Is there a 'single defining quality' that reveals when a person's gender is being questioned? Why would one suppose that 'Are you a man?' would be any more indicative than one's own saying 'I am a man'? And if the use of a forthright q such as that is 'gendered,' can acting ambiguously be a strategem to sort out which other personas are crossed?> Part of the motivation for this line of inquiry was the following > question that Kessler and McKenna pose: > > Rather than asking people to notice or describe the typical and > atypical behaviors of their own and other gender... information > could be gathered on which, if any, nonverbal behaviors are > "conditions of failure." In what nonverbal ways could a person > behave such that her/his gender is questioned? (1978: 157) > > Rather in line with Kessler and McKenna's own findings that there > ultimately is no single defining quality that distinguishes a man > from a woman, my findings, as Shadowschild also noted, would > suggest that neither is there one single quality or action that all > by itself is a condition of failure to present either a male or > female character.
Does your participatory methodology let you separate the two uncertainties: yrs (in writing a character whose gender is either 'put on' or left off altogether) and hyrs, in reading mixed/ absent genderizing signals? If not, is there anything else to say but that the nearest thing to a person-defining quality is not gender but confidence (= not needing extra thought)?> The question then remains, ... why that is so important for > players to know? A part of that answer is simply that without an > actual body present for reference, most people feel at least > slightly at unease. Another part is that playing a character is > often a very personal experience and the IC and OOC experiences are > not that readily separable. The relation between two characters > thus implies the relation between the two players behind them. > Gender is such an integral part of how we interact with people that > its absence, or rather the uncertainty about it, causes trouble > with how we should relate and thus how we should communicate with > that other person. If the gender is not simply available, or if it > is "neutral," as is the "spivak" gender category on MOOs, then > everything we do or say needs some extra thought, since the > communication does not fall within regular, everyday patterns of > speech, as a nineteen year old male player indicates: > > ... Uncertainty about or absence of gender thus influences > communication as surely as the presence of gender does and in order > to facilitate the communication players try to resolve the question > of the other player's gender, so that they may speak easily and > in/with their habitual speech patterns.
NotesPosted 21 Apr 1999 to Cyberculture as "Re: RFC: males say blue"