Sunday, September 16, 2007

More on the Gender Question

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

A couple of years ago, my advanced comp & rhetoric professor showed us a website that guesses whether you're a man or woman based on your writing:

So far, I've tried six writing selections from three different stories and three different blog entries, one of which was my last post. Every single one of them gave me the same result. The Gender Genie thinks I'm a man.

For the sake of curiousity, I decided to do some research by plugging other people's writing into the Genie to see what happened. Here are my results:
Neil Gaiman (text from his blog): Entries - 5 male, 6 female.
Terry Pratchett (text from L Space website): 3 male, 1 female.
Jenny (from blog): 2 male, 1 female.
Whit (from blog): 3 male, 0 female.

The results are interesting. Of the people I plugged in, Whit and I were the only two who were totally consistent. Neil's results kept going back and forth, switching off almost exactly every other sample. I kept trying to get results that would indicate a majority, but no luck. Maybe I needn't feel so guilty about wanting to be him when I grow up - after all he writes more like a woman than I do.


-John said...

I figured I would be decidedly male, but I found some surprising results:

Of fifteen blog entries I entered, ten came back male, five female.

My short story about the returning son, is male.

My round story chapter is female.

My four chapters of my noir, came back as female! I could have sworn it would have been male.

The thing runs off of keywords that it supposes men or women use more of. The thing is I wonder how accurate it is. Is it really an occurring trend, or was the breakdown cooked up by someone who THOUGHT they were the words that men and women use more. Is it giving an honest reading of how men and women differ, or is it reinforcing prescripted gender identity values?

What you got yourself into is a strain against how you see yourself, how society sees you, how you think society sees you, how society thinks it should see you, and how you think society should see you. You could spend an eternity trying to sort it all out, but really the issue should be how you want to see yourself, and not worry about the people who don't see it the same way.

Debbie said...

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Mine all came out as male, too. Even big chunks of MMG, which is women's fiction. Seems about as reliable as the god program.

When I think of fantasy writers, the names that pop into my head first are all men. You might have to work at finding some women whose writing you admire in that genre. Of course, you can become the role model for the women who follow you.

Because I tend toward more mainstream books, with a lot of forays into genres, I stumbled on Margaret Atwood, Ann Tyler, Jodi Picoult and the like. Actually, there are a couple Atwood books that stray into spec fic territory you might enjoy.

Read what you want. Write what you want. Forty years later and we're still having to deal with this gender stereotyping bull.

Ali said...

Yeah, I tend to doubt the Gender Genie's overall accuracy (even beyond the results we've just seen). It's fun, though, by way of a game to play.

As far as genuine concern about the issue goes, I'm not very worried. I have reasons for why I write the way I write, whether it's a "male" style or not, and I don't see those reasons changing any time soon.

Besides, I have no problem becoming that role model I can't seem to find.