Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I just took an internet test to discover what gender my brain is. This test seemed reliable to me because a) it's British, and b) it's six parts.

Going in, my assumption was that my brain would be roughly 130% female because I'm told my body shape, baby-face, and negligible amounts of body hair correlate strongly with having more estrogen than a soybean field. There are other stereotypical reasons I would think so, too: I am hyper-verbal but scared of numbers; I am equally indifferent to cars and sports, unless there is a narrative to follow (or, failing that, something pretty to admire); and at times I hate myself, as female-type people are wont to do.

Speaking of which, I watched the Oscars Sunday night. The best parts of the ceremony, in order:

3) "George Clooney threw me into a pool."

2) The Horror montage, perfectly described by David Rees: "Kill Everyone with your Chainsaw … the Dolls are Alive … Dreaming of Murder … Blood and Gore Will Cleanse Your Soul … The Baby is Satan … I break your feet … eat a rat for dinner … big-ass freaky ears and eyes … Frankenstein wants a kiss … the Headless Horseman rides again … Alfred Hitchock’s “Too Many Birds” … screaming and yelling … people staring at each other …long hallways with kids in ‘em … I see dead people … bloody monsters that you have to kiss … blood coming out of elevators … rats and mucus … mouths and teeth … AND THAT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS HORROR."

1) The fact that Bigelow won for Best Director and then got to win again for Best Picture. The audience understood the moment Barbara "Liberal Jewish Feminist" Streisand walked out to present the first of those awards that Bigelow was going down in history, but the second win was still a happy shock. As Dana Stevens put it,
it's unbelievably gratifying to see a woman who does fine, small-scale work triumphing over a man who erects massive monuments to his own vanity. Bigelow's victory makes it seem like hard work is worthwhile, because someday someone will recognize it, no matter how loudly that asshole at the center table is talking about himself.
I quibble with the idea that the Hurt Locker is "small-scale." Um, it's a war movie. It's about men and guns and battle and heat and exhaustion and explosions. Did I mention men? I don't think there is a single speaking woman in the whole thing. We're not exactly talking about a well-mannered Jane Austen adaptation here.

I do love the fact, though, that in two speeches Bigelow got around to thanking "firemen" (!) and still didn't slip in a reference Cameron, her ex-husband and co-front runner. Didn't you expect her to mention him, at least? To say some cursory "thank you" for ... I don't know, something? At least I would assume that would be the gracious, self-effacing, feminine thing to do.

Back to the point: how did I fare at the gender test?

Part I was a look at spatial understanding, something about lines and angles. "If you scored 18 - 20: You have more of a male brain [emphasis added]. On average, men outperform women in this task and those with more mathematical knowledge tend to score quite high as well. In past studies, 60 per cent of the people in this range were men."

Well, that's a shocker! But it may be an outlier. How about Part II, which is more about objects changing position? "If you scored between 0 - 33%: You may have more of a male brain. Scientists say men tend to under perform in this task. The corpus callosum, the part of the brain that links the right and left hemispheres, is a fifth larger in women. This means women can process visual and other signals at the same time more easily than men. There is also a theory that oestrogen levels in women give them an added advantage in spatial memory."

Sorry, test. I scored low because I was afraid to make a mistake (points were deducted for incorrect answers as well as awarded for correct ones). All of the things I guessed, however, were right. I played it safe. What's more female than that?

Still, it was kind of exciting to be seen as male for two questions. Then the test took a turn for the physiognomical: It wanted to me actually gauge my hands, which betrayed me. My empathy & sensitivity to emotion results, which came next, were off the charts. Though I have a better-than-average appreciation for systems (for a girl), I suck at mentally rotating shapes. I must have been asleep the day they covered that in school. Oh wait! Just kidding -- they never taught us how to do that. Is this one of those "innate" IQ things?

I screwed myself by knowing significantly more synonyms for given words than either men or women are supposed to know. Come on! The word for that is not "female," it's "dorky."

To add insult to injury, the test insinuated that I am a lesbian by pointing out I like men with "feminine" faces. (Ha!)

And so I ultimately come in exactly as "female" as the average woman taking the test. Go skew their results, would you, please? Man, it sucks to be average.


sorelle said...

Ha! Totally entertaining. Though they never actually asked what sex I am, so I don't think they're actually collecting results. Balanced male/female for me (0), and the comment "Are you an engineer or do you have a science background? " (;

ester said...

Hee! Yes. Now that you mention it, the test did ask me if I did have something to do with the arts ...