Ask a Woman Who Knows, Ctd.

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by Shani O. Hilton

A couple of people pushed back on yesterday's post on Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton to assert that women care about babies and weddings, which is why people ask women about them. sethblink wrote:

[B]lame the media or society or the sexism of men all you want for the presence of questions like this on shows that proport to be about news, but the real reason anybody ever asks these questions on TV is that by and large, women viewers find this stuff interesting.

Incidentally, today I checked out Google's ad preferences, which has determined, based on the sites I visit, that I am a man. It's an algorithm, which is science! So, assertion proven, right?

shanigoogle1.jpg Except, here's the thing that's weird: Despite the fact that more than half of my searches are related to arts and entertainment, celebrity news, womens apparel, and beauty/fitness (all of which are CLEARLY LADY CATEGORIES) Google still says, "Based on the websites you've visited, we think you're interested in topics that mostly interest men."

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it that the law/government/politics sites I visit are more heavily weighted than the Ryan Gosling-heavy tumblrs? Is it that rock music is "male"? Would I have to visit baby naming websites to get categorized as having female interests?

Ultimately, this is the problem that I have with the "hey, but ladies DO like babies!" argument. Sure, some things I like are gendered. But who decides what's male and what isn't? Why are babies and weddings—things that men and women go halves on—inherently female? How are attitudes that maintain the femaleness of love and reproduction anything other than a product of sexism? (Note: not all weddings or babies come out of hetero partnerships, of course.) I reject that it's because women and men are just "different" that way. Do better, explainers.

(Oh, you can find out what gender you are here.)

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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