Porcupyn's Blog

November 4, 2009

What’s in a gender?

Filed under: Humour — Porcupyn @ 10:34 pm

Well, plenty, as a friend’s wife found out (she probably already knew it, but now she has practical experience plus proof). As a serial joiner of social networking sites, one day she found herself in hot water when she signed up on one specific site; her mailbox was suddenly bombarded with e-mails from dudes wanting to friend, or befriend (for those who are sticklers for authentic English grammar), her.

Finding herself suddenly elevated to the status of an Indian Nobel laureate – and having meagre resources to deal with the issue at hand by herself (her spouse, i.e., my friend, totally distanced himself from the issue, very unlike this dude) – she suddenly had a brainwave. Unlike our friendly Nobel laureate (who could not unNobel himself), she just changed her gender*. Voila! No more e-mails!! 😉

Wait! There is more (history). When I heard her story, an old wound came alive. Almost two decades ago (give or take a year or two), I had struck up a good e-mail friendship with a girl who lived far, far away from where I did. Now, as all you readers are probably (hopefully) aware, I am 100% certified male. However, as a South Indian, my name can be confused as a girl’s name – especially by folks who are not South Indians (and even by some South Indians). In those days before www, there was no way of knowing the gender of a correspondent unless he/she specifically (and truthfully) volunteered that information.

As most of our correspondence was related to old film songs and FOB kinda stuff, I did not see any real reason for me to specifically proclaim that I was/am a male. Not only that, I thought that I had made specific references to my short hair, my moniker (Porcupyn) etc that I thought was sufficient for her to realize my gender.

And so it went on for some time. One day, for some reason, I said something that was specifically male. I have no idea what it was that outed me. Anyway, at that point, it became obvious to me that she had no idea until that time that I was actually a male.

Obviously, I did a ROTFL right there and e-mailed her what I was having a paroxysm. I don’t know whether it was the ROTFLing or the fact that she felt deceived – though I still don’t know why she should have felt that way – but I never heard back from her since I sent that e-mail.

Tejaswini, wherever you are, I think you owe me one big apology! 🙂

* = online profile only!!



  1. Hmmm…agreed that gender shouldn’t matter in conversations. To me it doesn’t — esp now that I’ve traversed a long journey from my 19th birthday! What is disappointing in offline or online conversations at any point of one’s life though is figuring a completely contradictory trait after a long interaction. One’s trust in social networking dwindles dramatically.

    Your experience of losing a friend should warn your readers against building multiple identities. It’s better to say and reveal little than say a lot and reveal little…

    Comment by Jyoti — November 10, 2009 @ 6:34 am | Reply

  2. Jyoti:

    “What is disappointing in offline or online conversations at any point of one’s life though is figuring a completely contradictory trait after a long interaction.”

    True … I had a ‘phriend’ once who regularly raved about Carnatic classical music etc. (in my presence at least). It turned out that he had a lone Carnatic classical cassette out of his collection of over 100 (I am talking of an era before WWW/iPod etc, when your music was measured in cassettes, especially as an NRI with no access to desi music on radio either). Had he not mentioned Carnatic music at all, this fact would have been no biggie (though it would have been very contradictory had he grown up in, say, Chennai or Madurai – he had not). Needless to say, my guard was immediately up.

    “Your experience of losing a friend should warn your readers against building multiple identities.”

    It is not good to build multiple identities, but saying that my experience should warn against them is unfair, because I did not make up multiple personalities in this example. I gave my complete correct name as spelled (granted, I did not put ‘Mr.’ in front of it, because I did not see a need to).

    As far as revealing is concerned, when you get acquainted with someone, you don’t immediately reveal everything about yourself the first time you meet them; I mean, how could anybody do that? It is gradually that you can build up trust (a two-way street), and I guess when you are married, that is when you have to have maximum trust in your spouse. Here’s what Rads has to say about trust.

    Comment by porcupyn — November 11, 2009 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

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