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The computer thinks I need to take a trip to Sweden - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The computer thinks I need to take a trip to Sweden
A few months ago on the Quill, someone brought up a site that purported to be able to recognize from written passages whether the writer was a man or a woman. (Try it, if you'd like.) I seem to be a bit confused.

I ran thirty-three of my stories (SW and HP) through this thing, and thirty-four entries from this blog (I skipped things that were just memes or didn't have much text, and cut out the blockquotes from other authors in couple of places to make sure the results weren't skewed). Then I plugged these into a spreadsheet to check the stats.

In fiction, I come out as 38.24% female.

Less than 40%.

The stories that pegged me as a woman were
Star Wars
The Only Question (Leia interrogated by Vader on Bespin)
Whatever Comes To Us (Anakin's proposal to Padme)
Old Friends, Long Gone (after the war, Jar Jar Binks talks to the twins)
Hidden Home (A displaced Alderaanian girl is rescued from a slave auction)
Father's Heart (Leia and Vader form a friendship when she is a child)
Uprising (An abused girl calls on Vader for help)

Harry Potter
Lines of Descent (Chapters 1, 3, 4) (the relationship between Remus and the werewolf who bit him)
Of a Sort (both mixed POV chapters--the Sortings in 1965 and 1969) (a series of Sortings of various Hogwarts students--this and Lines of Descent I submitted each chapter separately, since they're mostly self-contained stories)
The Doll Army (Sirius, Remus, and Peter come to visit little Tonks)
Summer Strangers (Lily comes home for her first summer during her time at Hogwarts and Petunia is jealous)

The male ones are:
Star Wars
The Flight to Rison's Deep (an Imperial boys school is burned down in retaliation for Alderaan
Autopilot (Obi-Wan puts Anakin through a psychological test)
Storms (Anakin has visions of doom)
Sand Fair (Cliegg and Owen Lars meet Shmi Skywalker)
Dragonslayer (Luke and his friend Camie take on a krayt dragon)
Extreme Action (an Alderaanian girl during the fall of Bespin)
Going Nowhere (young Luke Skywalker meets his first Rebel)
The Smart One (Padme's childhood crush, Palo, has a meeting with Vader)

Harry Potter
Blood in the Earth (historical fiction about the Weasley family; unfinished)
Cry With The Moon (Remus talks to Harry about grief)
Invisible (James and Snape reach enough of a rapprochement for James to help Snape leave the Death Eaters)
Of a Sort: Gilderoy (Gilderoy introduces the four students to be Sorted in his year)
Of A Sort: Snape (Snape introduces the Slytherins in his year)
Of A Sort: Tom Riddle (Riddle's Sorting)
Of A Sort: McGonagall (Minerva's Sorting)
Of A Sort: Peter (Peter introduces the Gryffindors in his year)
Of A Sort: Albus (Dumbledore's Sorting)
The Hinkypunk's Lure (Remus on the first full moon after James and Lily die)
Lines of Descent (chapters 2 and 5) (Remus's relationship with the werewolf who bit him)

My writing is recognized by the parsing program as less than 40% female. I'm peeved.

But the fiction is nothing. This blog is--are you ready for it?--less than 12% female. 11.76%, to be exact.

FOUR entries (January 14, January 08, Nov 29-first entry, and March 03-second entry) clock in as female.

January 26, when I followed the liberal/conservative meme and argued why I'm conservative, was a whopping 82.09% male.


And this is where I'm not in character, where I'm using the voice that's like the one in my own head.

Lord, how I loathe these things, and all of the Mars/Venus nonsense.

I'm a girly-girl and always have been. My favorite sports are figure skating and gymnastics. I have long hair and wear flowy skirts and enjoy looking pretty and feminine. I've never in my life wanted to be anything but a woman. It's never given me serious grief, and I think we get a better deal, on the whole--we live longer, and have more choice about how to present ourselves.

But I'm trying to imagine how it would feel if I weren't happy with my phenotypic lot in life, to run these things through and get the response, when I put in that they were wrong, "This is one butch chick!" (Fern eyes her dainty little shoes and giggles madly.) How to undermine confidence, and tell little girls that the things they naturally think and feel aren't "for girls"--I mean, Good G-d! Even if this thing were 90% right (it only claims 65-66%), I'd still object to classifying something based on a trait that can't be changed, and must therefore be defined only by the individual person who bears it. My being a woman means what I say it means.

And the further reason it pisses me off is that what my blog entries tend to be is forceful and opinionated.

Apparently, this clocks in as "male." (It's because of the use of specific and object related words--articles--rather than relational ones--mostly pronouns--which confuses me.)

Weren't we supposed to not do that anymore?


EDIT: This post, btw, is 72.23% male.

Oh, and a fic I didn't test. It might be male or female; no one has checked under its Jedi robes.

Family Portrait takes place when Anakin is fourteen. He, Obi-Wan, and Siri Tachi are sent undercover to the hostile world of Malkiri, posing as a family, to discover the truth about a murder a Jedi knight has been accused of. Includes Anakin in long hair and flashy clothes... and in a regular school for the first time in his life.

Cover from TFN:
7 comments or Leave a comment
ashtur From: ashtur Date: March 4th, 2004 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
The post may have been 72% male... but the quiz is 100% gibberish :)
silverhill From: silverhill Date: March 4th, 2004 11:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
That test is a bit weird. I could understand if it noticed that women were more likely to use more adjectives, or a similar type of analysis. But the key words were ridiculous! Are men really more likely to use the word "the"? And the word "to"?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 4th, 2004 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It has something to do with a belief that women are more likely to deal with relational words (between, I guess), while men are more likely to deal with objects and actions done to objects.

It seemed strange to me.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 5th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, the old idea: men write about things and women about people. True only in a very, very limited sense - I fed some of my own writing into it, and, predictably enough, snippets from personal emails came up as feminine but every story and article I tried was male all the way. (I'm also a "Butch chick" for that matter - I think my husband would be surprised :)). Jane Austen appears to be butch as well, if it's any comfort.

It strikes me that while this thing is useless at guessing gender, it might a bit better at guessing the *kind* of writing. (Genre Genie? I like it!) I'm betting that Danielle Steel/Judith McNaught/every angstlich YA writer are a lot heavier on the personal-words than Tom Clancy or Dan Brown. It probably wouldn't work with any book that couldn't be categorized in two seconds, but it could be fun.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 5th, 2004 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)


I noticed some folks were showing up at the site thanks to your mention of it, so I popped by briefly. (I'm not much of a LiveJournal person, which is not a value judgment, just a personal thing.) Back in December I figured out how to totally fox the "Gender Genie" - I posted it on my site's message board but I should probably write it up formally.

Essentially, people who write action/adventure come out as male, people who write stories about people talking come out as female.
Thus Dickens and Wilkie Collins and Joseph Conrad all read as female; while female SF authors and most fanfic, which is simply amateur SF authors for a large part, tend to be judged as male.

What really confuses things is when you have a female action-adventure protagonist, or when all the people talking in the drawing room are men. This usually puts it at 50/50 or very close.

The gender of the author has nothing to do with it.

This is because the authors of the Gender Genie assume - as you can see by their chart afterwards - that only women write about other women (therefore the creater of Esther Summerson and the author of The Lady and the Law must be as female as Jane Austen) and that men only write about action and impersonal, "objective" things. Thus checking individual chapters of the Princess and the Goblin will give alternating answers, depending on whether they are Irene-POV or Curdie -POV...

Isolating this embedding of assumptions allows one to have a great deal of fun. I notice that its accuracy ratings have declined significantly since I posted last year on how to beat it and dared readers to go try!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2004 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: P@L

Hey, thanks for responding!

It drives me less mad to think there are two different kinds of writing out there than it does to label it "masculine" and "feminine," just because those are inborn traits and if it's a "mismatch" between your physical form and society's assumptions about it, it can be very irritating. But I think it definitely has applications in the marketing field, which has a lot more interaction with averages than judging any individual does. As much as I hate to admit it, as a librarian, I see a lot more romances go out to girls. (The converse isn't true; action/adventure is about equal. Quite unfortunately for men, more girls than boys seem to read for fun.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 5th, 2004 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


Project Gutenberg is *great* for doing this! Lots and lots and lots of texts to copy/paste by many different authors. (Baroness Orczy is male, frex, most chapters - hey, characters are guys, doing stuff, gotta be a male author, right?)

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