Re: There's No Such Thing As Androgyny

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THe more often we do things, the more instictive it becomes. I have to remind myself of this from time to teim.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:09 PM
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Typing, not so much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:10 PM
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Doh! Sorry I stepped on your post, LB.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:12 PM
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Alright! Ogged/Labs, LB/Becks Unfogged DOUBLE STEEL CAGE MATCH! On the undercard, yoyo versus his keyboard!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:14 PM
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No problem. Posts go up when they do, and yours is short, so it's not like mine is invisible. And I don't know that there's all that much to talk about -- Piny's post just hit me as a very familiar bit of weirdness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:15 PM
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if we can thread merge, i think my typing offends the upwardly mobile who prefer the clean facebook-aesthetics, perhaps because it reminds them of ALterNAMySpACE?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:17 PM
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When I first read your nom, I presumed you were a guy. No idea why, but it wasn't really in question. By the third or fourth or tenth comment I realized the presumption and the error. No conclusion to draw here, either; just found it interesting given the content of your post.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:18 PM
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I am never (almost never?) confused for a woman in person, but over the phone I apparently have both (a) a high-pitched voice for a man and (b) phone mannerisms that strike people as feminine. (One of which, I believe, is that I am polite.) So about half of the time, talking to people who don't me over the phone, I am called "Miss," or "Ma'am" (which makes me feel old). The funny thing is that, with most of these people, I eventually give my name, which is, despite sounding like "Emily," once I spell it, decidedly a male name. At which point about half of the interlocutors get that I am a guy, some of whom apologize; but about half continue to call me "Miss" or "Ma'am." Like their initial determination that that is a woman's voice is a sure thing, eh?

So I would say that this post's point goes for voices as well as for appearances.


Posted by: Emery | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:18 PM
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I once had a nun from my old h.s. giggle and say she thought I was a boy! because I had short hair now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:19 PM
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Maybe this was the point anyway, but it just seems that the decisive reactions/judgments made do not reflect so much a lack of gender ambiguity, but a lack of comfort with ambiguity. We all just instinctively want to categorize, lump things into their boxes. You have to be one or the other or it makes us uneasy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:19 PM
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This person was lecturing in my building last year, and I ran into her in the ground floor, and he asked me where the bathroom was. I could not tell which one she wanted, so I just pointed down the hall where both of them were. Unfortunately I was walking that way, so then he followed me, and when we got to them I decided to act silly and say "There's the women's room, there's the men's room, there's the balcony, there's the chandelier", pointing in various directions.

He went into the men's room, so I thought "Aha, there's your answer". Then I walked by the auditorium and saw posters advertising her lecture, and thought "Have I just been a pawn in this professional androgyne's quest for anecdotes?"

Now I look at Wikipedia and it uses all female pronouns to refer to her.

There's another person on my floor who is extremely androgynous, more in the "It's Pat" sort of way. I do think of this person as neither man nor woman (even after seeing him go into the men's room). However, if I were to actually interact with him, I think I would quickly have to formulate an idea of which gender he was. Maybe he's female-identified as well.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:20 PM
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Digby: no longer androgynous.

I found even with her that people tended to have strong opinions one way or the other, though. Maybe our brains have a thing for binary categories.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:23 PM
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maybe not 'uneasy' so much as it requires additional mental time. The sooner you classify, the sooner you can move on to other things.

i do think the 'discomfort' thing comes in when one is decide which pronouces etc to refer to people. There a desire not to offend, but also not to make simple smalltalk always push back to make the person explain their gender identity.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:23 PM
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BTW, I now use Ri/ki Wil/chins as my model for how I imagine LizardBreath looking, after hearing all this about how she looks like a tall thin boy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:24 PM
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i image LB looks like a scruffy indie rocker who wears old thrift store suits for irony


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:25 PM
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Oh, not anymore. That was fifteen or more years and 35-40 pounds ago -- put a little fat on the broadshouldered narrowhipped skeleton, and it looks much more conventionally feminine. No one's mistaken my sex since I was in my early 20s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:27 PM
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10, 12, 13: Maybe it's just resistance to ambiguity, but people seemed to resist correction more than with most types of mistakes -- it was hard to get across the point that I was trying to explain what sex I was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:29 PM
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17: oh, I'm sure there's all sorts of societal stuff tied in as well. A large number of people probably don't want to imagine multiple categories. But I think as long as you aren't primed for it, correctly categorizing the X super rare types amongst the 2 super common types is a hard cognitive task to do on the fly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:33 PM
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people seemed to resist correction more than with most types of mistakes

Probably because it's an embarrassing thing to get wrong, particularly if you assume that gender is very easy to determine visually.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:34 PM
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Posts go up when they do

Why does LB not understand our folkways?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:34 PM
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Maybe this is a Generation Awesome thing (and I'm just hanging around with people too young for me) but I do meet some people who come across to me as really androgynous, and I find that I don't think of them as male or female. (Cute, though, I find that I often think of the ones I know as cute. But too young for me.) A lot of them are trans-identified, but I find I'm not always sure which way they're transitioning, and they describe themselves as "trans" rather than as "FTM" or whatever. And then there are just some punky-rocky types who aren't trans but who aren't obviously gendered. It has a lot to do, now that I think about it, with self-presentation. They mostly mix signals pretty completely or else don't tend to give many of the obvious gender signals. Or maybe I'm just oblivious, I don't know.

People used to mistake me for a guy all the time, even after I grew my hair out. It hasn't happened recently, I think, but that's more because of the gendered office clothes than anything else. And I would add that--thin and fat--I've never been exactly lacking in the chest department, so it isn't even that I have a "boyish" build. I just don't really do a lot of the female body-language things, I guess.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:37 PM
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But I think as long as you aren't primed for it, correctly categorizing the X super rare types amongst the 2 super common types is a hard cognitive task to do on the fly.

Yeah, the thing was the resistance to admitting it was hard. I was an unusual looking teenager, sure, making me hard to categorize, but people who got me wrong didn't appear to think they'd done anything difficult in assigning me a gender. While getting it wrong, they were just as sure of themselves as if I'd been a dead center obvious man or woman.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:39 PM
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And I would add that--thin and fat--I've never been exactly lacking in the chest department, so it isn't even that I have a "boyish" build.

Same here: this only ever used to happen in the winter. In summer, the tits were a dead giveaway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:40 PM
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Tit-bragging aside, how often does gender enter into the interaction directly? People may assume a gender, but they're increasingly good at shading that gender in different directions.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:42 PM
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23: damn you, tits! Foiled again!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:42 PM
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23: I found that my shoulders were wide enough that, if I wore a loose shirt, the chest was not as obvious as one would assume. If we're ever at a meet-up, I'll bring my few surviving college photos, including the ones where my friends and I all went to the big college senior dance in drag. I wasn't convincing, although that was more because Frowner-in-a-tux didn't look that different, gender-wise, from the Frowner in combat boots, fatigues and a home-stencilled tee shirt seen by my classmates every day. (Oh, and frown! I also always wore a frown!)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:44 PM
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24: My tipoff that there was confusion happening was usually being referred to as either 'sir' or 'sonny', and of course the ever popular 'Get out of here! This is the Ladies room!!' So, not much room for ambiguity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:46 PM
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damn you, tits! Foiled again!

And I'd have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those bobbling tits!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:51 PM
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It would be interesting to compare, in the cases of confusion, in what ways people are treated when presumed male compared to when presumed female. To the extent there is any obvious difference in treatment.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:55 PM
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18 is right, but also, it's been remarkable over the past 6 months or so watching my toddler daughter focus on this issue. She stopped voluntarily wearing pants sometime before Christmas, and started constantly asking and thinking about "hes" and "shes." Just yesterday 3 young guys walked down our street; she caught sight of them, but not clearly, and asked whether any of them were "shes." Just so she could keep track.

After that kind of self-programming (believe me, we're not doing anything to encourage this), I don't really see her treating "androgynous" as a category anytime soon.

And I might add that this is despite having plenty of non-traditionally gendered experiences (lesbian aunts, etc.). In fact, she's indecisive on whether she will marry a he or a she. But whichever it is, she'll know for certain.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 1:56 PM
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It would be interesting to compare, in the cases of confusion, in what ways people are treated when presumed male compared to when presumed female.

This is pure speculation, but I've wondered if people tend to put anyone confusing firmly into the male category, because the insult would be perceived as a lot worse to a man mistaken for a woman than to a woman mistaken for a man. There's the 'sick onion' guy, but I don't know any other guys who tell 'getting mistaken for a girl' stories, but I can think of a bunch of women who've been at least occasionally mistaken for men. It seems as if the ambiguity line is drawn to include anyone who's even conceivably male as male.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:09 PM
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On the tangential "kids and gender" amusing side-story, I was playing Life (the boardgame) with my first-cousin-once-removed, P, who is a nine year old girl, and was very proactively running the game (telling people, "You go now," or "Okay, you have to decide between X and Y," etc.)

So there comes a point in this game where you get married -- adding another little pink or blue post to your car -- and we get there, and she say, "Now, do you want to get married to a boy or a girl?"

She, it transpired, wanted to get married to a boy. At which point she moved her little pink person to the back seat of the car, and put her new husband in the driver's position, and explained that he had to chauffeur her, now.

P's little sister, B, is too young to play independently, and wanted to be included in the game, so my friend M and B teamed up -- starting with two pink posts in their automobile. When they reached the marriage point, they both indicated that they preferred male partners, leading to a cozy foursome. (B, who idolizes P above all things, also put the husbands in the front seats and the girls moved to the back).

The whole thing was pretty cute, though I had to rein in some comments about the group marriage.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:09 PM
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I don't know any other guys who tell 'getting mistaken for a girl' stories

I have the same experience that Emery described in 8; I am frequently addressed as Ma'am by telemarketers.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:25 PM
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You ever read old stories, or, uh Shakespeare, where the goofball plot hinges on the woman dressing as a man or the hero escaping gaol as an old washerwoman and wonder why anyone would confuse someone's gender just based on their clothing? A friend of mine had a theory that what we look for when we're guessing gender is pretty much just a series of tells: Adam's apple, facial features, stance, &c, and that if it wasn't acceptable or done for women to wear men's clothes or vice-versa, people just wouldn't have seen past the surface in the way that people today wouldn't see past the broad shoulders and short hair of LB.

"Oh, and no one poor wore makeup, so everyone looked pretty ugly."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:25 PM
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And there go my preconceptions -- I had forgotten Emery's story in only 23 comments. So it happens both ways.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:26 PM
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I'm a ponytailed guy who occasionally gets mistaken for a woman from behind, which is a data point against 31.

On the other hand, my experience is that people who do this tend to apologize profusely instead of being defensive, which could plausibly be a gender-related thing.


Posted by: micah | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:30 PM
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31: Related to the bias toward marking ambiguous people as male is the tendency to think that bi men are "really" gay, while bi women are "really" straight -- again there's a binary (straight or gay), with a bias toward identifying ambiguous cases in a way that will make them available to men.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:31 PM
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On the tangential, Rah and some friends and I went to see Day Watch this weekend. I can't really explain why this thread makes me think of that except to say that there is some degree of gender-bending.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:32 PM
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Thinking more on this: there's a person in my neighborhood and I am not certain whether this person is male or female. I would have to listen to the person's voice to tell, I'm sure of it. Face is coarse, hair is short and curly, frame is heavyset and neither particular android-heavy nor gynoid-heavy. Manner of dress is plain and shapless, and while the hands say male the the forearms say female.

I wouldn't jump to categorize this person, which would speak against Piny's claim, except that it truly bothers me that I can't tell. Not enough to ruin my day, but enough that when I see this person in passing, I'm usually thinking about it for a few minutes. Pretty strong urge to categorize.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:32 PM
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I'm not sure if Emery's story is strong evidence against your theory, LB - in a voice-only interaction, there's simply such scant information that I don't think there's even much ambiguity - you just go with your gut (ie, it's subconscious).

That said, while mistaking some guys for chicks is asking for an ass-whupping (or, rather, for a lot of blustering about ass-whupping), suggesting that a woman looks like a man is in the insulting-a-lady category, generally considered an inhospitable place to be.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:34 PM
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8 - I have had similar experiences over the phone for the same reasons. After being called "ma'am," I sometimes take my voice down half an octave to see if the person on the other end changes the way they address me. But sometimes I don't. I usually won't correct them, though, because if it's someone I don't expect to ever have further interaction with (e.g., calling a store to ask what time they close) then what do I care if they think they're talking to a woman?

As for your name being "decidedly male," what is it about it that you think makes it so? I ask because I have never met anyone with that name before, and I would not do a double take if I met a woman with that name.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:34 PM
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a bias toward identifying ambiguous cases in a way that will make them available to men

Meh, twenty years ago, or some places even today, long hair means woman. Bob Seger has sung eloquently about this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:34 PM
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Cala, is it so hard to shout "Hey lady!" right after s/he passes, and see if s/he turns around?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:35 PM
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Now, a name like Spatula, that's unambiguous!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:36 PM
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A female friend of mine (short hair, "boyish" figure) likes to tell the story of one time she was picked up hitch-hiking, and was mistaken for a male throughout the conversation with the driver (male).

The driver at some point drifts into compliments on her looks, including regrets that my friend was male not female, because he'd totally date her if she were female. The story ends with this quote from the driver: "Dude, you shoulda been a chick."


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:40 PM
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"Dude, you shoulda been a chick."

That's one of the best stories I've ever heard.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:45 PM
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Now, a name like Spatula, that's unambiguous!

Right, that's a girl. A boy would be named Spatulo.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:50 PM
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Actually, Spatulor would be kinda cool.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:51 PM
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45: And that girl grew up to be . . . Golda Meir.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:53 PM
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You think Golda Meir would look good as a woman?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:55 PM
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I used to get reactions like 36 pretty regularly to my hair. However, I now normally wear clothes (slacks, dress shirt) that are coded more male, rather than the androgynously-possible jeans and T-shirt, and it hasn't happened in years.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:56 PM
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I have a girl's name but I'm way fucking aggro.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 2:59 PM
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Huh. I've never met a chick named Armsmasher.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:00 PM
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I will fucking cut you, JRoth.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:01 PM
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31: Relates to waht i think is the best peice of evidence feminists have, which is that women wear men's clothes all the time, but men only hint at women's.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:05 PM
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Strangely, nobody ever mistook me for a woman when I had long hair.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:09 PM
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When the long hair in question is poking up out of your shirt collar, there's a lot less ambiguity.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:15 PM
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54: Oh, see, I though "aggro" had something to do with farming. Now I get it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:20 PM
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He's professing his love for Texas A&M, I think.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:32 PM
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It's funny that in response to my comment (8), two consecutive posts took very different positions on the ambiguous voice.

39 "would have to listen to the [ambiguous] person's voice to tell" if s/he were a he or a she. 40 says that voice-only provides "scant information." But if 40 is correct, then 39's strategy is doomed. Right?

In response to 41, I guess my name may not be that decidedly male. Hmm.


Posted by: Emery | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:33 PM
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You can see what you'd look like as the opposite sex here. You upload a picture of your face, tell it your skin color, age, and sex, and you can change any of those things and see the disturbingly realistic results.

When I put mine through, changing just my sex, I end up looking really androgynous (and ugly). Normally I look obviously male (and not ugly). If I tell it I'm female and make my picture male, I think it improves my looks quite a bit. It enhances my jaw line and forehead subtly.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:42 PM
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60: That was odd -- I think of voices as generally pretty unambigous. Isn't there very little overlap in pitch, like, a very low women's voice is as high or higher than a very high men's voice? I think of vocal pitch as something with a much bigger gender separation than, say, height.

My sister dated a guy in college, big muscly manly looking dude, with a very high voice. I kept on mistaking him on the phone for a butch friend of hers from her basketball team. (Seperately, he was a complete tool, but that's neither here nor there.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:43 PM
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60: I remember reading about some study being done where they changed the pitch of male and female voices to see how much the pitch had to change before the voice was perceived as the opposite as the original. Turns out the tipping points were not the same. You have to lower a female voice lower than the tipping point for male voices (and vice versa) to get the perception switch. The difference was about a (harmonic) fourth or a fifth, I believe.

But I would imagine that being able to dramatically lower your voice would be more than enough information. Half an octave is quite a lot.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:47 PM
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I think there's also a lot of culturally mediated vocal stuff confusing it; the guy I'm thinking of sounded like a butch woman, and it wasn't because his voice was low for a woman, it was mannerisms. Maybe less modulation of pitch for men? So I could see anyone in an ambiguous pitch range being perceived as the gender they present themselves as even past the crossover point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:50 PM
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LB is reverse pwnd!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:50 PM
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I'm not even sure it has as much to do with pitch as the general texture of the voice; are pre-pubescent boys, with higher voices, often mistaken for women?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:51 PM
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i'm kinda hot as a girl.

does fucking your clone, but with opposite gender, count as fucking yourself, or is it like fucking your sister?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:53 PM
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66: i was, although i'm occasionally mistaken for gay, so i might have a few feminine vocal twitches


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:54 PM
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When I was very young (the last time I remember doing it I was seven years old) my voice sounded just like those of my older sisters. On more than one occasion I took a call from one of their boyfriends and told them sure, come on over, "I" would be ready when they got there. Mmmm, evil.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:55 PM
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My body is very unambiguously gendered. In person, I've only been identified as male only once, and it was such a foreign experience to me that I didn't even realize it until 5 or 10 seconds after the misidentification happened. My name, OTOH, is a completely different story, and boy, are the assumptions underlying other people assigning me a "Mr. Nest" persona annoying.

Also, 59 is evil.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 3:55 PM
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64: One of the problems in generating convincing computer voices was identifying and accurately generating just that kind of cue. (I'm not sure if anyone's even trying to do this any more, so I have no idea if anyone ever succeeded.) Without them, you get that high-pitched but still "male" colored voice (a la the "female" BART voice), probably at least in part because of the default=male assumption in so many things. (I suppose they could take the cheap way out and work some uptalk in there to make it sound more female.)


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 4:07 PM
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Until my early twenties I was very skinny, had very long hair and sometimes wore make-up. This was a glam-rock thing rather than a conscious attempt to be androgynous.

I don't think I was ever particularly feminine, I don't have feminine mannerisms or body language, and I certainly don't have a feminine voice, but it was interesting the effect that adopting that quasi-androgynous look had. I'm not aware of any times when people mistook me for a woman up close, but it definitely happened from a distance a few times. In entirely creepy ways including, among others, someone following me home in a car once trying to get me to get in with him.

It also happened that straight guys would come on to me, knowing I was a guy, but kind of intrigued by the fact that I also looked vaguely female. Also, a certain type of girl was really into it.

The world is a weird place.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 4:55 PM
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Straight is apparently one of those words like knickers that means something entirely different in Britain. But it is a weird world.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:10 PM
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re: 73

People who'd self-identify as straight. Whether they were self-identifying correctly is another question.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:13 PM
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200% straight, maybe. (Scroll down for the relevant letter if you haven't read it already.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:15 PM
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re: 75

Heh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:24 PM
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IIRC, Piny decided against proceeding with the transition, stopped whatever measures zie was taking and is mindfully seeing how that goes.

In real life I have very rarely been mistaken for the opposite gender, except by doddery old people. Happens a lot though on the internet, even using my real name (both my forename and surname are actually gendered but that's not very obvious to people outside my own country).


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:33 PM
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77: Why, I can't imagine how a man or woman like you could be mistaken for the opposite sex with such an obviously gendered name.

"Emir" sounds quite male to me. Not sure why.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:36 PM
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Because it's a male title?

But how does a gendered surname work, unless you're Scandinavian rather than Irish? "Svensdottir" or such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:41 PM
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I knew a guy named Emir. I don't think his last name was gendered, though. (Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian doesn't put the "a" at the end of women's names)


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:42 PM
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Natargacam's wife has a gendered surname. Women in some Slavic countries have to have names ending in "ova". Russia too.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:43 PM
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(maybe not all of them end in -ova -- but if the father's name ends with -ov, the daughter's name ends with -ova)


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:44 PM
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Anna Kareninova.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:46 PM
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I forgot about the Eastern European countries. In Russian, though, isn't the patronymic a middle, rather than a last, name?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:47 PM
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If the father's name ends with -in, the daughter's name ends with -ina.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:47 PM
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That's the patronymic. The last name does change. Behold the married name of Putin's wife.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:48 PM
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The patronymic is the middle name, but as Ned says, the last names change too. And the endings are usually subject to declension.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:52 PM
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79: Basically, my confusion only works in English. But Emir's Irish, so I thought I was safe with that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:55 PM
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I think that in Lithuanian, men can have names with either masculine (-as, -us, -is) or feminine (-a, -ė) declensions, but women only have names with feminine declensions.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:57 PM
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So people in both Ireland and Bosnia are named "Emir" with gender-specific surnames? My mind is blown. I didn't know Irish surnames could be gender-specific.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 5:59 PM
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It's possible that I've just lost my mind about the Irish bit, and she's from someplace else. Or she could be Irish but with an Eastern European surname. Or there could be some other explanation entirely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:01 PM
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The Irish language version of Irish surnames are almost always gendered. 95% of them have O or Mac for men and Ni or Nic for women. There are a few exceptions with no O/Mac/whatever like Seoige = Joyce. Also a few Norman names such as Burke where the Irish is De Burca.

For example if your maiden name was Smith, LB, your name in Irish would be Eilis Nic Gabhann.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:02 PM
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Emir is a women's name in Ireland but a men's name in Bosnia? I simply must stop letting my mind be blown so often.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:03 PM
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Perhaps Emir is Bosnia's formost expert on Irish naming practices.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:03 PM
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foremost


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:04 PM
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I was never taken for female when I had long hair. Back when I used to hitch quite a bit, I met some men who thought I ought to try being bi. Just to be sociable. Thanks, no. I'll just get out here, if you don't mind.

Nowadays, when I answer the phone, there's often an awkward silence as the caller tries to decide whether I'm a human or a machine. After a suitable interval passes without a beep, they decide I might be human after all.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:04 PM
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92: I'm an idiot, I never thought of the Irish language version.

Also a few Norman names such as Burke where the Irish is De Burca.

Huh. So that's where 'De Valera' comes from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:06 PM
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I was going to ask if we didn't call that language Gaelic, rather than Irish, but found this in wikipedia:

The language is usually referred to in English as Irish, sometimes as Gaelic, or in general terms as Irish Gaelic when discussing other Goidelic languages. Gaelic is often used in the Irish diaspora. Calling the language Irish is a precise indication of its constitutional status as the national language of the Republic of Ireland, and by extension, the Irish people. Irish is the term generally used among linguists studying the language; it is also the term used in the Constitution of Ireland. On the other hand, use of the term Gaelic acknowledges the language's close relationship with other Goidelic languages and could be considered more endonymic.

Closely related languages which descend from Old Irish include Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and Manx Gaelic (Gaelg), languages spoken in Scotland and the Isle of Man respectively, so the term Irish Gaelic instead of Irish is often used when the three languages and their relationship to one another are being discussed. Scottish Gaelic is often referred to in English as simply Gaelic. The archaic term Erse (from Erisch), originally a Scots form of the word Irish, and used in Scotland to apply to all of the Goidelic languages, is no longer used for any Goidelic language, and in most current contexts is considered derogatory


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:10 PM
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And I had no idea 'Erse' was derogatory, although I guess I did know that people usually say 'Irish'. I suppose I've only seen 'Erse' as a crossword puzzle answer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:14 PM
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Ned, "emir" is only a handle. (But perhaps you're just pretending confusion for comedic purposes.) I started off commenting as "emr" but changed it because there were too many random two and three letter commenters and I didn't comment often enough to build up an identity. I didn't originally intend to mislead anyone but I did find it kind of amusing.

LB, there's a theory that it was an attempt to Gaelicise what was actually a Spanish surname.

eb, I do know a man who is probably the Irish expert on Bosnian naming practices. (Also, as Clownae will vouch for, possessor of one of the coolest business card job titles evar.)


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:19 PM
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In Slavic languages everything is gendered. So if you are talking to or about a woman, it's completely obvious which gender you are addressing. Even the numbers 1 and 2 are gendered in Czech. I suppose that makes it double hard if you don't actually know.

e.g.černy versus černa [black], horky versus horka [hot] etc

They changed the law recently, so my wife no longer uses the gendered form of my surname. I presume all the Jonesovas and Smithovas will stop using that form too, over time.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:28 PM
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What's the gender deal with "Myles na gCopaleen"?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:37 PM
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wikipedia says:

The name is taken from a character in Dion Boucicault's play The Colleen Bawn.

'Capall' is the Irish Gaelic word for 'horse', and 'een' (spelled 'ín' in Gaelic) is the diminutive used especially in female names, e.g. Róisín ("little rose") Mairín (or Maureen - "little Mary"). The prefix 'na g...' is the Irish genitive, so Myles na gCopaleen means "Myles of the Little Horses". 'Copaillín' is also the Irish translation of the English word 'pony', as in the name of Ireland's most famous and ancient native horse breed, the Connemara pony.

O'Nolan himself always insisted on the translation "Myles of the Ponies", saying that he did not see why the principality of the pony should be subjugated to the imperialism of the horse.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:39 PM
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Does the "na" there give the impression that "Myles" is female?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:41 PM
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Oh, no, I see (thanks, Wikipedia!) that it just leaves out the gendered bit.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 6:43 PM
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when I answer the phone, there's often an awkward silence as the caller tries to decide whether I'm a human or a machine.

I had an odd experience with customer service the other day. After a long fight with the voicemail system and its repeated failure to recognize my very slowly spelled out name, it transferred me to a representative. Except the representative must have been using some kind of electronic voicebox.

I was so taken aback that what popped out of my mouth was: "Are you human?" I immediately felt awful because presumably this is a person who has some significant disability, and who am I to be rudely asking it if it is human. But boy it was bizarre. The only time I've ever heard a voice like that is from people who were so visibly disabled that, having laid eyes on them, it was not a shock to hear a mechanical voice.

Somebody please tell me that voice-maniuplation is the latest anti-customer tactic of Corporate America.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:26 PM
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When I call customer services lines, I instinctively speak in a high register, because I am asking for something. This leads the rep to call me ma'am. Being mistaken for a woman irritates me, and because I am angry, my voice drops about an octave, even if I am not actively correcting the rep, at which point I get a "Sorry, sir."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:43 PM
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There is also some strange note that my voice can hit that sometimes acts as the equivalent of hitting the # sign on the phone -- it cuts off the voicemail message that I am in the midst of leaving. Very frustrating.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:50 PM
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108: That's quite odd. Is it on a cell phone? Those don't usually directly send DTMF tones, while landlocked phones do. But either way, you'd have to produce two different pitches simultaneously to trigger it. Two different pitches that aren't part of a harmonic series, either, AFAIK. I two people with perfect pitch or lots of practice could imitate DTMF well enough to fool the phone company, but one person is just weird.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:57 PM
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"I" s/b "I bet".


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:57 PM
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Witt, perhaps you are just more longwinded than you realize?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:00 PM
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I've written before about how there sort of is no such thing as an androgynous persona. In a very similar way, there's also no such thing as an androgynous body.

Marjorie Garber, I think, remarked that "androgynous" is better understood as referring to the possession of qualities belonging to both genders, rather than the absence of any gendered qualities. Instead of being non-gendered--something that's hard to imagine--androgynous people manage to embody some mixture of the two.

Androgyny is the hotness, IMO. Many of the women and men I'm most attracted to have something androgynous about them. I think it's just that mixture that pulls my trigger.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:05 PM
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Witt, perhaps you are just more longwinded than you realize?

Unfortunately, I'm only too aware of how longwinded I am. But no, this has happened in various situations (on two different voicemail systems) over a period of several years, so I've gathered a fair bit of data and it isn't happening because I'm hitting the 60-second or three-minute limit.

Pdf's comment makes me think that perhaps it is a meld between my voice and a background noise. It does generally happen when I'm on a cell phone, and the two most recent times were when there was traffic. I dunno; pitches and whatnot are not my field and I haven't the foggiest idea how all this stuff works.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:23 PM
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96 -- I wanted to follow-up that I wasn't overly offended that men thought it might be interesting to have a sexual relationship with me, but rather it was their willingness to argue with my 'not interested' that led me to invite myself out of their car/truck.

The two least convincing arguments: (1) no one will know and (2) if I was a woman you'd say yes. Of course, you owe me gave the most cause for concern . . .


Note: I wanted to write this some time ago, but because Opera mini, while fine in context, is really a bear to use while driving in town with a stick-shift, I've had to wait until now, after a late dinner, when I'm thoroughly 'Becks'd' on buffalo steaks and shiraz. Ignore everything I write from here out . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:31 PM
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if I was a woman you'd say yes

So great. You can use this in pretty much any situation. If I were better looking/taller/more your type...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:33 PM
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have something androgynous about them

The question is what. I'm attracted to the androgynous thing as well, yet when I think through the people I've had relationships with, some were, yes, objectively, physically androgynous; but some weren't. There can be an androgyny of affect, perhaps, that counters an outward masculine or feminine appearance.

Heh heh. Why do I blather about this? It's so obvious.

Oh but: I consider it the height of honor to have people reading my online writing be unsure whether I'm male or female.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:35 PM
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if I was a woman you'd say yes

"Lie back and think of England Jessica Biel."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:36 PM
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It's hard to say what the difference between "androgyny of affect" and simply not conforming to gender roles is. Then again, gender roles differ by class, and maybe we like to think that we defy them more than we do, because we're not comparing ourselves to the right kind of people.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 8:49 PM
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pdf23ds:

I doubt any of us can judge whether she or he is defying gender roles successfully, if that's even what one wants to do. It's up to others to judge that, and their thoughts will probably be surprising.

"Androgyny of affect" was a horribly awkward and unhelpful phrase. Sorry. It had nothing to do with (conscious) attempts to defy gender roles.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:04 PM
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Froz in 7 is the second person I've seen on this board who initially thought lizard was male. (The other being the courtesan who stole Emerson's heart.) I find this puzzling, since Lizardbreath is a common nickname for Elizabeth. I remember seeing it on For Better or For Worse, for instance.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:17 PM
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It took me about ten years to realize that Michael Patterson was calling his sister LizardBreath as a nickname for Elizabeth rather than just as a juvenile insult, so it's less obvious than you might thing.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 9:20 PM
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42: Bob Seger has never sung eloquently, Ogged. Nor has Billy Squier.

Two data points: Many moons ago, when I had a full head of mid-back length hair, my wife, a very good friend who was in the middle of a MTF transition and her wife were at a very nice restaurant, and the waiter came up behind me and asked "So, what can I get you ladies," before he got far enough past me to see my ZZ-Top length beard, and was so apologetic I was afraid he was going to commit seppeku with the butter knife. We were just amused.

Point dos: Several years ago, I wound up watching my other wife's two grandchildren while she attended a meeting. Baby Lauren went to sleep standing on my lap, while 3 y.o. Connor and I watched a Spongebob marathon. At some point, I said something about us being a couple of guys watching TV, and he started running through names of guys he knew. Of a sudden, I started recognizing names he was reciting, and realized he was going through the characters from Shining Time Station, but there was one missing. So I asked him, "What about Percy?" Without missing a beat, he said "Oh, Percy's a girl." Damn near dropped the baby.


Posted by: Dr Paisley | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 11:22 PM
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mid-back length hair

Which, over the years, slowly transitions to mid-length back hair.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 1:41 AM
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I'm mainly relieved at comments 8, 33, 107 etc. about being taken for a woman on the phone, because this happens to me all the time and people who know me IRL generally refuse to believe it (I look like John Bolton's mini-me). Nice to know I'm not the only one.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 4:24 AM
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My last several boyfriends (as I write this, I realize it might apply to all of my boyfriends) have not been androgynous, but lacking in some fundamentally masculine quality that I can't define. They have square jaws and shoulders, unfeminine voices, etc., but they lack some swaggering presence that defines the male by calling attention to itself. And the response seems to be that they are really hard to see. Bartenders look right through them. It takes me several dates before I stop walking past them on the street if I'm particularly distracted. It's the opposite of how people react to a strikingly masculine woman, where she seems, threateningly, to pop out of the landscape at all times.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 4:59 AM
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Bartenders look right through them.

That's a skill though. Being good at getting served in bars is partly about presence but also about finely honed bar-fu.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 5:31 AM
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They have square jaws and shoulders, unfeminine voices, etc., but they lack some swaggering presence that defines the male by calling attention to itself.

A bit disconcerting to read, as I think of myself as among the least aggressive of men, but I'm never not noticed in this way. I'd love to meet one of these guys, even though I have a bad impression of them from you, just to sample this quality, which intrigues me. I've heard spies are often selected for a kind of unnoticed quality.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 7:56 AM
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Yes, you could develop quite a phalanx of excellent covert operatives from my exes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 11:03 AM
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I think covert operatives avoid operating in phalanx formations. Covert as one may be by himself, when they start doing close-order drill, the veil has a tendency to slip.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 11:04 AM
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I just read 128 as "Yes, you could develop quite a phalanx of excellent covert operatives from my ass," which has its own charms, I suppose.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-26-07 11:07 AM
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