Aug 14, 2009

The Feminine Voice Revisited

I live in a dazzling hall of slightly distorted mirrors. I find reflection interesting and necessary, and am willing to pay for the view with the odd token of self doubt. Periodically, I will receive some unexpected validation from a kind stranger or a near and dear friend, and that has the effect of helping me enjoy the bigger, fuller outward view. Sometimes, though, I very cravenly seek the validation myself which is a strategy fraught with downsides. Like so:
  • Positive feedback is cheapened because you asked for it, and
  • Negative feedback is amplified because, well, you really did ask for it.

Nonetheless, and knowing well the stakes, I did it again. Faithful followers of these Voyages en Rose may remember the little language exercise I conducted with

GenderAnalyzer.com late last year (here), and earlier this year (here). The Gender Analyzer prompts you to pop your URL into a query box, click something or other, and in about the time required for a single carefully executed nail polish stroke, presto, a quick, and in my case, flattering guess as to the gender of the author of the content on the site.

The last time I mentioned (ed. plugged perhaps?) the Gender Analyzer here, Jon, one of the authors of the sites code was good enough to drop a line about how his digital diviner tells the X’s from the Y’s from a literary perspective. Per Jon:

" Basically it looks on word usage, not sentences. The classifier core is a naive Bayesian classifier:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_Bayesian_classification."

I had been hoping to find out that there was something in sentence structure or grammatical conventions employed by the author that would act as reliable “tells”. Failing that, perhaps a lack of profanity or obviously macho swagger in the language in general might tip the scales. Alas, that algorithm does not yet exist, or is only in use at the National Security Agency where it can do no possible good.

I suppose therefore, that any blog that has 103 instances of “pantyhose” (out of a nail-chipping 56,024 blogged words to date) would likely be assumed by a Bayesian Classifier (na├»ve, jaded or in between for that matter) to be authored by a genetic girl. So big whoop for Petra. I have fooled the analyzer now 3 whole times.

Interesting to your author and editrix though is the news is that I am fooling it better and better each time out. In December, 2008, a very young Petra was felt to exhibit a 68% likelihood of being female. Fast forward to Feb 2009, and Gender Analyzer had ratcheted me up to a 74% certainty of femininity. Yesterday, Voyages en Rose strolled calmly and confidently past the gender cops baring a little thigh without getting clocked, and in fact eliciting an 82% salute which I have to tell you feels to me as though I have just been hit on, and very nicely.

Oprah gets a 72%. Oprah! Cosmopolitan scores 66%. Cosmo! Petra, 82%. 82%!! So hooray for me! Or not. You see the better parts of me really don’t care.

I Cross Dress to look and feel differently beautiful for myself. It is greatly rewarding that I am able to do it well enough to mix with the bigger brighter world outside of my dazzling hall of mirrors from time to time. There is positive affirmation in doing so.

I Write about the experience to help me feel and understand Cross Dressing
just a little better. And it helps, truly it does. Importantly though I have met so many nice people here, and learned a great deal from you in the bargain. I know from your visits and notes that we share something wonderful, and are far from alone. Again, more beautiful vistas beyond our private spaces.

So, I think I will leave the Gender Analyzer alone in the future. The real objective should not be to fool anyone or anything. The real objective is to express ourselves fully. Mirrors be damned.

But do allow me one last bit of fun. My politics were referred to in the recent Givenchy
post. Liberal is the easy word I suppose. So in a moment of idle devilment, I ran notorious right wing commentator Ann Coulter through the Analyzer. 64% male. I laughed out loud. So go ahead and check your own blog, or other sites of interest, and please leave comments as to your findings and views.

Politics again in this weeks poll (over on your right darlings…). The classifications are far too simplified, and far from standard, but please pick the one that best describes your leanings. I promise not to think of you as smoldering hot liberals, or ice cold conservatives. If you feel attractive to yourselves, you are attractive to me. Results and commentary next week.

Happy dressing, and happy everything else….. Petra

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