In Which I Suffer An Identity Crisis

During an interesting discussion over at the Historical Novel Society’s Yahoo group over whether female readers would read historical novels narrated by men (I certainly would, and do), someone brought up the Gender Genie, which purports to guess a writer’s gender based on a sampling of their work. I submitted the first chapter of The Traitor’s Wife, the prologue of Hugh and Bess, the first chapter of my work in progress (narrated by a woman), and several blog entries to the test. The result? Raging testosterone, baby. Except for The Traitor’s Wife and one blog post, Gender Genie is convinced that I am a man.

This may explain why I have never understood why anyone would pay $500 for a pair of shoes, my indifference to knickknacks, and why strangers over the telephone often address me as “sir.” On the other hand, it doesn’t do much to explain my total lack of interest in sports, my willingness to ask directions, and my two pregnancies.

As it’s time to get back to work, I’ll curb my distressingly feminine tendency to chit-chat and cut this blog post short. Besides, I need the extra time to search out some Bernard Cornwell novels tonight.

15 thoughts on “In Which I Suffer An Identity Crisis”

  1. Michele at Reader's Respite

    Ha! I hear you on this. I live and work in a man’s world and have adjusted.

    But I’m reading Cornwell’s Saxon series and loving it, so there is an upside to it all.

  2. AHA! Now it’s proven… things like “Gender Genie” are bunk. Obviously their algorithms are replete with sexist assumptions… snicker. I knew it.

    A couple of Mother’s Days ago I most unwomanly cheered as my husband, who says I am woman enough for him, laid a most unfeminine gift in my hands.. a Scottish longsword.

    There is a poll about the topic Susan discusses right now at .

    Nan Hawthorne

    P.S. Susan, if you get Netflix, put some of the Sharpe movies based on Cornwell’s earlier series at the top of your queue. It’ll tickle both the boy and the girl in you.

  3. haha! That’s a great story. I don’t know what the result would be for me, but I totally hear you on not understanding why people would pay $500 bucks for shoes!

  4. I just submitted my most recent blog book review to the Gender Genie. It thinks that I’m male, but just barely (scored 1000 on the “female” side, 1100 on the “male” side).

    Huh. No wonder I enjoyed Mary Gentle’s Ilario so much.

  5. I’m totally a man, both in my fiction and my blog posts.

    May explain all those Viagra spam mails. 😉

  6. Susan Higginbotham

    Well, if some good comes of this, it might be that I start reading Cornwell.

    But I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my husband that he’s been sleeping with a man for over 25 years, especially since I’m not nearly as good looking as Piers Gaveston.

  7. I would, and do, and write them too. I’m afraid I have very little patience with gender stereotypes.

    “But I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my husband that he’s been sleeping with a man for over 25 years, especially since I’m not nearly as good looking as Piers Gaveston.”

    Try quoting from Some Like It Hot, “Nobody’s perfect!” ?

    If you feel like reading some Bernard Cornwell, I think the first Sharpe series are his best, or his Arthur trilogy if you’re into King Arthur (some of the pagan stuff is a bit OTT in my view – but the battle scenes are well up to standard and Guinevere is one of his more interesting heroines).

  8. HOLD THE PRESSES! I just had a shock.. I put a chapter of my erotic novel Random Acts into the thing…. it says a woman wrote it! I guess that’s good….


  9. I just tested it on an excerpt from my blog and also on a random excerpt from my main website. Guess what – it says I’m a man, too. I’m not! Maybe to be rated female we have to write exclusively about rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies.

  10. Well, I gave it a good testing: 3 blog entries and 4 pieces of fiction. On 6 I was a man and I was a woman for just 1. Perhaps I am a shape-shifter 😉

  11. Susan Higginbotham

    I think all of us who tested as men should get together and start a new blog dealing with our special challenges of being trapped in a woman’s body. In the meantime, I’m trying to include some more manly activities in my daily routine.

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