"Women Are Not Men," Continued

An interesting followup to our recent “Women Are Not Men” podcast, from a listener named Misty Touchette. This incident might more appropriately be called “Men Are Not Men”:

I have two female friends that are about 30 and 55 years old.  They don’t know each other and have very different backgrounds.  A few weeks ago, both gleefully told me about their new Facebook accounts.  They’d made them under the guise of men.  Both chose a similar figure head: a photo of a white, attractive man. The reason? They were tired of being unfriended by issues/cause/political groups when engaging in … civic discourse.  When presenting themselves as women, their comments, even simple statements of alternate opinions on a topic, were flamed, trolled or deleted and then, of course, they were booted from some pages.  

I realize that women penning under a man’s pen name is nothing new.  As others have before them I’m sure, my friends have reported that the new manly persona are yielding an increase in support, silence/tolerance replacing backlash or a return in civil discourse.  After listening to “Women Are Not Men” and considering my friends, I couldn’t help but wonder, hey, how many Wikipedians labeled as men are actually women?


I discovered this pretty early on in life and have been using male nicknames/handles on the internet ever since I was a teen. It made my life easier. First, my opinions are taken much more seriously. Second, there's next to no harassment and insults. Third, no creepy stalkers.

Seminymous Coward

Gender neutral anonymity would avoid active deceit and accomplish much the same.


It is ironic, perhaps, that when computer gaming, adopting a female pseudonym garners me, as a male, lots of assistance, instruction and free swag...all without asking for anything out of the norm.

It is even more interesting in that I just realized that some people will react negatively to this male-to-female illusion where I expect few, if anyone, will react negatively to the OPs male-to-female trickery.


That last bit should read "OPs female-to-male trickery.".


You don't see a difference between "trickery" aimed at leveling imbalanced playing fields and that which is aimed at gaining an unearned advantage?

George Elliot

I've been doing this for years.


If you attempt to engage in serious civil discourse on facebook, you deserve to be trolled.

Mike B

I wish more details were provided as to the specific groups where this was happening because I have never seen such overtly sexist behavior on any sort of group that I have participated in.

Impossibly Stupid

Seconded. In fact, I'm inclined to suggest that such hostile environments should be abandoned by women completely, rather than have them put up with the pretense of being men. Why go out of your way to stay surrounded by jerks?


I suggest a blind controlled experiment. A number of people participate in some online forums, presenting themselves as male or female, independently of their actual gender. Futhermore, the participation will be via some experimenter controlled gateway, so that the participants do not know whether they are being presented as male or female. This gateway will also allow the experimenters to edit sexist insults of participants to non-sexist insults, to maintain the gender anonymity to participants. Optionally, the participants enter multiple discussions, and may have different identities in each discussion.

At the end, the participants rate how civil the discussions were, how seriously they were taken etc. The experimenters then compare these results to the secretly assigned gender identities (and also to the actual genders of participants.)

Mike B

That would also be a good way to see if humans can naturally pick up on the gender of the writer from their writing. Currently computers can do this with accuracy rates above 80% and I believe humans can as well to some extent.

Dave F.

I think escaping stereotypes and preconceived notions is hardly the domain of women alone. Far too often have I felt my opinions on welfare, affirmative action, drugs, etc. were totally discounted because I was a white male born into middle class.

In the meantime, I enjoy reading Thomas Sowell's stuff because as a black male raised in Harlem by an aunt, then dropping out of high school BEFORE he turned his life around and went economist, he is allowed to say whatever he wants


Oh, yes... us middle class white males... if only SOMEONE would listen to us...