifying bits exposed so that people can more easily make the determination.

#85 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Aconite #84: I should certainly follow the example you set. ;)

#86 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 11:53 AM:

Tried it with about ten different bits of fanfic I've written, from a variety of viewpoints and now I know I write like a girl. Always.

Which is correct, but surprised me since I usually end up being told I'm a boy by internet tests.

#87 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 12:34 PM:

I wonder why "above" is a male word but "where" is a female word?

#88 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 12:53 PM:

And of course, yesterday I was at an online romance chat group, and yet another reader referred to me as "he". I did not know when I started writing profic that my nickname is so strongly male-only in the US.

#89 ::: Samuel Tinianow ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 05:24 PM:

I write female fiction and male nonfiction. Which is almost interesting.

#90 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 06:21 PM:

The only times I come out female are when I include segments of fiction with female characters present (excluding first person narrators). The same narrators in scenes with men measure as male, and not closely.

Because she and her as well as me and myself are "female" (I may have the exact 2 words denoting the presence of third-person female characters wrong).

But "he" and "his" aren't male, leaving the assumption that women and men talk about men equally. Are they suggesting only women ever talk about women?

If they removed "She" as a word women chiefly use, I might think more of it.

Of course, it should also start observing my actual gender. Let's just say there's *no mistaking* my figure.

#91 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Oh, and that includes blog entries. If anything, my blog entries are more masculine than my fiction.

#92 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Hmmmm.

Gender is not actually the same thing as sex. It is possible to have a male brain, with masculine abilities and interests and reactions to things, while also having female body parts. And vice versa: a female brain with feminine abilities, interests, and reactions, while also having male body parts. Sometimes you can't just check your pants to find the answer.

Stuff that's working right is seamless and invisible and looks easy. It's only when something is wrong, or broken, or unfinished, that the something gets noticed.

Are there real, significant differences between genders? Do they matter? Ask a transperson and they will tell you yes.

Transgender 101 here

#93 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Fiction that I attempted to write from a male POV was identified as female. Blog posts were identified as female. I'm glad to be consistent.

The BBC told me I had a female brain, although not by much. I took it personally because their definition of "female" meant "not good at math and science" and, well, that's what I'm trying to make a career in.

I find it interesting how disappointed I am when these things tell me "Yup, female female female." I mean, I identify as female. But I seem to associate "female" with "lower status" and "less respected." I'd also like to feel a little less boxed in by my gender, I guess -- not to be so obvious to a stupid internet algorithm, to break stereotypes a little more, to not be so easily dismissed.

MWT @92 -- I'm in the middle of reading Sex Changes and otherwise trying to educate myself about trans issues. I'm afraid I found that website a bit difficult to use, though -- it was hard to find things. Do you know of an online introduction that presents things in a slightly more organized fashion?

#94 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 10:46 PM:

RE: Toilet sets/lids being up.

You can tall a Murray-Bahm has been at your house if the seat is closed. When Jim and I got our first cat, she nearly drowned in the toilet because she was a bitty kitten and when we found her she had nearly given up.

Jim was the one who made the determination that we should just leave it all down unless it's being used. And so mote it be. It causes some puzzlement from our friends when we're visiting but it's a good habit. Plus I do not EVER want an animal of mine drinking from that because all my cats get really close/nuzzly with us and, well, urk.

#95 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Paula 94: I have a friend who lost one of his not-exactly-pet-more-houseguest sugar gliders that same way.

I have no pets, but if I did I'd take a Sharpie™ and write "PUT ME DOWN" on the bottom of the toilet lid.

#96 ::: Lisa Hirsch ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Hilariously, three blog postings and a chunk of an apazine all turned up firmly male. I really am not much of a girl!

#97 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2007, 11:29 PM:

My academic prose is apparently masculine. My instructional writing is also masculine. My fiction has a bet each way. But then, I do use the word "the" a lot. And prepositions, which the test seems to also think are masculine (making a gross generalisation from spatial-intelligence cliches?).

Pshaw.

#98 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 12:40 AM:

MWT: That's true: Sex is not gender. But in my case, I'm feminine in more ways than figure, and there's no doubt about it, mind or body. Though I don't think it would be a stretch to say I'm in touch with my masculine side, I shouldn't come across as male in my writing; or, if I do, only on those times I'm writing male characters.

Aside: I feel uncomfortable self-identifying as "a woman", though I self-identify, as above, as "Female, definitely." The word woman is just wrong; nothing about its etymology, real or supposed, and definitely not about its spelling. I'm too old for "girl", though I'll use it. I finally settled on "Lady" in spite of a lack of manners, as the closest I'd get to describing my femaleness. And "Wife", now I am one -- and a vague recollection that at one point it didn't mean attached to a spouse, it just meant woman.

#99 ::: MFB ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 06:09 AM:

Interesting. My wife comes out as twice as male as I am.

#100 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 06:41 AM:

Interesting. Checking my blog writing, I'm male 3 times out of 5. The two "feminine" posts were very skewed towards female, 850 female vs 660 for male. The male posts were similarly skewed in 2 of the posts, nearly even on the third one.

Maybe I'm just confused...

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 08:10 AM:

(Meanwhile, during a meeting of the People's Front of Judea...)

JUDITH: I do feel, Reg, that any Anti-Imperialist group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interests within its power-base.
REG: Agreed. Francis?
FRANCIS: Yeah. I think Judith's point of view is very valid, Reg, provided the Movement never forgets that it is the inalienable right of every man--
STAN: Or woman.
FRANCIS: Or woman... to rid himself--
STAN: Or herself.
FRANCIS: Or herself.
REG: Agreed.
FRANCIS: Thank you, brother.
STAN: Or sister.
FRANCIS: Or sister. Where was I?
REG: I think you'd finished.
FRANCIS: Oh. Right.
REG: Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man--
STAN: Or woman.
REG: Why don't you shut up about women, Stan. You're putting us off.
STAN: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.
FRANCIS: Why are you always on about women, Stan?
STAN: I want to be one.
REG: What?
STAN: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me 'Loretta'.
REG: What?!
LORETTA: It's my right as a man.

#102 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 09:52 AM:

It seems that I am a woman when I write introductions and a man when I write instructional stuff.

101: Why do you want to be Loretta, Serge?

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Paul @ 102... Oh, I'm quite happy being Serge. It's just that the whole sexual-identity subject kept reminding me of that exchange from Monty Python's Life of Brian. It also reminds me of a young co-worker back in 1989 who, based on my behavior, could not make heads or tails of where my interests point - until I told him how much I liked Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jinny.

#104 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 07:51 PM:

@#93 Caroline: here's a slightly more direct page to her Gender Dysphoria 101 - it's the first one I read and therefore the one I tend to refer people to. There are others, but I've not found any that were quite as illuminating as that one. (And alas, now that I go back and look for the other ones I used to know, the links all seem to be broken.) Other than that, the best thing to do is to ask some real transpeople about their experiences. The main point to remember there is that you use the pronoun that they ask you to use, regardless of their actual physical appearance.

About the BBC test - the flip side of looking at it as "women are bad at math and science" is that "men can't multitask worth crap, and are terrible at remembering the locations of each specific thing in a big disorganized mass of things" (the memory test with the cartoon household objects where some got switched in the second set; all I had to do was read the instructions and I already knew I was screwed). I've been noticing this firsthand in the past several months of working at a busy Chinese takeout, where the manager is female and expected me to have all of the same abilities to match up people's faces with their food orders (without looking at the tickets), and remember whose tickets belong to whom, and in what order they were placed there, even though we just tack them up with magnets in random order. She's also amazing for her ability to remember who ordered what without writing anything down (sometimes it gets busy enough in there that she doesn't have time), and in matching them to their phone numbers. After several massive screwups on my part, she's finally starting to realize why I do things the way I do, and not the way she does them, and no longer complains about it. At some point soon I'll probably write up a lengthy diatribe of my gender clash experiences on that front.

#105 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Oh wait. I do know one other good link. Venus Envy isn't an intro text per se, it's a cartoon about a teen MTF that's drawn by an MTF, and it's also very enlightening.

Also, just found this 101 intro and an FTM site for the opposite perspective from Jennifer's primarily MTF site.

#106 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 10:14 PM:

MWT, if we go by that, those of us with mixed brain dominance must be hermaphrodites.

#107 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Serge @ 103: I'm sorry but the answer we were looking for was "I want to have babies." (I saw a Python quote and ran with it... I think it's an OCD thing.)

#108 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 12:17 AM:

Marilee - actually that would be "androgyne." "Hermaphrodite" would refer to the physical sex organs, not the gender of the brain.

Sex is determined by genes (presence of XX or XY chromosomes). Brain gender (wiring for abilities, behavior, etc.) is determined by hormones during fetal development. Lots of things can go wrong during fetal development. If the sex organs get screwed up, you end up with intersex individuals. Then there are all the ways bad hormone timing can screw up brain development, one of which is that the brain gets wired for the opposite gender from what the genes say. That's where transsexuals come from. (Organic chem joke - some people like to think of "normal" people as being cis. ;) )

#109 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Okay, my fiction is female, my non-fiction is male, and my blog entries are male, too.

*looks down at chest*

Boy, do I wish my bra size agreed.

Then again, I tend to side with spiralsheep (@21) - the tool itself preferences gender over culture, and I would be willing to swear that the culture I live in, as well as the culture I write in, have a bigger influence on my writing than my gender. (For those who are interested, I live in the Australian culture, which has a good strong dose of egalitarianism[1]; write non-fiction for an academic audience[2]; and write blog entries for a relatively online-savvy group on Livejournal[3]). I also work tech support, where I have to overcome the major disadvantage of having a mezzo-soprano voice rather than a baritone - my language choices are largely slanted to the masculinised end of the spectrum.

[1] Which means that the women act like men, and so do the men.
[2] A rather masculinised culture at the best of times
[3] I'd be willing to bet that the majority of my readers are female, but even so, I doubt any of them faint when faced with a disembowelled computer.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 09:02 AM:

Meg @ 109... the women act like men, and so do the men.

How did that line go in Mel Brooks's western, Blazing Saddles?

"When men were men. So were the women. And the sheep were very afraid."

#111 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Speaking of gender...please don't speak of scrota.

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2007/02/a_list_of_child.html

#112 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 01:32 PM:

MWT @ 108: (Organic chem joke - some people like to think of "normal" people as being cis. ;) )

Bard Bloom's fictional character Sythyry uses "cisaffectionate" and "transaffectionate" to refer to wanting to date members of, respectively, the same and different (sapient) species.

#113 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 02:23 PM:

I once lived near a small university where one of their slogans was "Where the women are women, and the men are too."

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 03:47 PM:

I'm not the world's most masculine man, but I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man and so is Lola.

One of my favorite scope ambiguities.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Or is it a referential opacity? I can't remember. Kids, lawn, offa, you know.

#116 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 07:49 PM:

I was going to say that I didn't think anyone here had read any of my fiction, but there's a Julia Jones who reviewed some B7 fanzines. And it looks as though I also committed filk in those distant days.

Not that I trust this gender-identification thing.

#117 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 10:10 PM:

The line I like is about our local men and hooking up with one:

Your odds are good, but the goods are odd.

#118 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Tania, that's a good one, I haven't heard it for a while. Since I met my husband when I started a SF club at KU, that's a VERY good one.

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Tania 117: You've just encapsulated my life in a pair of short phrases.

#120 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Tania @117
That's what my dad says about the Internet.

#121 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:59 AM:

I threw a couple of blog entries in, and all of them came back female.

If sexual orientation is a confusing factor, that could explain why it's wrong.

#122 ::: Jack Kincaid ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Apparently, I am a male novelist, a sexually confused short story writer, and a female novella writer. The next time I am in novella mode I'll be sure to inform my spouse that she is in a lesbian relationship. It would feel wrong to keep it from her. Who knows, it may even spice things up a touch. (:

#123 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Well, that's interesting. this post on whether or not JK Rowling sticks to her own canon scores heavily male, but this post on teaching got 1716 female and 1712 male. I'm not too surprised; whenever I've got into online argument, many people, especially men, tend to assume I'm male. Hmmm.

#124 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 12:03 PM:

OK, the MyHeritage.com celebrity-resemblance widget that Sara linked to in #35 pegged the two celebrities I resemble most as Viggo Mortensen and Gene Wilder.

That's the most awesome machine generated compliment I've ever received.

#125 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:29 AM:

That face-matching thingie (#35) tells me I look like Edsger Dijkstra.

#126 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:57 AM:

"Baradis, Eltāringua!" processes as female.

#127 ::: Danny Yee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:39 PM:

I fed it 10 of my book reviews, selected randomly, and it told me 9 of them were written by a man. Not bad! Strangely, the one review it reckoned was written by a woman was my review of Universal Compression and Retrieval.

#128 ::: Rhnnn ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 02:31 AM:

wll wz lk fr sx nd nd sm 2 fck rt nw

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2009, 02:42 AM:

Looking for a sex? Use both hands to find your bottom, draw an imaginary horizontal line forward from there. There lies a sex.

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