Check One
March 1, 2007

A little over a year ago I joined a community of bloggers and quite enjoyed chatting away in a shoutbox. I have a tendency to not fill out profiles on various sites because I'd rather just be me instead of trying to figure out how to describe me (which is nearly a lost cause anyhow ... I don't fit well into boxes).

Inevitably the question came up. I was talking to some people and one person said "he said" in relation to something I'd mentioned ... and someone else said, "he? don't you mean she?"

And the debate began.

My online screen name of "Ender" is actually a character from the wonderful Sci-Fi book, Ender's Game. The character in the beginning of the book is a 6 year-old boy. Now, I pick that screen name (or EnderFP ... FP for Fisher Price) because I really identified with the character of Ender in that and the subsequent books. It didn't matter if Ender was male or female to me ... we were a lot alike in a lot of ways.

Naturally as the people in the shoutbox began this debate, they "turned" to me and said, "Hey, tell so-and-so that you're a man/woman."

I steadfastly refused.

They went to read my profile ... on which I'd left M/F blank.

The debate raged even further on.

Now, mind you, if you go to my larger site (delete /RedMonkey/ in the address bar) ... you can quickly find a segment of my site which will definitely answer the question, but people don't necessarily think that I own the domain CoyoteThunder, so they didn't think to check that.

For about 3 months, I would simply chortle to myself as the fact that I wrote about my first car meant that I was a man. Or that I wrote about some book meant that I was a woman. Everything I said in my blog and in that community's shoutbox was scrutinized for a while as people tried to make up their minds if I was male or female ... everyone had a theory.

And, there were a few people who got upset ... as if I were purposefully deceiving them, tricking them for some ulterior motive.

My point was simple and remains the same:
In the online world, what difference does it really make? I'm not dating you ... I have no intention of dating you ... I'm happy as I can be with my partner. I'm not interested in anything extracurricular.

And every person to whom I pointed that out, kind of metaphorically stepped back and said, "Oh ... yeah, I guess it doesn't matter."

I'm interested in some things that are considered masculine in some cultures. I'm interested in some things that are considered feminine in some cultures.

It wasn't until two mothers were talking about ADHD in their children ... one the mom of an ADHD son ... the other the mom of an ADHD daughter ... that I realized there are other times when admitting to your biological sex can be important. I spoke of how my ADHD meds affected me ... and the mother of the daughter said, "Yes, but that's the typical reaction of a male on this medication ... it affects females completely differently."


She thought I was male and having the typical male reaction. In order to not "blow my cover" of being the perpetual "Pat" on that site, I didn't say anything to her. I should have.

Because while I am biologically female, I don't really fit well into that category. And my "typical male reaction" to that ADHD drug? Does it possibly mean that there really is a biological component to homosexuality? I am a gay female ... and I have noticed more and more frequently over the past few years that medications which are prescribed to women but not men ... don't work as well for me. In fact, a friend of mine, also a gay female, was prescribed Welbutrin ... which according to her doctor, they don't prescribe to men for depression as it tends to do very wonky things to their behaviour. Relieved that she was able to take this medicine, my friend had high hopes for using it as a kind of mitigator during the switch from one anti-depressant to another.

She reacted to the medication like a man.

The doctor said she'd never had a woman have that adverse reaction before.

I'd love to see some studies done on M/F reactions to meds ... and then compare that to the reactions of M/F gay persons as well.

But that's kind of a side issue. Why is it that when we're online, it's soooooo vitally important to find out ASL? (I had to ask what that was ... to me it means American Sign Language ... apparently in the online world, it's come to mean Age, Sex, Location.)

I'll admit I do want to know if I'm talking to a 13 year old instead of a 25 year old ... but only because I want to couch what I say a little more ... no ... not more of anything ... a little less bluntly. I won't lie to kids, so it's not that I will not talk about something that I would tell an adult. But I might change the way I say it a bit. Other than to make sure the person is "legal" so to speak, I don't care how old they are. Location? well, sometimes it's interesting to learn about a new country ... or even the differences of one area to another in the same country. Sometimes I like to know that the people I know in England are safe when I hear about a car accident in Leeds.

But why would I care if someone was male or female? What difference would that make in our online friendship/acquaintanceship? As I said earlier ... I'm not going to date that person. I don't make passes at other people. What other good does it do to know if they're male or female?

To discover if we have similar interests? Pffffffft. That doesn't work at all.

To me, who we are online is simply revealed by the words we type. Sex, for me, doesn't enter into it at all. An "adult" chatroom where the point is virtual groping, sure, you need to know. But for most day-to-day 'net transactions ... it just doesn't matter.

Do I take offense when some folks refer to me as "he"? Not at all. I find it interesting to see who makes what assumptions ... I'd rather not say at all, but invariably someone corrects the person calling me "he" and the jig is up. But I do find it fascinating to watch the conversation and watch someone try to fumble through the unconscious assumptions they made based on my online behaviour and pinpoint why they thought I was male (or female, for that matter).

The problem for me is simple ... when I get to a website that asks Gender: Male Female ... I don't know what to check. I go to a site that asks for Sex: Male Female, I know I'm biologically female and that's an easy answer.

But gender is more of a social construct ... a set of expectations that men act one way, like certain things ... and that women act another way, like other things.

But we all know this isn't really true. We're human and we're too complex for such a simple distinction. I'm not even naive enough to suggest that homosexuality enters into this ... I think that's an easy way for a lot of people to roll their eyes and avoid the topic completely.

I know a woman who adores horses. She changed the dress code at the company she works at to allow jeans and t-shirts. Her hair is shortish. She speaks plainly. She gets the job done. So far as I know, she's not gay. But she's not that stereotype of a "female" either. And there's nothing wrong with that.

This marketing trend of trying to squish people into Male and Female just burns me. I HATE getting marketing crap for perfume or flowery junk ... just because I checked Female on their damn form.

It's time to grow up and realize that we're more complex than that. Ain't one box gonna cover it.

Posted by Red Monkey at March 1, 2007 10:41 AM | Blog | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Toni Marie said:

I'm like that when people ask about my sexuality, does it matter?
I think I got some male genes passed on to me when my Mother miscarried my twin. I prefer hanging out with males to females, I relate to them better, and I have since I was in kindergarten. I've taken on alot more male traits of my family than the female ones.
I've only ever been in serious relationships with males, but I find myself attracted to females, and have been with both males and females and find them both alluring, but I don't want to define myself in terms of straight, gay or bi, because does that mean if I settle with a man, I'm then straight, or if I find a woman I want to be with I'm gay.
At the end of the day I just want to find someone I enjoy myself with, that I love, and loves me. Regardless of their genitalia.

Red Monkey says: Thank you so much for sharing this ... I agree with what you're saying so much ... I know it's easy enough for me to say I'm gay since I've yet to meet a male I'm attracted to, but I also wouldn't ... oh goodness, but I'm about to open a terrible can of worms ... but I also wouldn't totally rule out a man just for being a man, either. It's far more about attraction and compatibility and love than physical bits and pieces.
March 1, 2007 8:16 PM


mike said:

Well, I for one, always, always knew, you were and are, a girly, girl. I'm smart like that.


Have a great weekend cupcake!

March 2, 2007 3:55 PM


trish said:

Regarding the meds: Wasn't it found that homosexuals have an extra chromosome? Might that have something to do with it? :)

Regarding the rest of the stuff... not really caring whether or not you're male or female - I just like the way you write. I think you're a truly excellent PERSON.

March 2, 2007 8:14 PM


Josh said:

I've talked about gender on my site before as being a societal construct. I'm transgender and I know what you're talking about.

Our need to categorize and label people is ridiculous. Does it really matter what our gender is? There are a lot of people that feel like they don't fit into strictly the male or female category (myself included). I just think people are afraid to not label people, that would be too different and, dare I say, weird.

I had no idea you were a member of 9rules until a friend of mine emailed me about this post. I'm a 9rules member on hiatus :-P

March 3, 2007 1:04 PM


Smash said:

I think sex matters bugger all really. Especially online, though, as you say, I take precautions to ensure that when I'm talking to someone they are not too young, because that would be bad.

As far as attraction goes, I have been attracted to certain dudes, too. I think it's when a person has that certain "something" and you can be attracted to that in both sexes, without having to pigeon-holed as gay/bi/straight.

People just need to open their minds a little more. The internet is sadly - and likely to be forever - a place of ignorance and stupidity.

That said, there is the occasional great person/people out there that make it worthwhile and fun.


March 4, 2007 8:18 AM


blueyes said:

Some people are just hung up on the gender thing. I hangout with males most often only because I think most females are too prissy and I'm just not like that. I could go weeks and not talk to a guy and then we'll go do something and it's like we didn't miss a step. With females you have to keep in contact way more often and I'm not that social - gotta have my quiet time. Some don't get that so I only have a few female friends I'll go and hang with.

March 5, 2007 7:22 AM
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