Memes and gender

This week and next week, I am not going to discuss an article from the readings in my Gender and Computing class, because I will be acting as “lead discussant” during class both weeks, and (per the syllabus) we are supposed to exclude those articles from our blog posts.

So, this week I want to discuss something I found interesting that’s kind of related. It definitely deals with gender, and a computer was involved!

I’m a regular user of the social networking site Facebook. Lately, there’s been a rash of memes, where people will post questions and answers in their “notes” and tag their friends. If you are tagged, you are supposed copy the meme, change the answers to be your own, post it in your own notes, and tag your own friends. Basically, the chain letter has taken another form.

Anyway, around Valentine’s Day, a friend posted two different sets of questions. One was supposed to be answered by men about their wives/girlfriends and the other was supposed to be answered by women about their husbands/boyfriends. The first thing I noticed about these lists was that some of the questions were different. (Thanks to this class I now have a much more gender-critical eye! LOL) I thought it was interesting, and asked why that was the case. Then, the following discussion between me, two females and two males ensued. (I’ve removed the names of the people involved, except myself, for their privacy.)

MALE 1 at 11:47pm February 13
YEah… uh… good luck with that. We’re men. We build things, we solve spatial problems. We kill spiders.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 11:50pm February 13
Maybe I should have sent them to the women, to send to the men. You guys might have had more um, motivation, to do it then. Oh well.

MALE 1 at 12:29am February 14
Too many questions, not enough beer and football. πŸ™‚

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 1:25am February 14
Hey, you guys answered other Facebook notes. This is no different. Don’t let the lack of man points deter you from having fun and/or pleasing your woman. πŸ™‚
Then again, maybe I made an error in judgement making this. No one has to do it after all.

A different FEMALE at 1:58am February 14
Good effort, [FEMALE who posted original sets of questions] πŸ™‚ I would forward it to my husband…but I suspect I’d get a similar response as [MALE 1] gave!! (actually, I think I might print this out and use it for date night discussion instead, might be more productive that way…)

Jenny Hertel at 8:40am February 14
Why are the questions for the men different than for the women? Just curious. I’m intrigued why guys are expected to know the women’s dress size but women are asked about his fave sports team. Or, men are asked what women want to change about them but women are asked what the women do that they wish they wouldn’t do.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 1:08pm February 14
I am the one who changed them. I thought about leaving them all the same, but then, I thought this was better. Men are more apt to buy lingerie, dresses, sweaters, etc. as gifts than they are shoes. And they buy flowers (though I personally forbid anyone buying flowers for me.) A lot of women have a favorite sports team but a lot still don’t.
Many I changed just because I thought they were better, regardless of gender. For example: ones with separate parts (which includes the “wish you wouldn’t do”/”change”) because I thought there should be more detail when I answered the one about men. I thought extra-curriculars, hobbies and academic subjects say more about any person than collections and the name of a high school,
I do think men and women will always be different, even if society today leans towards ignoring or changing that fact. I would rather celebrate the differences, myself.

Jenny Hertel at 1:39pm February 14 at 3:18pm February 14
I agree that men and women will always be different. I think, tho, that the differences themselves are different for different people. Did you get that? LOL I just mean that the idea of what is masculine and what is feminine is socially constructed–what is masculine for one person may not be so for another.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 3:18pm February 14
your right, that is actually one of the reasons I changed it & left all sports out, because not everyone cares, including men. Kevin was like, ‘but I don’t really have a favorite team…” He said he’d pick the Colts if he had to pick.
Also I wanted to say that the differences between men and women are evident in the comments. Look how the men are refusing to even do the survey because it wouldn’t be masculine!

MALE 1 at 5:39pm February 14
Regarding the shoe question: I’d never buy a pair of shoes for someone without them there. Nobody has generic sized feet, and the odds of getting it right are nil to .000001.

Inherently this poll is sexist. You ask what a guy knows about his woman… to make it truly gender-neutral, you’d have to come up with gender-neutral questions. Personally, that would even be MORE boring.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 5:50pm February 14
I tried to improve on some of them, but I left a bunch alone. My this is causing controversy! Its just a little note.

MALE 1 at 5:52pm February 14
The main thing is, no guy wants to be grilled on his knowledge of his woman. It’s not something we like to play “guess what I know about”. WE know our women and know how to use that information (or how to find it out), but to divulge that information in public just isn’t done.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 5:57pm February 14
Most of these questions were on the original survey, including the political one. I REALLY don’t want people to know who I voted for, but I left it on there, as I answered it on the original it only seemed fair.
No one has to answer, or publicly post…

Jenny Hertel at 7:03pm February 14
I wouldn’t say it’s controversy…just discussion. Discussion is good πŸ™‚

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 7:59pm February 14
The original survey for women to fill out should looked at as well. There were a lot of gender specific things in there and I am pretty sure it floated around Facebook for a long time with NO ONE commenting on that.

MALE 2 at 8:00pm February 14
Seems like questions that ask specifics about women are…what? Too demanding? While the questions of a similar depth for men are OK? Are men so simplistic that women are obliged to know their sundry details intimately, but men cannot?

I didn’t have a problem with any of the questions. But then, I would be able to answer all of them. Perhaps it’s not the questions but what thoughts they bring up that’s the problem.

And that’s not something anyone can control.

FEMALE who posted original sets of questions at 8:03pm February 14
Oh, Jenny, there are quiz books like this for people that are engaged. [name removed] and I did them and there is a pink one about the woman and a blue one about the man, and they have completely different questions in them.

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