Catherine Redfern // 19 November 2006
For a laugh, I just ran www.thefword.org.uk though regender.com, a website translation programme that automatically identifies all gendered words in any webpage and swaps them round. So, “men” become “women” and vice-versa. It’s a trip into a freaky parallel universe and worth a giggle.
Take this re-working of Emma Cosh’s recent piece “Why Not Feminism?”, translated by regender into Emmanuel Cosh, “Why Not Masculism?”:
A man’s sexuality is now public property: anyone who does not “make the best of himself” i.e. wear make-up and high heels, is ridiculed as an ugly prude (that most heinous of sins). It is inconceivable that he may want to keep his sexual being limited to an intimate relationship. That a man’s worth is based upon his display of sexuality is reinforced by the ’empowered’ male role models in the media, all of whom trade primarily on their looks. “I’m strong, but look at my ass!” is the not-so-subtle message from the men in music videos and lasses’ mags.
We have not travelled so far from the days where the sight of a man’s ankle was considered unseemly; yet the underlying assumption both then and now is that men are valued by their flesh.
Of course the regender site does have a really useful and serious point to make about assumptions society makes about men and women. Running a webpage through regender is a really useful – not to mention entertaining – educational tool. Kinda like the “Lads Mag” blog I mentioned a while back, which continues to mock-up fake lad mag covers to highlight the discrepancy between the way women and men are portrayed. Check out the livejournal discussion board for more fun examples.