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Facebook's gender blunder

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Jul. 10th, 2008 | 01:15 pm

I've had my gender as "Select One" on Facebook since I first signed up. I have a few other friends that have it that way too. The only effect it really has is that your gender is not displayed on your profile, and that when you do certain things, the mini-feed uses a gender-neutral plural:

facebook gender

Recently, however, I guess facebook decided to address this oversight. Today when I logged into my facebook homepage, I received this message:

facebook gender

I can't imagine what they hope to accomplish by this. I don't think that most users will react with "Oh thank god, now my friends on facebook can know what gender I am, I can't believe I forgot to fill that in." There are many users like me who find Facebook's sex & sexuality options limited. I actually use the SGO application to put a box on my profile that's more informative, and in that box, yes, I do identify my sex as female. But that's hardly the point. I generally identify with "not otherwise specified" and I feel I have a right to straddle the line, if I please.

So luckily, you'll notice, facebook prompt has a third option, which is the one I'll be picking. It's "close".

Update: I've made a facebook group encouraging people to switch to an unspecified gender. This should be interesting...

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Comments {15}

cupcake is sleeping

(no subject)

from: icis_machine
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)

in the 90's uni's went out of their way to be gender neutral with their. in the 00's, they want proper grammar so its back to using "he/she" or simply she or he.

perhaps facebook has a grammar nazi in its midst.

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from: mechagojira
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)

It's true, I do wince a little whenever I see "their" used as a singular pronoun. But I don't work for facebook.

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from: _tove
date: Jul. 11th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)

If you're interested in reading some genuine crotchety descriptivist grammarians on the subject of singular "they," you might like Language Log. Here is a general article about the topic, and here is one about Facebook.

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from: latemodel
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)

If you're such a grammar nazi that common usage doesn't matter, shouldn't you just use "hir"?

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