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[P]
Gender and Sexuality on the Net

By enterfornone in Culture
Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 10:04:07 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

While webcams and digital cameras are gaining popularity, communication on the Internet is still primarily text based. As you don't get to see who it is you are talking to, so the usual laws of physical attraction no longer apply. And whether by omission or deliberate deception, you often can't even tell the gender of the person on the other end of the conversation.

This no doubt causes all sorts of problems. Particularly for the increasing number of people who are meeting and falling in love, sight unseen, over the net. However, as physical appearance is not an issue in such a relationship, should gender be an issue?


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While many psychologists and sex therapists will insist all of us are potentially bisexual, the majority of people consider themselves to be of a sexual preference that prefers one gender over another.

While scientists are divided over what causes sexual preference, it is fairly well known what it is that causes gender. Gender is determined on the genetic level, and manifests itself physically in such things as breast development in females and external genitals in males.

Such physical characteristics are not at all obvious on the text based net.

So we know what causes gender, now what causes sexual attraction? Is it purely physical? I would think not, since we have heard of plenty who have developed an attraction on the Net before seeing each other physically. And if it is not physical, why does the gender of the other party have any importance?

Example, you've been chatting to each other for months. You have gone from being just friends to something more. And then your Internet lover tells you "I'm a blonde" or "I'm a little overweight". Does that change everything? Most would consider you a superficial bastard if it did.

But your Internet lover says "I'm a man". And you are a man, you consider yourself a straight man. Does that change everything? Perhaps if he was telling you he was a female then yes, he was lying. But what if that never came into it, what if you just assumed that this person that you find yourself so attracted to was a member of the gender you would be attracted to in the physical world.

If gender is only about genes and looks then it shouldn't matter at all. But I imagine in most cases it would. Why is that?

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Poll
I'm attracted to...
o Men, physically 2%
o Women, physically 38%
o Men, on a deeper psychological level 5%
o Women, on a deeper psychological level 25%
o Gender is not relevant, I'm (potentially) attracted to both physically 9%
o Gender is not relevant, I'm (potentially) attracted to both on a deeper psychological level 21%

Votes: 100
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o what it is that causes gender
o Also by enterfornone


Display: Sort:
Gender and Sexuality on the Net | 26 comments (25 topical, 1 editorial, 1 hidden)
U can tell the difference! (1.91 / 12) (#2)
by Foul_Irony on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 07:06:57 AM EST

I have chatted to people on the net for a few years, and feel that I do know the difference between men and women is a text based enviroment.

It might be difficult while your a teenager with no idea how the oppersite sex work, but it shouldn't be used as proof of homo compatability.

The fact that people turn out to be different to the way u picture them is important, if you want a relationship to develop from it - but then, you only realise how stupid politically correct viewpoints are when its too late.

put this to the front page as its a great subject to discuss.


No, you can't... (3.50 / 4) (#10)
by Parity on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:08:30 PM EST

Or, rather, you can't tell -completely-; it's not so easy as saying "i'm a girl!" or "ME MAN. UGH!", of course, and the people that do it at roughly that level of skill are -very- spottable. There are also, of course, a number of subconcious behaviour cues... (Given statement from netfriend N, 'My dishwasher is broken', a male is likely to start going on about pipes and hoses and wires and try to find a solution to the problem; a female is likely to be sympathetically understanding and emotionally supportive.)

The problem is, of course, these -trends- in behaviour are only trends, not absolutes, and many people defy their own gender role all the time... the more they do it, the harder they'll be to place even if they're not -trying- to disguise their gender but took some kind of generic screen name that isn't gender-specific.

Add to this people who are deliberately and with careful skill and long practice pretending to be the other gender, well, it takes more effort to imitate gender behaviour than it does to discuss it, but it's perfectly doable. Look at it this way - if it -weren't- possible to put down a text representation of the opposite gender's thought, no man would ever have compelling female characters, and no woman would ever have compelling male characters. Many don't, of course - it's not easy to do, certainly - but some do.

Or, in otherwords, just because you can spot the guy clumsily pretending to be a gal in the chatroom so s/he can get some quick hot virtual sex, doesn't mean you can spot everyone. (Especially not women pretending to men so they can play MUDs or Everquest or whatever in peace without being hit on every ten seconds.)

Parity Odd


[ Parent ]
ok, so it isn't a black and white argument! (2.66 / 3) (#13)
by Foul_Irony on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 05:04:17 PM EST

it all depends on the quality and length of the chat!

I can normally work out peoples ages when I chat to them for a while, so why not their gender..?

This is not after a 10 min conversation .. but more over a matter of weeks .. and they need to be the same nationality for u to be able to do it.

To put my theory into practice, I would say that u are female.

Its all down to how well u listen to the other person, I might well be totally wrong about u, but thats not the point, it doesn't bother me what ur gender is, so the question becomes irrelevant!

Obviously, this answer does little for the argument!




[ Parent ]
Sometimes you can sometimes you can't (none / 0) (#24)
by Karmakaze on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 02:58:05 PM EST

I am regularly mistaken for a male in online speech, even in groups where I have been around for a while. I've even been mistaken for a male while playing a female PC on a role playing group. One of the other players assumed I was just one of those guys who likes to play female PCs. (Admittedly, this was long enough ago that the male/female ratio of folks online was more pronounced.)

I happen to think I'm pretty feminine, but according to a lot of the Men=Mars/Women=Venus style bestsellers, I communicate in a more "masculine" mode. (Which is BS - what they define as "masculine" I define as "confident").

Keep in mind that unless you've actually met these people you chat with, it's possible that you've never been wrong that you know of. If someone crosses the definitions well enough, you'd simply never notice.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]
Sometimes you can sometimes you can't (none / 0) (#25)
by Karmakaze on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 02:58:06 PM EST

I am regularly mistaken for a male in online speech, even in groups where I have been around for a while. I've even been mistaken for a male while playing a female PC on a role playing group. One of the other players assumed I was just one of those guys who likes to play female PCs. (Admittedly, this was long enough ago that the male/female ratio of folks online was more pronounced.)

I happen to think I'm pretty feminine, but according to a lot of the Men=Mars/Women=Venus style bestsellers, I communicate in a more "masculine" mode. (Which is BS - what they define as "masculine" I define as "confident").

Keep in mind that unless you've actually met these people you chat with, it's possible that you've never been wrong that you know of. If someone crosses the definitions well enough, you'd simply never notice.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]
The purpose of mating (4.16 / 6) (#3)
by theboz on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 09:40:28 AM EST

The real purpose of people getting together is to breed. Humans are just like animals, and no matter if you feel that you are with a "special" someone or not, it is mostly because of your genetic desire to reproduce. Everything else is in your mind. I'm not saying that love isn't real, but it is more of a mental state in your mind. That's why you can be attracted to people that aren't attracted to you. It's a useful tool that our species uses to survive, but the full extent of it is based on hormones and phermones and such. While you can appreciate and have feelings for someone from the internet, over the phone, etc. you really don't know what you need to about that person to really "love" them. Sure, you like their personality. That is enough to be friends. The rest of what you don't know about them your mind makes up. I know a lot of people think it is a bad thing to place an importance on appearance because we've all watched those Disney movies to tell us to respect everyone even if they are different, but that doesn't mean we are supposed to want to breed with people that we are not physically attracted to.

In summary: Yes, physical appearance *IS* important for a relationship past friendship. Love as in a couple is a physical thing, and it can start out as a friendship, but only if there is physical attraction in the friendship then there can be love. If you have an online "lover" it is more that you are loving the image of them in your mind than the real person they are. Even personalities are different in real life than online. I'm an asshole online, and slightly less of an asshole in person. I look better in my pictures than I do in real life, and I have bad habits in real life that don't show up online (even though only my neighbors downstairs would be the ones to get mad that I don't close the shower curtain all the way and have the water go through their ceiling.) Anyways, there is importance in the physical, just as there is importance in the mental part of life. Physical beauty gets a bad rap because it is usually more obvious when a person is physically ugly than when a person's personality is ugly. But, I require both in a girl if I am to have a relationship with her.

Stuff.

What is love ? (2.66 / 3) (#12)
by retinaburn on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:55:36 PM EST

I was thinking about this recently.
I think love is the need one has to protect, nourish others. If you love your spouse you want to protect them, keep them fed, clothed (sometimes) and in good health. You love you family and feel the same way about them.

Desire is what one feels when they wish to procreate with someone else.
I haven't quite figured out why desire is not just wham-bam-thank you-mam. Perhaps that's where love comes in again, wanting to make the other person feel special. If they feel special they stay with you.

We are animals, we are ruled by our emotions. We feel emotions because it helps us to survive.

Our big brains are often fooled by our emotions, but its quite hard to fool your emotions with your big brain.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Baby Don't Hurt Me! (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Mad Hughagi on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 08:54:22 PM EST

Hahahahah... I had to, sorry about that! ;)

On a more serious note however, I believe that love is simply a higher level mental process that we're hard-wired with. It's an efficient way for us to ascertain how much we value certain relationships and whatnot.

I think most of our emotions and feelings are that way. I don't mean to take away from the beauty or romantic concepts that we associate with them, hey, I figure if we have them we might as well use them, just that they're probably well founded mechanisms from one of our previous evolutionary stages.

As for the concept of being ruled by emotions, I would tread carefully on that one. I guess that it depends on where you draw the line between emotions and rational thought, but if I was ruled by my emotions I would have been institutionalized pretty early on. Being able to rationalize why you shouldn't do something out of fear, sexual desire, etc etc is all about suppressing your emotions with your big brain and I think we all do it constantly, so it can't be that hard.

With regards to the original article, I'm going to go out on a limb here and forward the notion that your physical relationship friends aren't much different from your phsycological relationship friends (unless you're into procreation for the sport of it, at which point I think it removes the relationship aspect and catagorizes it as phsyical recreation). Ever hear that saying, "If you were the opposite sex, I'd marry/sleep with/whatever you!" ? I think it applies pretty much to most people. I have friends of all kinds of sexual dispositions and as such I find that I am attracted to them all, just not on the same basis. I like the way they act, or the way they think, etc etc and as such I like to hang out with them. I have a girlfriend simply because I find her to satisfy all of my attractions very well, but that doesn't mean that I don't find the some of the same characteristics in many of my other friends.

If I were to find out that someone I was attracted to on the net turned out to be of a different gender than I assumed it would probably dictate how I was attracted to them physically, but I don't think I would be anyless attracted to them than I was before. If you're making up a physical characterization of them in your mind then that is fantasizing, and of course you're going to get let down when you realize they aren't what you had dreamed them up to be. Don't assume, and if it really matters to you then ask. That way you'll be able to deal with the situation appropriately. Then again if they lie to you you're in a whole different ballpark, but there isn't really much you can do about that.


HUGHAGI INDUSTRIES

We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

Gender Vs. Sex (4.16 / 6) (#4)
by YaRness on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 10:45:40 AM EST

You can be MALE sexually (i.e. have a penis, testes, etc) and be FEMININE gender-wise (i think i spelled that right. think brian boitano)... etc, any other combination.

Although gender is probably, for the most part, determined by sex ('cause it's probably influenced by the repective hormones) this is not always the case. Note that in the article you linked to above, the word GENDER is never mentioned. It just talks about the genes involved in physical sexual characteristics.

As for determining what a person is really like from text alone, you can't. Period. A lot of people might be honest about who they are, but there are also a lot of good actors out there. Surf at your own risk.
"Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind." Registered Linux User #188285 http://counter.li.org/
With all due respect... (2.75 / 8) (#7)
by 0xdeadbeef on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 01:06:04 PM EST

that is complete nonsense. If you are going to classifly gender seperate from the hardware, you might as well invent new genders, non-genders, anti-genders, etc. Gender traits are based on stereotypes, which are themselves exagerated from real differences imposed by biology. All this postmodernist gobblygook does is reenforce the stereotypes is seeks to shatter. It's a bit like one saying that he may look like one race, but be another at heart.

It sounds absurd, but not because the person has an identity crisis, but becase he is too stupid to recognize the difference between a mental and physical trait. He has inherited he ignorance of the culture at large, and applied it to himself. The error is not that one can be something they're not, but to assume that any set of mental characteristics can be characterized as belonging to one race, or one sex.

[ Parent ]
re: With all due respect... (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by YaRness on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 02:51:29 PM EST

if i get you right, then you are saying there shouldn't be gender identity at all, we shouldn't need gender classification, or any typing, at all. it's a nice ideal concept, and i would tend to agree, but if it's possible, we're a long way off from it.

on the other hand, to make myself clearer:

by your definition (i think), gender is inseperable from one's hardware.

so what gender is someone with both sets of hardware? ( i can't remember the names of the genetic disorders.. i guess hermaphrodite will do) what about if you change hardware? (which, sooner or later, will be something a little more clean-cut than the slapshot sex-change operations that are done now)

to put it a little more explicitly, when i say sex is different from gender, i mean that how your hardware is defined is different from what your behavior is. and i mean to show that stereotypes are bad... you can't defines someone's gender (sexual identity) necessarily by what is (or isn't) swinging between their legs.


"Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind." Registered Linux User #188285 http://counter.li.org/
[ Parent ]
Gender and biological sex can be separated (4.20 / 5) (#9)
by iGrrrl on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:01:55 PM EST

Oxdeadbeef:

If you are going to classifly gender seperate from the hardware, you might as well invent new genders, non-genders, anti-genders, etc.

There are people who would love to do just that. We're a small portion of the population, but we're out here. Transgendered people have a psychic make-up at odds with their physical make up and are recognized by the psych community. Some people consider themselves neuter despite possessing working parts. People like me who are bi-gendered end up in the limbo of "bisexual" which is not exactly appropriate. Many bisexuals are happily gendered. I have a female body, but my brain walks both sides of the street. Hell, I've been mistaken for a man both on line and IRL. Bi-gendered.

The error is not that one can be something they're not, but to assume that any set of mental characteristics can be characterized as belonging to one race, or one sex.

I think this view is both right and wrong. I'm not of the feminist view that women and men are the same and only culture forms the differences. Many differences are probably innate. People who study development of children will tell you there are differences in behavior from early ages. Girls don't suffer the testosterone drive of male adolesence, either. That said, there are those of us who don't fall on typical lines despite best parental attempts to impose culture on us one way or the other. But you're quite right that confining a characteristic to one sex (or race) is inappropriate.

The world is shades of gray.


--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Gender is nothing but stereotypes (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by 0xdeadbeef on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 01:46:08 AM EST

You like my suggestion of more than two genders, but consider yourself "bi-gendered". That to me says that you agree with me, but are still trapped in the mindset of the culture at large. I'm saying that there are more than two sides of the street. In fact, there is no street.

There are two sexes, and I recognize that there are some personality traits that are influenced by biology. I also recognize that there are people who are uncomfortable with their born sex and the gender stereotypes assigned to it.

What I want these people to recognize is that they are being manipulated by stereotypes. It shouldn't make a damn bit of difference what your hardware is, or how you dress, or who you like to fuck, etc. You don't have to change yourself to fit society's expectations for your personality.

[ Parent ]
pi-gendered (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by ana on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 12:16:19 PM EST

0xdeadbeef says:

You like my suggestion of more than two genders, but consider yourself "bi-gendered". That to me says that you agree with me, but are still trapped in the mindset of the culture at large. I'm saying that there are more than two sides of the street. In fact, there is no street.

There's a very strong cultural pressure to recognize exactly two genders, and so the first obvious way of violating this is to claim both (or neither). There's certainly more than one "gender" going on in my life, but I can't say for certain how many (2? 2.5? 3.14?) or even if the question is well-posed.

0xdeadbeef goes on to say:

What I want these people to recognize is that they are being manipulated by stereotypes. It shouldn't make a damn bit of difference what your hardware is, or how you dress, or who you like to fuck, etc. You don't have to change yourself to fit society's expectations for your personality.

Well, yes and no. Some of it has to do with cultural stereotypes, for sure. And there's lots of pressure to conform (and I do, mostly). But some of it has to do with one's essential nature, and how one wishes to be treated. The world's not going to change just because I'm uncomfortable.

Ana

Years go by; will I still be waiting
for somebody else to understand?
--Tori Amos

[ Parent ]

Absurd? (4.00 / 3) (#15)
by aphrael on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 06:44:49 PM EST

It sounds absurd

It does, doesn't it? But as far as I can tell, *it's not*.

Someone I know recently announced himself to be a pre-operation transsexual about to start a required period of living as a woman before undergoing the operation; he went away for a while and then came back with a new name and dress style.

I did a fair amount of research in response to this --- i'm a fairly open guy in a reasonably liberal town, but this was entirely new to me --- and it turns out this isn't unprecedented: there are people who, for whatever reason, suffer from a massive mismatch between their percieved identity and their physical one. People with this problem truly believe themselves to be of a gender different than their physical one; and, given the choice between some sort of chemical therapy to change their mental perceptions and some sort of physical operation to make their physical gender match their mental one, they would choose the latter.

I don't understand this any more than most straight guys understand why I would get an erection thinking about sexual acts with cute men --- the entire idea makes zero sense to me. But I have to acknowledge that there are people who feel this way, and that the best thing in the world for them --- the only way they can be happy --- is to get the operation they need to make their mental world and their physical world sync with one another again.

[ Parent ]

re:Absurd? (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by klucas on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 08:01:55 AM EST

"given the choice between some sort of chemical therapy to change their mental perceptions and some sort of physical operation to make their physical gender match their mental one.."

Quite apart from the fact that there is no chemical therapy that can change gender identity: It's not a chemical imbalance issue like depression is, it's a brain structure issue.




[ Parent ]
re:Absurd? (none / 0) (#26)
by ethereal on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 04:54:15 PM EST

Huh? Women and men have different brain structures based on their DNA? Care to back that up?

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

RE: With all due respect... (3.25 / 4) (#19)
by klucas on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 07:50:25 AM EST


Gender comes in several types:

Genetic gender is whether you're XX, XY or the much less common XXY.

Genetic gender is supposed to dictate one's physical gender but (far more often than you'd think) doesn't always: It's possible for people to be genetically male but never know: They are mentally female and physically female - they can have children for example.

It's possible to be BOTH physical genders: "intersexed" people have physical anatomy which is difficult to ascribe either way, although they usually only feature one set of internal reproductive organs.

There are also true hermaphrodites who have BOTH sets of internal anatomy though usually non-reproductive.

This is caused by insufficient masculinisation of the (originally) female foetus.


Gender identity comes from a portion of the brain, and it's possible to be physically male and genetically male but mentally female.

The cause of this isn't fully known, but a similar incomplete masculinisation would seem a good answer.


So, yes: disregarding sexual preference, there are >2 genders...


[ Parent ]
Hrm ... (3.83 / 6) (#5)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 11:38:49 AM EST

"Example, you've been chatting to each other for months. You have gone from being just friends to something more. And then your Internet lover tells you "I'm a blonde" or "I'm a little overweight". Does that change everything? Most would consider you a superficial bastard if it did.

But your Internet lover says "I'm a man". And you are a man, you consider yourself a straight man. Does that change everything?"

Not only do people decide what mental and physical traits they like in their friends/lovers, these same people get the freedom to decide if a certain trait (physical or mental) can be more important. There's nothing more silly than expecting everyone in the world to put more emphasis on mental traits than physical ones. If some guy out there wants to only date blonde women, then so be it. Who am I to even care? And if I spend 5 months chatting it up with him, saying I *am* a blonde woman when I am not, it's my problem if he ditches me when he learns the truth. Honestly, what is to gain in deception? Are you going to convert someone? Do gay or bisexual men search out straight men by pretending to be women online? WTF? That's insane!

If the guy (or girl) you've been getting involved with online stops talking to you because your overweight in real life, or aren't their idea of a perfect specimen, screw it! They aren't what you're looking for in a friend or as anyhting more. Keep looking. Move along. Nothing to see there.

I've met and gotten involved with people online. It's not the same as normal face-face relationships, but they aren't any more or less difficult. Be yourself. Don't lose your identity. And always remember that the person on the other end could be me. Muhahaha! Just kidding. Really!



-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

Gender and Relationships (4.12 / 8) (#6)
by spaceghoti on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 12:31:38 PM EST

Relationships aren't so easily defined that we can simply say, "everyone can potentially have a relationship with everyone," or "biologically we are driven to have relationships only with people we feel compatible for reproductive purposes."

To illustrate this point, I will relay two conversations I've had in the past four years. I had my astrological/psychic chart worked out by a friend who was into that sort of thing. He worked out my astrological details then asked my sexual orientation, asking me to be brutally honest. Okay, brutal honesty requires the answer of "I'm straight, but open to the possibility that I just haven't met the right guy." My friend then rolls his eyes and says, "every guy says that." Then he pauses, looks back down at my chart and says, "Oh, you're a Pisces. You're probably serious."

The second conversation is with another friend with whom I enjoy a very close relationship. He's solidly homosexual and we tease each other all the time. However, we openly acknowledges that while he enjoys the open spirit and amusement factor of the teasing, he realizes I'm so solidly straight that there's no chance I would actually follow through on my teasing.

Believe it or not, there is a point to this. The point is that net relationships are generally a reflection of the relationships we wish we could have in realspace. It's possible to explore concepts in virtualspace you wouldn't dare touch in realspace, which includes alternative lifestyles such as bisexuality and the like. But this assumes you're curious to begin with. I've had a lot of people hit on me over the Net in the past ten years (being a MUD admin virtually guarantees I get all sorts of attention), and after a while I learned how to distinguish between the legitimately female players and the guys who hoped to get special treatment from me by pretending to be female. If I really didn't care about gender (and was unscrupulous as the guys trying to scam me) I would have accepted the attentions from the female pretenders and pursued a relationship, sexual or otherwise. But I didn't because the thought of entering in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with another man doesn't appeal to me. In other words, I still haven't found the right guy.

I've had very few guys hit on me because they were genuinely interested in me. But regardless of the motivation, I haven't accepted any invitations, simply because that's the way I'm wired. I've met some very good friends whom I love dearly in spite of gender but that love translates more to the Greek agape, which is to say brotherly (non-sexual) love. Depth of emotion is gender-irrelevant to me, but I won't pursue a relationship based on agape.

Anyone who attempts to convince me they're something they aren't (either female or intelligent or whatever) won't get much beyond a pat on the head from me and some encouragement to go have fun. I'm not going to buy into insincerity on the Net regardless of intent.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

Several people are studing this (3.57 / 7) (#11)
by SpaceManBob on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:41:29 PM EST

There is an experiment along these lines that you can participate in. It's called The Turing Game. The gist of it is, there are a panel of people that are judges and a panel of people that pretend to be part of some demographic. The judges talk to the panel, and then make guesses on who is telling the truth and who isn't. The gender issue pops up frequently. And you might be suprised at the results.



heeheehee (3.28 / 7) (#14)
by el_guapo on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 05:25:17 PM EST

well, I'm posting this to the story because I couldn't pick which thread to post it to...I have my own little "social experiment" going with my 3 year old son. Daddy is away a lot, so his main atmosphere at home is female (His mommy and his 2 older sisters). I'm thinking "If gender/sexuality/whatever is a choice, this little guy's gonna prove it". So it was with keen interest that I watched him pick up his sister's Barbie doll, which I soon regretted as he cracked that sucker right across my forehead. Anyways - I offered this as further evidence to my right wing homophobic friends, but alas they're STILL right wing homphobes....ah well.
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
A different approach (4.40 / 5) (#17)
by ehayes on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 09:17:38 PM EST

>If gender is only about genes and looks then it shouldn't matter at all. But I
> imagine in most cases it would.

Oh, it does, it does....

> Why is that?

Well, because gender isn't only about genes and looks. *duh*

I've looked a lot of different ways, and deliberately spoofed the signals. So
it's not just looks.
And I have NEVER been asked to provide a genetic sample, so it's not the
genes.

Speaking from a variety of experiences most people don't have, gender
is something that is so profound, it's at the root, the basis, for almost any
communication at all.
And if you don't know FOR SURE, you make an assumption. Which then
underlies everything else ever said or not said.

While there are those that 'blur' the outlines, step outside the two-box system,
they make 80-90% of the Rest Of The World extremely uncomfortable.

The 'Net offers a wonderful place, one in which nothing physical can be easily
determined, and I think that perhaps in ten-fifteen years we'll see some people
who are even less concerned than we are about gender - perhaps it will be the
same sort of valuation I learned to put on skin color, none at all.
But that's not now.

Why does it make a difference?
I think that, low down, it has to do with communications protocols.
You expect men to act more in a certain way, and women to act more in a
certain other way. I couldn't guess what behaviours you put with each - that's
your job. *grin* But we all have different starting expectations.
They CAN be modified with further interaction... but you start with a base set
that is partially dependent on gender. And if you don't know the gender, you
guess.

Unfortunately, gender is a collective thing, even more so than the physical
parts (which can form in a dazzling number of ways), and the Net chops about
80% of those off *THUNK*. Not just looks and sound but also smell, gesture,
tonal-variations, movements, shared history-or-not...

And, to take the example above, when you find out that one of your earliest
assumptions is COMPLETELY WRONG, and therefore, 80% of EVERYTHING else
you imagined was ALSO wrong...... well, it can throw your brain into spirals.
And most people don't like having that feeling; they react badly to it,
sometimes attacking the person they assumed about.
I think the most bothersome aspect, to most people, is the way that a 'wrong
guess' turns their world upside down, because Things Are No Longer Predictable.


ehayes


Relate. (4.33 / 6) (#22)
by driph on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 09:14:02 AM EST

I dunno, call me a superficial bastard, but looks DO matter. No matter what most of ya'll say, deep down it's really true. When we come down to it, looks(either yours or hers) are what determines whether she's simply a good friend or a lover.

I don't have sex with men not because I have some deep loathing of homosexuality, I don't have sex with men because they are unattractive to me. It comes down to looks. I don't get together with women I find unattractive either.

My guess is that most of the people who claim that "looks dont matter" are either highly enlightened, or are the kind of person who would benefit greatly from a looks-don't-matter policy. Probably most of em are in the latter group.

Now don't get me wrong, looks are by far not the only thing. Physical attraction might bring me over, but it's her mind that is going to keep me.

However, many people, including a good amount of the people who espouse the "looks don't matter" theory in relationships, take physical appearance to such a degree that it prevents them from even MEETING people who don't appeal to them physically. Hmm, that girl has no hair and tattoos and piercing, she must be scary, I'm sure she has nothing to offer. That guy's a jock, he must be an idiot, I'm sure he has nothing to offer. That old man is dressed in pretty scuzzy clothing and hasnt shaved, he must be a bum, I'm sure he has nothing to offer.

And so on.

So let's stop going on about how much looks don't matter when it comes to the people we're fucking, and start concentrating on how it shouldn't matter when it comes to the people to which we're talking.

Thats the good thing about the net. Nobody you're holding that extremely interesting and insightful conversation with knows you're a dog. Will this change the way we perceive relationships? If you're talking about relationships between lovers, no, I don't believe it will. If you're talking about relationships between friends, hell yes.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
Gender and Sexuality on the Net | 26 comments (25 topical, 1 editorial, 1 hidden)
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