Thinking about gender

Not me thinking about gender :) but some other smart persons doing it. Not that I’ve actually finished reading them all. (Do I ever finish reading anything?) Mostly on the whole Autogynephilia thing. (Which I still think I’d rather spell “Autogynophilia”.) The word (and the concept) has some baggage attached to it in various contexts, but baggage can be interesting.

Autogynephilia on a Napkin: Part 1, Part 2.

Men who want to have a woman’s body (Autogynephilia for Dummies)

Found, I think, from a John Carter tweet while browsing around about Blue Mars.

And sort of on the other side of the coin, a Plurk from Dusty Artaud led me to The CTO Wore Drag, in which the author expresses dismay that some people are different genders in RL and in virtual worlds, even in business contexts.

The tone of the article really annoyed me (as is probably obvious from my comments, heh heh). The author refers to cross-gender AVs as “gender-inappropriate avatars” (owch!), and opines that she doesn’t want various of her employees to be “creative at all”. So very very very XXth century thinking.

I had a dream a long long time ago, before SL, about a world in while people could switch genders at will (although it was a somewhat inconvenient process). I do look forward to us learning to make less of a Big Deal about this stuff; so much pain could be avoided…

8 Responses

  1. According to the study noted in this article, androgynous avatars are perceived as being less trustworthy.

  2. Nice link, thanks!

    Sad, but not surprising; we’re always more suspicious of the strange or different, or anything that doesn’t fit into our prepared mental boxes. Funny they don’t seem to have included race in the study; I’d be curious to know whether the race effect would come out stronger or weaker than the ambiguous-gender effect.

  3. There may come a time when people will stop caring about who is behind the avatar. And when that happens we may find that people start wondering why nobody seems to care about them. :)

  4. Hm, I doubt we’ll stop caring about who is behind the avatar, any more than we stop caring about who is behind the body. See previous post. :)

    But I do hope we stop caring about these fictional strict binary gender choices, and getting all uptight whenever anything suggests that the borders between male and female, or androphile and gynophile, might be sort of porous. I mean, chill out, people!

  5. I think the issue of cross-gender identification/ pretending is another manifestation of all the other pretending that occurs when creating/operating avatars in any digital world. In other times when actors played roles of the opposite gender, either from a lack of available actors of the gender assigned to the character in the drama, or because of a specific dramatic device being employed by the playwright, there were likely some who were drawn to the role by a predilection for cross-gender identification, and also likley some actors just enjoying the role for a jolly bit of french farce. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose n’est pas?

  6. Ah, oui. :) Interesting point. To what extent are we, when in virtual worlds, putting on a play for ourself and/or others? To what extent are we doing that in the real world?

  7. I know a lot of people in Second Life who are openly playing an avatar a different gender to their real life self. They use voice quite openly and are very happy to admit to roleplaying in this way.

    The only time I think it ever needs to be a problem is when people are trying to be deceptive about it in involving others in r/ships etc.

    But seriously… people do spend a bit too much time concerning themselves with who is behind the avatar. And shock horror…. furries are probably not labradors in RL either.

  8. Yep, I’m with you there, Josue; people ought to do what they like, as long as they aren’t lying or otherwise acting maliciously. And people should accept that as normal human behavior.

    But apparently there are still alot of people who still think (to quote “The CTO Wore Drag”) “It’s a weird, weird area”. Ah well, time will tell. :)

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