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I'm switching teams..maybe

aybala50's picture


 Today, my name was Jordan. I hadn’t yet decided on my sex, my age, my occupation, or even my hobbies, but I entered the cyber world anyway. “Jordan’s a good name,” I thought. I chose it because it’s one of those ‘gender-neutral” names. I had a bit of hope that I could be a part of a conversation in which there was no effect of a social construct of the gender I am. I thought that maybe someone wouldn’t ask me if I was female or male and just have a conversation with me. The instant I signed into the chat website I had someone who wrote me. I wouldn’t consider it an awful start, but it was not what I was hoping for. (Again, today I was Jordan)


Wayne: hi
Wayne: age plz
Wayne: well…
Jordan: 21
Wayne: were from
Jordan: Philly
Wayne: u be female
Wayne: well
Jordan: yes
Wayne: u alone?
Jordan: yes
Wayne: wat u wearing?
Jordan: would you be asking this if I had told you I was a guy?

Wayne Has Left The Building!
This was the message given on the website when the person loses interest in talking to you. I had about 10 different conversations over a period of 2 hours, and I got this loss of interest fairly often. I hope that it wasn’t anything that I said. Thought #1- was Wayne too lazy to bother with a conversation with me about his practice of finding women online? Or, was it that he was bothered by the thought that he may be talking to men who pretend to be women? Has he ever even thought about this? As Wayne, “left the building” I never got a chance to ask these questions.

            Ok, so, it wasn’t the best start. Maybe if I play into the role of the ‘online chatter’ better I will be able to carry on a conversation for longer? Here is guy number five that I chatted with. This time I tried to contain my sarcasm for a bit longer…at least I did better than Wayne…


Stevie1: hi
Jordan: hey
stevie1: age plz
Stevie1: u f or m
Jordan: 21
Jordan: f
Jordan: and you?
stevie1: where from?
stevie1: 36 uk
Jordan: Philly
stevie1: u alone?
Jordan: yeah
stevie1: wat u wearing?
Jordan: clothes
stevie1: wat sort
Jordan: and you?
stevie1: boxers, u?
Jordan: more than that
stevie1: wat then
stevie1: well…
Jordan: do u ever wonder if u r actually jacking off to a guy talking or a girl talking?

                                                                                stevie1: fu*k you!

stevie1 Has Left The Building!

I felt like I was being interviewed in order to be eligible for an online chat with a stranger! Stevie1 had different interests than I did, but his questions were the typical format my conversations followed. The automatic questions, it seems, were about my sex, my age, and my location. Which explains my confusion over “asl”, a term used by most of these online chatters I talked to. I didn’t know what this meant, but according to a friend it stands for: age, sex, location. What is it that drew these people to be so curious about these topics? Considering these chats an online hobby they really could never know the answer to these questions for sure.

            I didn’t only talk to males, or rather those who said they were male. However, they did make the most interesting subjects. Even with a gender-neutral name, only ‘men’ and not a single ‘woman’ approached me. What does this say about the division of sex on a chat website? Is it that men have a certain characteristic of being those who approach, and the women have a characteristic of being the one’s who are approached? How similar is this to real life? Traditionally speaking, a man would court a woman…how much of social constructs have transferred themselves into this cyber world?

            At this point I started thinking about my freedom. I was free to do anything, so I decided to take initiative and approach someone whose name I found interesting: NoName93. Can you believe it!? Maybe I found someone who had something to say about a username and it’s effects on a chat website, or maybe it was someone who was tired of being harassed for being female? Turns out, it was neither. When I asked, NoName93 responded: “well I chose NoName bc I had no idea what name to choose :P I coul’ve chosen my own, though…”, which then led to an interesting game of guessing my, Jordan’s, gender! After this the first part of our conversation went something like this:

NoName93: but if you want to know my real name…just ask :P
Jordan: what’s your real name?
NoName93: Celina
Jordan: How old r u Celina?
NoName93: 17 : ) you?
Jordan: 21
NoName93: niiiiceee : )
Jordan: do you go on chat websites often? : )
NoName93: no actually not, a friend of mine recommended this website to me, so I just wanted to check it out : )
Jordan: this is your first time?
NoName93: yeah on this website. But I’ve been on omegle before, though…how about you? Are you often on these websites?
Jordan: used to, not much ne more
NoName93: why not? : )
Jordan: because there are a lot of creepers..since you’ve signed in how many people have asked you if you are an f or m?
NoName93: yeaaaah I’ve noticed…a few people who chatted to me some minutes ago…uuhh:S
Jordan: what did they ask?
NoName93: they asked me if I was a virgin, what I was wearing etc…
NoName93: well I am female..and you? F or m?

NoName93 was the first successful connection at a conversation. What should I do? Am I female or male? I didn’t want her to lose interest, but I wasn’t ready to decide. So, I did what any great ‘think on the spot person’ does…I refused to decide and didn’t answer…well, not really.

Jordan: f or maybe m..I guess you can never tell on these sites
NoName93: yeah…and you never know if you can trust the person or not…creepy that way…ut you can meet lots of nice ppl here as well: )
Jordan: ok
NoName93: so where r u from?
Jordan: first tell me…do you think Im an f or m?
NoName93: haha…umm…well you haven’t told me so much about yourself yet through…so don’t be mad if I’m wrong, ok? : )
Jordan: ok, I won’t be mad
NoName93: weeeellll…uhhm…I really don’t know…uhm, male?
Jordan: hmm, how about we keep it a mystery and you guess again at the end?
NoName93: hahahaha funny : ) ok then:P

So, the games began. For about 40 minutes I talked to NoName93, the 17-year-old Dutch female. I wanted to see what she would think about my sex after talking to me. I also wanted to see what it would be like to talk without having my sex being a part of the conversation. So, she told me a bit about herself and I told her a bit about myself:

NoName93: I’m from Norway, I’ve never been to the USA and I hope I can go one day
Jordan: so, what kinds of things do you like to do?
NoName93: well, I like to spend time with friends mostly : ) and I also like to go to the cinema, I am attending dancing lessons, I play tennis and I go snowboarding in the winter…and you?
Jordan: great list…umm I am in uni…I play rugby, I like to read, used to play soccer, hang out with friends, bad habit of smoking, love movies, and I wanna work with kids when I graduate

And, this was enough…at least enough for her to decide on my sex. This was the complete extent of information I gave her about myself. Then, I asked her again:

Jordan: …do you think I’m a man or a woman? Be honest
NoName93: a man
Jordan: and why?
NoName93: uhm…cause you play rugby :P not that woman can’t…and you used to play soccer…well, are you?
Jordan: and I smoke, haha
NoName93: haha yeah
Jordan: so do I talk like a guy?
NoName93: well I don’t think you talk either like a guy or a girl…it’s not typically girlish or boyish…I think…
Jordan: you said everything I do can be done by a woman…then why did you peg me as a guy?
NoName93: well…cause I’m a girl and I thought it was funny you wanted to guess if you’re a girl or a guy…: ) I’d never come up with something like that :P
NoName93: if you’d say you loved dancing, drawing, and horses…I’d probably be pretty sure you were a girl

            So, I do stuff that both a male and a female can do, I don’t ‘talk like a guy’, and yet, I am a guy. NoName93’s confusion about my sex did not cause her any distress. Yet, in reality, the issues that come up with the topic of sex are much more complicated. People get uncomfortable when they are around someone whose sex they are not sure of. There’s an anxiety, nervousness, a fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. While I was chatting online, despite the several uncomfortable conversations, I felt free, at least more so than I feel in reality. I’m sure this freedom had at least part of its source in the fact that I could hide behind words; I didn’t have to show my face, or be in close proximity with someone while talking to them. However, a great source of this freedom came from the ability to be whoever I wanted to be. I could be a man, a woman, an 18-year-old, an accountant, Italian, or even a clown. I could be absolutely anything I wanted and no one would care.

            I am contemplating a permanent move into the cyber world. I know that there are negatives, but I want freedom, as many people do, from the expectations I am supposed to fulfill. As a woman, I have been told to love men, I have been told that I can’t wear certain clothes, I have been told to believe in a certain god, to be pure, to be soft-spoken, to serve men drinks when they visit my house, to wash my father’s laundry, to be home before dark, to give up a sport because of it’s inappropriate nature. This is one experience and one that has been escaped. While I fear this closeness to technology that humankind has accomplished, I am still attracted to it. I want to be separate, yet with it. I don’t want it to take over me, but I want it to be a part of me. I am still hesitant of this move, however, because despite the greater freedom, and the greater comfort, society and its expectations are what make up the cyber world. I will still be judged, just in a new and more technological way. 


Chat site used:

Photos (in order they appear):


Liz McCormack's picture

information dances

How interesting....  I want to ask a bunch of questions.

Did you feel safe?   physically and psychologically?

How did it feel to be "left" once you did not  "play" by the rules?

Whose rules are they? Do the Ms set the rules in cyber space chat rooms? 

Your point that the roles of gender engagement in the real world carry over into the cyber world makes sense.   I was struck how the M/F binary clearly rules the day on chat sites, seemingly more than in the real world.  What are the differences in the two worlds that could account for this?

Hmmmn, what was the role of information in all this?

Remarkably, by withholding information you made space for more informational exchange, it did not shut down the exchange, rather it enhanced it.   So some information is narrowing, some broadening.  Maybe this is what Haraway was trying to say about binary categories as a form of information.  Binary categorization does not generate any new thinking, new ideas or surprising results.  Learning can't take place.  This project is a creative but also concrete illustration of Haraway's abstract concept.

It was most interesting to see!



Apocalipsis's picture

Just have to say- your

Just have to say- your project was super creative and fun. I'm looking at our peers papers trying to different ideas as to how to incorporate technology into our next webpaper, and I was very interested to find that you interacted with people beyond our immediate college community. Your project was insightful in highlighting major points of the reading we did last week.