"Hi, I'm Randall, and I'm a MAN."

If you have yet to run across posts on elevatorgate/rebeccapocalypse (over 9,000 Google hits on the former term) then you probably don’t read many science/skeptic blogs. If you have and are sick of it, don’t worry, because I’m not going to add my quanta of coinage. I have come to loathe participating in internet discussions of this ilk — despite the community supposedly being held among the science/skeptic minded, they have a tendency to stray from rationality and civility far too quickly and too much in magnitude for my taste. In many cases, if you don’t present the right answer™ as determined by the owner of the dais, you are quickly dogpiled into oblivion, and that can extend to any kind of criticism. Point out someone has misquoted Evil Protagonist (or note that EP was actually correct in some statement) and all of the sudden you are a staunch supporter of Evil Protagonist in the eyes of some (many?) participants.

However, in case you want more of the same or are otherwise interested in a somewhat related topic, here is a post by xkcd’s Randall Monroe on Google+’s insistence on publicly disclosing your gender, which does not seem to have descended into the usual quagmire, though it does include the predictable “it doesn’t bother me so it shouldn’t bother anybody” responses.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of reasons Google+ would want to ask about your gender. But there’s no good reason to pointedly make it the only thing in your profile that can’t be private—and many reasons not to, starting with basic courtesy. It may be a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but I think it’s worth getting right.

2 thoughts on “"Hi, I'm Randall, and I'm a MAN."

  1. I think he makes a good point, and I’m (admittedly) a tad surprised. It’s not always immediately easy for people (men and women) to recognize how your gender affects the comments a blog or post is getting. While I don’t hide mine (in any of my sites) I do understand why some women and men would like to hide theirs, even, as the post says, as a common decency option.

    But the amount of time I, as a woman physics advocate, am getting comments that are more related to my gender than to the physics I am trying to convey (and this happens on YouTube, on my Blog, on Facebook and in random chats with people) is a lot more than I would prefer. Most people don’t realize they’re doing it, but comments that relate to the idea of whether or not I should wear makeup when producing a video (or wear specific items of clothing) are raised QUITE often regardless of the experiment that’s carried out.

    Sure, I personally play out some parts of my gender in my posts, but it’s a delicate dance sometimes, as a lot of posters (and, btw, not just young ones) tend to lose focus on boundaries.

    So.. I would see why people would like to simply not tell their gender. It shouldn’t be required because for some things, honestly, it should not matter.


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