The Internet thinks I’m a girl. A grown woman, actually—a five-foot-eleven size 4, as far as I can tell. I gratuitously used the term “girl” to see if I could irritate any Virginia Slims®-era feminists who might still be with us. They used to get quite riled up about the term (“We’re NOT girls— we’re WOMEN!”).
The evidence that the web thinks I’m female is the advertisements. They’re completely inappropriate to my online behavior. Imagine I’m searching the Grainger® website for sump pumps or metric thrust bearings, when an ad pops up: “A bra so comfortable, you’ll forget to take it off!” I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t forget, and most people who know me would undoubtedly make sure I didn’t (although these days, someone might think I’m “transitioning,” and be terrified to say anything).
Another persistent ad is for “girly-girl” dresses, featuring skinny models pretending to have just emerged at a canter from a seamless backdrop into a mild head-wind, who suddenly suffer an uncontrollable urge to “wirl. I get this one no matter what I’m doing. Maybe the Internet thinks I’m an old-fashioned guy like Rob Petrie, who brings home a dress for his wife to get out of the doghouse (“Oooohhhhh, ROB!”).
It’s a mystery why I get these things. My search history couldn’t be more boringly “guy.” I search for stuff like mogul-base three-way bulbs, stepper-motor drivers, shoulder bolts, fan-fold shop towels, stump remover, and hog rings.
Some things I search for aren’t necessarily “phallocentric,” such as camera equipment, or lawn and garden tools. Maybe I’m being sexist regarding the mogul bulbs, shop towels, and such. After all, even women buy that kind of stuff— see how we men are?
Still, what is giving the Internet the impression that I’m female? Is it trying to tell me something? Maybe it wants to help me get in touch with my “confused gender identity” (which is, by the way, unconfusedly male/deteriorating), or to compel me to ask myself why I dress like a butch lesbian. Typically I wear T-shirts, work boots, and trousers with hammer loops— but I was doing it first. (Talk about cultural appropriation. Lesbians are ripping off the “school janitor” look, one of the few remaining bastions of cis masculine culture. I feel micro-aggessed.)
Since I started writing this (two months ago— look, I have a day job), the Internet has evidently changed my profile. Now I’m getting ads hawking sexy clothes for women who have, ahem. . . large cabooses. I’m not exactly trim, but I’d need to stuff a couple of hams in my pants to fill out one of these numbers. Not that I haven’t thought about it. Can you believe how much attention Kim Kardashian® gets?
What do I have to do to get my online profile corrected? I thought “the system knows more about me than I do myself.” Crap!— maybe it does, and that’s what it’s trying to tell me. Maybe I am really a female, trapped in the body of a paunchy middle-aged man. This is an existential crisis, which couldn’t come at a more-inconvenient time, because I have a home-remodeling punch-list longer than a plumbing snake. Excuse me for a moment…
Okay, I’m back. And I’m a guy again. Nothing like a few loud belches, some personal scratching, and the hocking of a loogie or two on the sidewalk to regain one’s perspective. And I’m in fighting mood. Because the Internet has decided to screw with me, I’ve decided to do a little screwing in return. I’m gonna deep-fry my online identity, until the ’net has no idea who or what I am. This might cause a bit of head-scratching over at the National Security Agency as a bonus.
For starters, I think I’m going to google Spanx®, blasting caps, fibromyalgia, welding supplies, HRT, and “how to make phosgene gas” to see if I can fool the Internet into thinking I’m a cranky, aching, aging radical feminist working on some sort of violent political statement. I should probably do this from a coffee shop on the Berkeley campus.
This could be fun. If it works, I’ll pretend to be a Norwegian curling champion in therapy for a broom fetish, then an expat Peruvian alpaca farmer living in a commune near Eugene, Oregon, then. . .