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[Inspired by a Facebook comment by a friend and a reply he received. The first two lines are paraphrased from that discussion; the rest is my invention]

BOB: "I don't like 'men'/'women' options on medical forms. Can't I just check off the questions that apply to me?"
ALICE: "Let's just have more options. After all, men and women have different health concerns and we can't track that if we don't know what someone's gender is."
BOB: "Just to be clear, when you say that 'men and women have different health concerns', do you mean that there is a set M of health concerns for men, and a set W of health concerns for women, and that men share the concerns in set M, while women share the concerns in W, and the contents of M and W are disjoint?"
ALICE: "Yep!"
BOB: "Well, I'm a guy, but one of my health concerns includes the fact that I need to get regular Pap smears, which I suspect you wouldn't include in set M."
ALICE: "No, I wouldn't include it."
BOB: "So...?"
ALICE: "When I said 'men' and 'women', I really meant regular men and women. Of course, you know what I mean."
BOB: "No, I don't know what you mean. You agree that I'm a man, right?"
ALICE: "Of course!"
BOB: "So when you say that 'men have health concerns that don't include Pap smears', do you mean that since my health concerns do include that, I'm not a man?"
ALICE: "No, of course not. But you know what I mean."
BOB: "Are you saying that I'm a less typical exemplar of the category 'men' than is my friend Ted, who has a prostate and doesn't have a cervix?"
ALICE: "Of course I'm not saying that! That would be wrong."
BOB: "So if I'm just as much of a representative of 'men' as is Ted, why does 'men's health' refer only to Ted's health and not to mine?"
ALICE: "..."
BOB: "I mean, you don't like it when people claim that 'he' is gender-neutral in the sentence 'Everyone must tie his own shoes' while the same people would never write the sentence 'If a person is pregnant, then he should take folic acid,' right?"
ALICE: "..."
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 17

This imaginary conversation is about:

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12 (70.6%)

11 (64.7%)

semantics (as in, what words mean)
12 (70.6%)

semantics (as in, stuff I don't care about)
0 (0.0%)

decentering the discourse
8 (47.1%)

politically correct fascism
2 (11.8%)

6 (35.3%)

none of the above
0 (0.0%)

Where is Carol in all of this?
6 (35.3%)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-06-07 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rho
I recall an instance in the past when I was enrolling at a university and part of that involved speaking to the campus doctors for a bit, and being handed various information packs which included a "health for women" pack and a "health for men" pack. After some discussion we determined that in all likelihood neither pack would be relevant to me, but I may as well take one of each, just in case.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-06-08 12:07 pm (UTC)
ptc24: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ptc24
less typical exemplar

So, there are sets of health concerns that could affect various people, as influenced by their lifetime exposure to testosterone, estradiol and various surgeries. Different people have different sets of these; for example the set of concerns that affect a young cisboy is not the same as set of the concerns that affect an old cisman. You could calculate the similarity of these sets by some similarity metric - the Jaccard Coefficient or TF-IDF[1] weighted cosines spring to mind. You could select a typical exemplar man by, for example, selecting the man with the highest mean similarity to other men.

It seems likely that in such a model, Bob's set would have a higher similarity to the exemplar set than Ted's set would.

[1] You'd have to reword it slightly, as people aren't documents, but the maths should be portable.


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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