The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Facebook and Gender May 14, 2010

Filed under: Meta,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — theradicalnotion @ 10:56 am
Tags: , ,

So criticizing Facebook, especially its latest iteration,  is kind of like . But I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw their latest bit of WTF?!

The first block is covering a completely unambiguous "lady name", btw.I delisted my gender a while back, just to mess with them (same reason I delisted my sexual orientation; if it’s something you have a right to care about, you probably already know). Facebook was not so much of a fan of the non-gendered TRN, but eventually they stopped begging and shut up. Now most of my profile page is a sea of the third-person plural (“TRN waggled their scurvy tongue ’bout Alexander Hamilton’s recent tales”) or just sentences structured in a way that doesn’t require a pronoun at all, but apparently Facebook (or at least the Pirate English version) is unable to cope with all my activities in a gender-neutral manner.

So, okay. Why does Facebook automatically assume that I am male? Short answer: male is the default gender in pretty much every person’s mind for everything ever. Slightly longer answer: Facebook has a history of being particularly crappy about things like gender anyway.

But Facebook does have several reasons to assume that I’m female, rather than male. For one thing, my main college network is a women’s college. For another, my gender was listed as “female” for years, and I never changed it to something different. My friends list is approximately 80% female, my interests include such topics as “feminism”, and there are many photos that do little to disguise my femme-y, voluptuous self.

Of course, none of those are sufficient reasons to peg me as female with 100% certainty. I actually like that Facebook apparently doesn’t assume that students at my college, or students who used to identify as female, necessarily still are – I know several people for whom that’s not the case. And obviously, gendering profiles based on feminist leanings or a high percentage of ladyfriends would be ridiculous.

But I still find it quite interesting that I’m apparently a dude. I’m not offended at the idea that someone might think I was a man – I do have the cis privilege to almost never be misgendered, so it’s not a sore spot for me or anything. But I am slightly miffed that Facebook seems to have taken the stance of “well we can’t say for sure, but just in case let’s say dude once in a while”, rather than sticking with gender-neutral all the time or – horror of horrors! – throwing in a female pronoun here and there. I do realize that a lady accidentally being called a dude is nowhere near as big a deal as a man being mistaken for a woman (insert SISSY BOY APOCALYPSE), so they went the route least likely to offend, but…yeah.  Facebook FAIL.

P.S. Soon finals will be over and I will GRADUATE and then maybe, just maybe, I will make a substantive post! WOOT!


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