Apparently, I write like a girl.

The Gender Genie says so. I plugged in all of my stuff for Whilst the Wolf (what was I thinking with that title?), large sections of my blog, and even text for Wolfspider (which is soooo male orientated that it hurts a little). I came up as female 9 of 10 times, though the score is often close. I think the methodology is dubious as is the whole assumption that men and women use language differently, especially in the context of fiction or technical writing.

It does bring up an interesting point about how we view a work based on our perception of the creator of that work. My mother has a story about surreptitiously listening to some gallery goers talking about a piece of hers. “That is so sexist,” one said, “that artist should be ashamed of himself!” I’m not sure my own nome de plume could be mistaken so easily. I do know that whom I think the author is colors my perception of the work, but is that appropriate?

Many people would propose that a work should be experienced of evaluated based on the work alone, but one of the few things I’ve learned about art history is that I personally connect better with a piece when I feel I can place it context, or hang it on a framework of other knowledge. Jacques-Louis David’s work is meaningless to me without knowledge of David’s life and times. I feel that I can’t evaluate a piece of ‘art’ without context.

It is important to know, for example, that Mary Shelly was the child bride of one of England’s premier poets of the day and that she was the daughter of an English feminist who died in childbirth. It’s important to know that the early nineteenth century saw the eruption of new sciences and technology into the popular sphere, and that this frightened people. Shelly wrote Frankenstein at the same decade that the Luddites where rising up and smashing the machines that were putting them out of work.

As an author, I do not feel that I write myself, but I don’t think anything I write can be properly understood without knowing who I am and why I wrote it. The danger, of course, is that the knowledge of who created it and the surroundings of its creation might alter the reader’s perception of the work away from the author’s intention. Many would suppose that a man is incapable of writing a truly gender neutral novel, that it will always snake the arm of patriarchal influence into the text. There is a balance to be struck between understanding the world around a work of creative output and understanding the creative output on its own.

4 thoughts on “Apparently, I write like a girl.

  1. Big Sis

    Well, apparently I write like a boy…. I wonder what that says about our parents…..

  2. Like father, like son

    I fed it my blog entry from today, and it spit back:

    Words: 1032
    (NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

    Female Score: 1455
    Male Score: 1388

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

    1. Like mother, like daughter

      And I fed it some emails from your Mom (labelled them as blog entry) and it spit back:

      Words: 552
      (NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

      Female Score: 430
      Male Score: 536

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

      So I think they’re exactly 180 degrees off… least for our family.

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