#Titlewatch - conclusions


#titlewatch is was an experiment examining the perception of gender and personal address, where I totted up monthly the number of times I was addressed by male / female titles in public over a year two months from April 2010 - March 2011 May 2010.

This is the end...

Given my previous form in not being able to finish things, I guess it was fairly unlikely this "experiemnt" would actually last a year. Well, correct as I decided to call #titlewatch to a close at the end of May. Mainly because I'd pretty much come to all the conclusions I needed to come to but mainly because it got quite boring quite quickly...

Having said that, apart from the usual occurrences of "sir"s, "miss"s and "mate"s, There were a couple of interesting events which pricked my gender antennae in different ways.

The first occurred one morning in early May as I was leaving the house for work. I think I must have been off to a rehearsal afterwards as I had my Flying V on my back. Otherwise I was pretty normally attired in my "refugee from Japanese indie band" look - skinny jeans, pointy shoes, lank hair, trenchcoat.

As I trudged up the street, a mother with a toddler emerged a few doors up. I often have a hypnotic visual effect on small children who seem fascinated by me. This little girl was no different. Her eyes were clamped like lasers on me as her mum fussed over her jacket zip and as I walked past I heard her say to her mum:

"Mummy, is that lady with the guitar a man?"

Mum quickly shushed her up but I turned round and gave them both a genuinely amused smile which was returned by the girl with a little wave, but not by mum...

If the first incident was funny, the second, which happened toward the end of May, was unsettling.

I'd spent a lovely, scorching early summer day yomping round various woods just north of London. It was genuinely a beautiful, bucolic Sunday, of the sort you imagine (or hope) happened a lot in your childhood. But the mood of serenity was suddenly pricked rather horribly. While crossing Cockfosters Road back to where the car was parked, a car hurtled past from behind us, dangerously fast, with a sunburned, red-faced young man leant out of the window and BELLOWING:


at me at the very top of his voice. When my heart had settled back down into my chest, I explained to my companion that Iron is short for Iron Hoof, cockney rhyming slang for poof or homosexual man.

Both incidents clealy marked me out as presenting a confusing gender image. What's interesting is the child's reaction was genuinely curious while for the ignorant, drunken scum in the speeding car I was marked out as the enemy. Someone who didn't fit in and thus threatens the blinkered and limited world which such dull idiots would like to inhabit.

For the record, I marked the first incident (toddler) as a 1-1 draw as she marked me out as both genders in one. The second (chav bigot) was 1-0 to male, obviously, albeit a male he felt in his thick, ignorant excuse for a brain, was 'playing for the other side'.

Adding those into the other results for May, here is the end result of #titlewatch for May 2010:

May 2010 Result

Male 7-4 Female


I think what this excuse for an experiement has shown is that from a distance (whether the distance is geographical or cognitive), it's possible to confuse people's hard coded internal images of gender presentation to a degree. It's like we carry inside ourselves a sort of binary code of gender perception. A memory picture where a man is taller, heavier, has shorter hair and facial hair, while a woman is slender, composed of splines instead of polygons and has long hair, only on her head.

These cultural constructs are hard to shift.

What I do then, unconsciously is blur the two images together a bit in my normal mode of self-presentation. Sometimes that creates a disruptive effect that can be like a bomb going off in the mind of the ignorant.

I suppose it's lucky that I've not been singled out for attack more.

I was having a drink last week with my friend @roseofwinter and we were talking about what happens when you get a negative reaction from a random stranger.

For her, a transsexual woman, it appears to occur with disappointing regularity, and she believes it's important to challenge those reactions in the onlooker, by reminsing them that, in her words, that the individual they're insulting or objectifying in some other way

"is a person too"

That's the most important thing I want to say to people. Those of us who appear or act different from your strict binaries - well, we're people. We are. And we're here.

I'll continue to report incidents that I think are of interest using the #titlewatch hashtag on Twitter. But for now, this is over. Thanks for listening.

Final Result

Male 16-11 Female
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