Tenured Radical, tired of Facebook ads targeting her with weight loss programs and anti-wrinkle cream, decided to remove her sex from her profile.  Lo and behold, Facebook saw her bet and raised her.  Now, she reports, each time she clicks on her profile page, Facebook asks her to identify herself as male or female.

I tried it.  Here is the pop up:

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Tenured Radical’s report is confirmed!  Facebook is programmed to nag you.  It is so “confusing” when you refuse to be stereotyped according to your sex.  Facebook needs to know because how else would it know if you wanted to buy wrinkle cream!!!  Aaaaahhhhhh!!!

Tenured Radical writes:

What a hoot. And I have to hand it to them, the tone is perfect: friendly, non-antagonistic, encouraging. I imagine it’s how people might talk to me if I were on a four-day crying jag, or had had a terrible nervous breakdown, or were crashing after a methamphetamine binge. I imagine myself wrapped in lovely warm towels, on soothing drugs and in a pink room with soft music playing in the background. Nurse Ratched is smiling encouragingly with a big, whacking hypodermic in one hand, trying to encourage me in the least threatening possible way to remember what my gender is or to commit to a gender at least, even if it’s not one we can agree on. “Because you see, dear,” Nursie is saying in my imagination; “People may be confused…other people are, well, upset about this, and if you could just answer the question it would be so much better for them.”

Visit our other post on Facebook’s use of a (white) masculine avatar for all subscribers without photos and our post on avatars, gender, and neutrality more generally.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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