Gender-Swapping Grammar Lessons

A Chrome app called Jailbreak the Patriarchy switches gendered words and makes for an eye-opening experience. Check out. I’ve spiced it up by changing gendered names, etc., too to get a better feel for how the world would look if gender switched.

I Kissed A Boy (And I Liked It)” (male singer, of course)

I kissed a boy and I liked it,
the taste of his cherry chapstick.
I kissed a boy just to try it,
I hope my girlfriend don’t mind it.
It felt so wrong,
it felt so right.
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight.
I kissed a boy and I liked it.

Or how about this headline:

Women Fall For Facebook Scams More Than Men (especially when confronted by a scantily clad male “friend”)

Or, Gina Carey gender swapped book blurbs on her blog. Here’s a sample:

THE COLOR PURPLE: Chucky is a poor black man whose letters tell the story of 20 years of his life, beginning at age 14 when he is being abused and raped by his mother and attempting to protect his brother from the same fate, and continuing over the course of his marriage to “Ma’am,” a brutal woman who terrorizes him.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a husband.

LITTLE MEN: Meet the March brothers: the talented sissy Joe, the beautiful Mark, the frail Bobby, and the spoiled Timmy, as they pass through the years between boyhood and manhood. A lively portrait of growing up in the 19th century with lasting vitality and enduring charm.

LOLITO: Hannah Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. She also likes little boys. And none more so than Lolito, who she’ll do anything to possess. Is she in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is she all of these?

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA: …As Florentina Ariza rises in her business career she whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet she reserves her heart for Fermino.

Jezebel also did a little gender-swapping on some mainstream media. Here’s a Times article on evangelical Christianity in Africa:

Traditionally, Kassena-Nankana men are not involved in everyday decision making, even about household matters. But the born-again men were forming committees, making speeches and organizing outings, fund-raisers and other activities. Tradition in Kassena-Nankana also forbids men to communicate with ancestors and other spiritual beings; only women can do that. But the Christian men were speaking directly to Jesus about their problems. She was, many of them may have felt, the first woman ever to listen.

And from Cosmo’s “The Hottest Things to Do During Halftime”:

Whether you’re a legit fan or just enjoy watching jacked girls run around in skin-tight pants, we’re psyched for football season. And to make this Sunday’s big game a little more fun, we asked women to tell us what they’d love a man to do at halftime. No surprise here — their answers all involved sex, nachos, and you in practically nothing.

Her Halftime Fantasy: “That he’ll sit next to me in a jersey and matching panties.”

And what if you need to read something on the web exactly as it was written? Why you can simply hit a key that will Jailbreak the Patriarchy to return to the world as we know it.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 22, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I find it so interesting how society has molded our mentality. We have been Taught since early times that men and women see supposed to act in two completely opposite manners. Men masculine emotionally stable beings an women, weaker both mentally and physically. We have even scribed certain colors to each gender, all of which starts at birth. Because our mentality has been shapes this way, we don’t believe that a man can be raped by his mother, as so in “The Color Purple”. It’s as if boys are stigmatized for doing things that girls would do which is seen to be te norm but, when boys do it it’s wrong. For instance, I have heard several stories of young boys who enjoy wearing clothing and playing with toys that girls are attracted to. Now when I saw a video on this I was quite surprised but, I thought it was also really cute that the little boy loved painting his nails pink. I mean, girls who classify themselves as ‘tomboys’ aren’t given nearly as much crap for it, so why should anti e else?

  2. I think that it is very telling how steeped human society is in the oppression and abuse of women that we often can’t see how horrible their treatment is until we switch up one little word, exchanging he for her. Then it suddenly becomes offensive to some people and enlightening to others. For all my life I have been vaguely aware that the term Lolita was used to describe a “loose” female. It wasn’t until I read this blog that I decided to do a little digging. Wikipedia states, “The name ‘Lolita’ has entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious girl,” and then goes on to describe the long term, systematic sexual abuse of an adolescent girl who was all alone in the world. And yet, her very name is now used to change up her vile mistreatment into an epithet for wantonly seductive females the world over. And it’s a classic? If a woman had written this about a young boy, would it ever have made it into print? Or would she have been censured for indecency? Or maybe even jailed for obscenity? That Vladimir Nabokov could have ever gotten this past the censors of his day, and the fact that it’s considered a classic of literature in ours, is indicative of the way women and girls were and still are viewed in our society: as free game for any man who has lust in his heart or in his pants.
    And it wasn’t rape. Oh no. She wanted it. After all, that one is a little Lolita.

  3. This was an interesting post. I have seem most of the movies that were gender – switched and I must say that I had a different level of compassion for movies such as, “The Color Purple.” I agree with Talya, who stated that if a boy is raped by his mother, it is far more horrific, than if a girl was raped by her father. Do you think that male dominated production companies would be motivated to sell films that are protraying men as victims?

    • Interestingly, while almost everything in the French language has a male and female form, the word victim only has a female form.

      Men are sometimes portrayed as victims of women, but a lot less often than the other way. And people are often more offended when it’s switched. There was a huge uproar over Thelma and Louise.

  4. It is strange just how odd it was to read the roles reversed for once. Our society is so used to men being the ones who want women in skimpy outfits, men being the ones who do the abusing—not the ones being abused. This just shows how much men are the ones who our society sees as being in control. Men are always apart of decision-making, men have many affairs—they are not “beautiful” or “frail.” This just shows how words can truly harm the way our society looks at women. Stories and articles and songs can continue to put women into the frail, weak position that they are in in our society—the position of being the objects of men’s affection or affliction and not much more.

  5. Although I think gender-swapping is an interesting idea, it can only merely be a step to help broaden understanding. Since most words used for gender (for example “women,” “female,” and “she”) already display some facets of gender roles as well as make women secondary citizens, it would be difficult for us to fully fathom what a society with flipped gender roles would actually be like. Sometimes it feels like women are partaking in an assimilation into the male dominant culture instead of attempting equality. It is somewhat difficult to differentiate between these for me because it seems that the rights and baseline behavior are a male defined. However, I am thinking that it varies from woman to woman.

    • Yes, because it’s all they know women are indeed largely partaking in an assimilation into the male dominant culture, though many of us are also attempting equality.

      And yes, gender-swapping only provides a taste. But an eye-opening one.

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