Esquire Follow Up

Recently I wrote about an Esquire reading list that contained 75 books, 74 of which were authored by men. In my brief discussion, I mentioned the idea of gendered writing. Since then I’ve been directed to “The Gender Genie,” a computer-based algorithm that its creators reckon can determine author gender with 80% accuracy. Various words, it supposes, are used primarily by one gender or the other. According to Alexander Chancellor in The Guardian:

One of their findings is that women are far more likely than men to use personal pronouns (“I”, “you”, “she”, etc), whereas men prefer words that identify or determine nouns (“a”, “the”, “that”) or that quantify them (“one”, “two”, “more”).

Interesting stuff. I tried it out on a range of my writing and it was only right half the time.

In related news (again from The Guardian), the Nobel laureate, VS Naipaul, recently said, “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” Naipaul goes on to argue that no woman, even Jane Austen, is his writing equal. This outburst has caused somewhat of a furore over in Britain, where he is more widely known than he is in the US. Needless to say, the man is clearly deluded, blinded by ego and hubris.

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