Monday, February 8, 2010

Does the perceived gender of the author influence your reading, interpretation, enjoyment of the work?

Take for example a gender-neutral name, either initials or a first name that is both female and male (like “Kit”).

Approximately 2x a month through an online poetry group, I digitally meet “sparrow” (no first/last name with email address). “sparrow” emails me, “Kit, I poked around your blog. You’re a woman! I thought you were a Massachusetts attorney.” Mmmmm. What does that say about my poetry – tone, subject, line breaks, heart and sinew?

Now, I take a bird-level view of “sparrow” and ascribe an amazing vocabulary and wit to this passerine. If you pin me down, I assume “sparrow” is male having read the poems circulated to the group. I share this with a poet friend. She’s sure “sparrow” is a woman based on the email address. Mmmmm.

Via email this evening “sparrow” confesses gender. I’ll leave that in the nest, for the time being. Of being, everything matters and is of.

Mmmmm, now, on to food. Yin/yang. Hot/cold. Is there gender-neutral food? Perhaps, toast. Yes, definitely, toast. Hold the jam.

1 comment:


    The guy walks out of the bookstore and puts his gloves into his helmet. He's headed for my class. The girl walks up from the bus stop and puts her hands inside her pockets. She is always late. They arrive at the same time and he holds the door for her. She sits next to the door and he walks to the front of the class and opens his book.

    On the way out of the class she waits for him and holds the door open. He takes his gloves and helmet and hands them to her. She puts on the helmet and walks with him to the bookstore. She climbs on the bike and he climbs on behind her. They take off down the hill, laughing. Only one of them turned in their homework.