Topics and writing styles lead to gender stereotypes

Jillian LeBlanc , Reporter

Men and women are constantly scrutinized and compared to one another. The analysis of gender-specific traits is a topic that comes up nearly everyday. Although this topic is rather redundant, one aspect is often overlooked, which regards the differentiation of writing styles.

Each gender is assumed to have specific characteristics within their works, and yet these notions don’t always hold true. When observing articles with anonymous authors, it is difficult to distinguish the sex of the writer.

In society, people tend to generalize the sex of an author based on content rather than execution. This is where classic stereotyping becomes reinforced; one’s gender is exemplified through their socially mandated roles, rather than realistic nuances. More often than not, it is assumed that a sports article is crafted by a male, while a gossip column is devised by a female.

In today’s modern world, it is perfectly plausible for a woman to write about sports, or a man to report celebrity news, but these stereotypes are still prominent.

When reading an article about the Houston Texans versus the Tennessee Titans, a masculine voice takes form in my head, as opposed to the feminine voice that discusses Taylor Swift’s newest album.

When looking at six seemingly anonymous articles (knowing that half are male and half are female), I found myself searching for any correlation within three samples.

A big part of my sorting process involved inspecting the tone of each piece. I personally feel that men and women have rather specific attitudes, and this air comes across quite distinctively. In regards to writing, I find that men tend to have a dry and calculated outlook versus a woman who is usually more energetic and allegorical.

Naturally this assumption is not failsafe, but it helped me determine which article related to which gender.

Between grammar, sentence structure, word choice, and length, I made very little progress with the distinction of genders.

Grammar is universal. It has specific rules that should be followed, and doesn’t leave much wiggle room. Grammar has the same rules for everyone, making writing precise and uniform. Although specific grammar rules may be utilized more often while others are not, I found no unifying example.

The sentence structure essentially becomes the same, since preset rules must be followed. Therefore, grammar and sentence structure held no distinctive properties with my examples.

Word choice is a puzzling factor–anyone with access to a thesaurus can determine this. I found no imitation of terms that could possibly indicate a gender correlation. There wasn’t a single expression that appeared gender specific. There wasn’t even a relation of terms when comparing articles. Word choice is non-gender specific, making it a nonsensical point.

The length of sentences as well as the length of the article itself is another factor I observed. While I thought I found a trend with this approach, it is really too subjective to consider.

The author could be aiming for a specific word count, the article could be meant for TV (making it shorter in both length and sentence), the topic could be interesting to the author (making it longer), the author could hate the topic (making it shorter), or the article may be catered towards a target audience. All of the following factors are elements that can’t possibly be determined by someone’s sex, making this option into yet another dud.

Overall, I guessed four out of six genders correctly, despite my flimsy theories. Yet, I found that I automatically assume genders based on the topic rather than execution. Once the authors were revealed, I realized that my thought process is somewhat flawed.

I unknowingly accepted society’s generalizations, and proceeded to follow the fixed path of stereotypes and assumptions. This leads me to believe that gender, in regards to writing, is no more than a preconceived notion established from societal norms. We alienate, and limit one another by generalizing our world. We, as a society, draw a line between genders even though stylistically, writing holds no bounds.

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