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Gender Clue

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Anyone else ever go along talking to someone who uses a neutral handle for months on end, thinking that person is male or female, only to find out you've been 100% wrong from the beginning? Jarring! Makes me wonder what's broken in my radar! Gives me extreme empathy for the adult progeny of the recently transgendered!

While I recognize that these are extremely delicate times, financially, for all things Chow, and while I truly do appreciate how hard everyone "on the other side of the curtain" here at Chow works, is it possible to add an item to the personal profile page where people are asked to indicate their gender? Those of us who use our real names, or portions thereof, are usually readily identifiable, despite the fact that I had a grandfather named "Shirley," but those who use "handles" can be a real puzzlement!

Anyone else think this would be useful?

  1. I don't need anyone to flag to me what their gender is, I am only interested in communicating with human beings on these forums.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      Now you've done it. You had to go and piss off every Extraterrestrial Gourmetian in the Universe. For your sake I hope the Klingon's have finally developed a "stun" setting on their disruptor weapons.

      1. re: ChinoWayne

        So much for the New Yorker Cartoon: "On the internet, no one knows you're a dog!" (Woof)

        1. Sorry, Caroline, I think I agree with ChinoWayne. BTW, my "c" is for Catherine but who cares? Doesn't make me cook any better or worse :)

          1. It's the internet. I am always telling my son that the 14 year old girl he's "talking" to might well be an 80 year old man. Even if you ask people to indicate their gender on this site, how would you know that what they'd say is true? To an extent you can't trust anyone. On the other hand, if you are having a good conversation -- does it matter?

            1. Personally, I don't find it at all relevant and I think it's generally safer to not put such questions on a profile so that users don't feel that they need to reveal any more than they're entirely comfortable with. I understand that there'd be no requirement that anyone fill out a profile (as there isn't now) but I'd prefer to leave that kind of thing out of the profile and leave it to users to ask each other if they feel it necessary.

              1. Personally, it's all about the food. One person's gender or other demographic information (age, residence etc...) are irrelevant, in the sense that the love for and the seeking of deliciousness cuts across all sorts of boundaries.

                "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are," the oft cited quote of Brillat Savarin is especially true here - we learn about fellow chowhounds through their eating habits.

                1. I'm with the majority, here. I don't need to know whether someone is male or female to have a conversation about food (or anything else). Just curious, Carline1 - it seems like you're trying to avoid saying something "wrong." So what might you NOT say to someone if you weren't sure of that person's gender?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: small h

                    Yes. Whenever I realize I've assumed someone is the wrong gender and have been occasionally interacting with them over a long period, I always worry about whether I've referred to them in the wrong gender but they were too polite to correct me and just went off mumbling, "What an idiot!"

                    There are also some discussions where it may be useful to know whether it's a guy or a girl talking. One sujbect that comes to mind is bar food. I know of bars that have fantastic food, but it's best enjoyed by a solo female before six in the evening. Stuff like that. Or stuff different than that.

                    And then the bottom line may simply be that I'm extremely curious? '-)

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Well said, Caroline! I'm also curious ;) But, if we get into gender, then I'm probably going to want to know gay or straight, black or white or otherwise, and on and on and on. My husband (hint) says I go around the world picking up people. I can find out more about people in a five minute chat in line at Costco and he would on a five week business trip.

                      And, hey, if I ever divorce my husband (again), I'm gonna be asking for those bars --- and I'll go AFTER six :)

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        I don't want to come off like I'm being purposefully secretive - I'm female, if you care. But I can't think of a time when my assumption about someone's gender has led me to refer to him or her in a certain way. In your bar example, saying that solo women might want to avoid the place after six seems like information that would be useful to many people, so it doesn't really matter whether the person you're directly addressing is male or female.

                        I'm also extremely curious (read: nosy). I sort of like trying to figure this stuff out from the way the person writes.

                        1. re: small h

                          I agree small h! On these boards you should always remember that the posts should be informative for anyone who might be interested in reading them, not just the particular poster you're responding to.

                          The ratio of "lurkers" to posters is very high -- I've seen figures ranging from 10:1 to 100:1 for online communities. Considering that the average page view per visit on Chowhound is ONE, that means the vast majority of people who visit this site are reading a specific post turned up by a search engine and may never read any other post on this site, let alone post themselves.

                    2. People think I'm a dude all the time. I think it's funny.

                      1. I disagree that it is just about the food. The Hounds are a community; and one in which I like getting to know people to the degree possible. The thread on what we do for a living got a lot of replies quickly, continues to build; and several replies generated strings of discussion. Same with the screen name thread. Eating itself is a social activity; and our insights into each other is all part of the fun.

                        40 Replies
                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Yes Sam.... you can just call me Joe.....

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            I agree that eating, cooking and reading and writing about such are social activities. Good company makes the best meal. However, I feel no desire to have my gender known or to know other's. It just makes no difference to me and adds nothing to the content of CH. Sorta like needing to know eye color. Now I can see needing to know if some was right handed or left handed (or right handed and left eyed, which I am) could matter for seating arrangements, discussions of gadgets or technique, but gender, nah.

                            And I surely don't understand the "it's best enjoyed by a solo female before six in the evening" concept at all! Bars do something to the food after 6 pm?

                            1. re: Quine

                              <And I surely don't understand the "it's best enjoyed by a solo female before six in the evening" concept at all! Bars do something to the food after 6 pm?>

                              No, the clientele changes. Bars often have people in them, along with the food & the drink.

                              1. re: small h

                                I still don't get it. Of course bars have people in them. I thought "men only" are a thing of the past?

                                That I am cluelesss indicate that I am from another solar system?

                                1. re: Quine

                                  I hope you're not mocking me by pretending not to understand, but...

                                  Some bars have patrons that are less than welcoming to an unaccompanied lady. Often these patrons arrive after 6, when the work day has ended. Perhaps this lady will be met with unwanted sexual advances. Perhaps she will be jostled repeatedly if exuberance gets the better of a crowd fixated on an exciting sporting event, when she's really just in the mood for a quiet drink.

                                  That's why.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    I wasn't mocking at all. I have never heard this, so was wondering. And the bars allow this? Is this seen as acceptable behavior?

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      I just checked your profile. You're from NJ. You MUST be teasing small h.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        Dammit. I'm from NJ myself. You'd think I'd be smarter. Or not.

                                      2. re: Quine

                                        Acceptable is such a fluid term. I don't think it's acceptable behavior, but unfortunately I don't rule the world. Some people might love a place like I described above, and seek it out. That's fine with me. I'd like to know before I go, is all. Caroline1 suggested that women in particular would like to have this kind of information, but I think anyone would benefit from it.

                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Then we'll just have to agre to disagree. Several times, I've been able to travel thousands of miles, eat wonderfully with someone I have never ever met, all simply because we have one common obsession that makes everything else unimportant in comparison. And many other chowhounds that I have known for over a decade, we barely know what each other's job etc..., but we can often guess which dish one would order and we have shared countless delicious meals. Not that we don't want to talk about our interests and other aspects of our lives, but (not an exaggeration) we haven't finished talking about the food yet.

                                  1. re: limster

                                    I don't think we disagree that much. I would look forward to those thousands of miles and that meal a bit more with people I feel I know--in part because I've lived outside of the US for so long. You're lucky to be where there are other hounds. I think if I were to have fellow hounds here in Colombia, we would also just concentrate on the food - because we would have most everything else largely in common as a background rather than something worth talking about.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Guess you need to find a new wife to chow your way through Colombia '-)

                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    I'd say CH is whatever individuals
                                    want it to be. I wouldn't be happy if it was
                                    like one of those social occasions when
                                    the hostess insists that everyone, no
                                    matter how unwilling. has to join in a game
                                    of charades.

                                    1. re: mpalmer6c

                                      I am also a little bothered by the trend at sites which encourage a lot of sharing of personal information to get a very "cliquish" and insular band of posters who only engage with one another and those who don't "play ball" by sharing a lot of their bio then get shut out of the conversation.

                                      It would be a very sad day if Chowhound and it's posters lose sight of why we are all here; to find and promote deliciousness across our cities and around our world.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        I don't mean this as a criticism of anyone; but, I don't think that that's why a lot of people are here, necessarily. I think many are looking for a community and the interaction with others much more than they're looking for anything to do with delisciousness or even food. Food is simply the convenient organizing central idea. As I say, I'm not offering that as criticism, only as an observation.

                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                          I guess I am looking at the potential downside of more social interaction and how it may impede the prime mission of Chowhound. There are many social interaction sites available on the web. I think the law of unintended consequences (and perhaps some intended ones as well) could conspire to damage CH in a way that would make it much less viable for detecting restaurant and other food finds. As far as I am concerned that would be a major mistake. Nothing is free of the "for every action there is an equal reaction" law. Only time will tell how well that reaction works for, or against, this site.

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            I agree with you entirely Servorg. I didn't mean to suggest I was in favor of what I noted, only that I've noted it. I'd prefer to let the social interactions happen when users take it upon themselves to initiate it amongst each other rather than build it (implicitly or explicitly) into the makeup of the site.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              There are a lot of hounds and lots of differences among us. Some mostly look for restaurants in their area. Others are mainly home cooks. Some look for street food in far away places. Some like to shop for new ingredients; others don't like to shop. Some like to obtain and talk about new kitchen stuff; others do not. Some eat organ meat; others do not. Some are interested in the lives of the other hounds; others are not. Diversity is a good thing, not a bad feature of CH.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Certainly I'm not and I don't believe that Servorg is for a moment suggesting that diversity is not a good thing and not a strength of Chowhound.

                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  We all came here for the food originally. Even if I am not interested in some aspect of food that another hound is, I still feel a kinship based on the larger "temple" of food that we all worship here.

                                                  So, having someone put out there on CH that they wouldn't try/be interested in someone's recommendations if they didn't know their gender, it reinforces my feeling that more social chit chat / bio details are not necessarily a positive idea for the site.

                                                  Even more information about socially relevant, but hot button food issues, can lead to very divisive lines being drawn in the sand in a place that bases its foundation on the friendly, inclusive and enjoyable trading of food recommendations that has always been Chowhound's raison d'ĂȘtre.

                                                  I have always liked that Joni Mitchell song about "You don't know what you got till it's gone." But by that time, it's too late to try and "unring" the bell. Let's not "pave Paradise and put up a parking lot." I am all for enviromental activisim and having a social conscience. I just think there are lots of other places that we can practice them outside of CH.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    On top of that, chowhound isn't built as a social networking site and serves that purpose horribly. Compare with facebook for example - a huge chasm. If we want to socialise, there are other sites that are better for that. One doesn't go to the green grocer for heart surgery.

                                                    And on the whole, the internet, not matter how advanced, is a horrible substitute for a face-to-face meal. I don't have much money, but I save up for flights for this purpose. (In fact I've eaten with way more chowhounds after a flight than after a tube ride this year!)

                                                    1. re: limster

                                                      I did enjoy learning what music CH's enjoy while cooking...and it's fun to see how quickly a list with "food" in the title can turn into a game of CH trivia...but gender as a bio field, not necessary in my book.

                                                      otoh....it still amazes me how many site talk posts have been generated to discuss changing the focus/mission of this site.

                                                      suggesting CH be all things to all members has become quite topical.

                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                      I have a couple of problems here that are making me feel out of step.

                                                      The first one is your " 'temple' of food". For me a "temple" (any religion, any denomination) is a place where thinking is "uniform" among the members, where "trust" is shared, where you can let your guard down and relax. I cannot put food -- purchase, cooking, recipes, eating out -- in that kind of category. I have to be guarded about what I buy, how I cook, where I eat, and who I trust. So I do reject your "temple" of food.

                                                      As for whether people are male or female, I think you're stretching my original query all out of proportion. At the personal level, I am not interested in a regimented academic setting in which the discussion is restricted wholly and entirely to the logic, circuits and functions of, for example, a cathode ray tube. Or a carrot, for that matter. If I want that sort of setting, I will enroll in academic classes addressing subjects I'm interested in and pay tuition.

                                                      In everyday people-to-people life, you gather a whole lot of information visually and audibly that you rarely even realize you're gathering. The timber of someone's voice conveys information. The steadiness of their gaze. All sorts of information is evaluated and ranked instantaneously when you talk to someone in person that is often withheld here. With the possible exception of when you're talking to a drag queen, you almost always always always know in a face to face conversation whether the person you're talking to is male, female, young, old, handicapped, obese, bald, and a whooooooooooooooole lot of other things your brain registers without too much interruption to your stream of conscious thought. Which is why I CHOSE to use an actual photograph of me -- albeit it is about ten years old, but hey, my camera has been broken about that long too -- and my real name. It's an intentional offering on my part to help people, as much as I can, have the information at hand to evaluate what I write here in much the same way (or at least as close as possible, given the conditions here) that they would if we were talking in person.

                                                      Knowing whether someone you are talking to is male or female has relevancy far beyond any sexual connotations that may be attached to it. For example, if someone writes to me that it's really easy to replace a beer keg in a cooler, you just pick it up and set it in place, if I know the person writing that is male, then I also know that I'd damned well better have help at hand when I TRY to pick up a full keg of beer because I'm not as strong as a guy. Admittedly, I should know from the outset that a keg of beer is heavy, but there are a gazillion other conditions under which it is useful to know the sex of the person who is sharing information.

                                                      And why you think knowing who is male and who is female will lead to "very divisive lines being drawn in the sand " is beyond my comprehension. It may be a personal issue for you, but trust me, it does not come as standard equipment for most people. '-)

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        If you think everyone in a Temple thinks uniformly you must be going to one much different than some of those I see on the news of late. ;-D

                                                        As to gathering a whole lot of information visually - like the timber of someones voice or the steadiness of their gaze - it didn't do much for the "friends" of Bernie Madoff. So the benefits of such may be overstated by a tad.

                                                        I never made the point about knowing who is male and who is female leading to lines in the sand. I did say that topics like some of the recent ones that have been discussed here, such as racism, are ones that contribute to the general chaos and animosity on Chowhound.

                                                        I did say that when someone like yourself says that they won't try out a recipe if you don't know the gender of the person providing that recipe that I can see a "recipe" for divisiveness in such an approach to life.

                                                        I also figure that if someone writes that it is easy to replace a beer keg in a cooler for home use they probably have bigger problems than the weight of the keg to deal with.

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Whoaaaa...!!! Please show me where, and in my own words, I said I will not try a recipe if I don't know the gender of the person submitting it.

                                                          Servorg, my whole problem in trying to discuss something with you is that you misquote and misrepresent with some regularity. I'm not trying to pick on you, and god knows I'm doing my best to get these remarks past the mods, but you do need to work on reading exactly what someone writes without rewriting it to your own ends.

                                                          Thanks! :-)

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            "Whatever it is, I think the bottom line is that I'm uncomfortable tasting food or recipes from someone who insists on remaining so anonymous they don't even let people know if they're male or female."

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              There is a difference between Uncomfortable" and "Won't try." Sometimes I think your real name must be Emeril, because you take so many things and "kick it up a notch!" But more like a bunch of notches. Thanks for illustrating my point.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                (Just trying to understand the rationale better.) Why are you uncomfortable in that scenario? Does that uncomfortable feeling imply a reduced willingness and hesitation to try that persons's advice? Does that override the background knowledge of the person's taste that might be obtained from the posting history of the person (they have posted many times)?

                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                  In actual fact, the source of a recipe has little to no bearing on whether I, personally, would try it. I am able to read a recipe's ingredients and methodology and pretty much know exactly how it will taste, even when I've never tasted it before. Comes from years and years of training and practice.

                                                                  On the other hand, if someone says, "There's a GREAT recipe for Xxxxx on page 112 of this month's Bon Appetite magazine," whether I would go to the trouble of looking up the recipe will have a great deal to do with how well I know the person recommending the recipe. Or to put it another way, one person's "deliciousness" is another person's garbage, and before I look the recipe up, I prefer to know whether our taste buds live on the same side of the fence..

                                                                  So for ME -- I'm not trying to foist my opinions or feelings on anyone else -- the more I know about someone who is recommending their idea of "deliciousness" (I too hate that word), the better I am able to evaluate their recommendations. AND the more comfortable I am interacting with them.

                                                                  Here's a little something I'll toss in for consideration that I've already mentioned above. Chowhound/Chow is not and cannot ever be a place where "deliciousness" can be a universal and singular topic of discussion simply because it cannot be standardized. It is like trying to build a Tower of Babel. No matter how hard we try, we cannot do it because we do not have a universal language of "deliciousness" that means the same thing to all participants. So while I can admire the fervor with which some subscribe to this dream, I can not join them in hoping it can be achieved.

                                                                  My original question as to whether anyone else feels gender identification would be helpful has been answered. Basically, there is no consensus, but the simple majority leans toward "no." Hey, I'm used to being different. It's okay. Just a thought. '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    "No matter how hard we try, we cannot do it because we do not have a universal language of "deliciousness" that means the same thing to all participants. So while I can admire the fervor with which some subscribe to this dream, I can not join them in hoping it can be achieved."

                                                                    Caroline, I do not see why this statement is new...your pov has been shared by fellow hounds many times over. Perhaps you're context (gender) is revisited, but not new.

                                                                    The exchange btwn you & Servorg (just an example) demonstrates to me (following along) how quickly/easily one can read into/not read into replies and wind up spending times re-explaining a pov just to be perfectly understood...rather than spent talking about food/ingredients/new food finds. Don't you think gender ID could dismantle many food discussions unnecessarily? I do.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      If you think this discussion is pointless, why are you trying to get me to further the discussion? I've said about all I have to say, but I do greatly dislike being misquoted. In ANY context. '-)

                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                        C1, now I've experienced a misquote. I did not use the word pointless anywhere in this thread. I asked you a direct question, something you appear to be very good at. I come for the discourse not the anger.

                                                                        You lost me at pointless.

                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Seeing as how you completely mischaracterized what I said regarding gender by conflating it with something else I wrote about hot button topics and posters drawing lines in the sand, I find your assertions about my misquoting you to be disingenuous at best.

                                                                  At least the meaning behind my characterization of your word "uncomfortable" with regard to tasting food or trying someones recipe without knowing their gender first is accurate with regard to the pejorative feelings you acknowledge having for posters who don't declare their gender on this site. Unless of course by the word "uncomfortable" you meant that you gladly took those suggestions and tried them if they sounded good to you?

                                                                3. re: Servorg

                                                                  Whatever it is, it seems to me that, you regularly distort what Caroline1 says, use retorts that are nothing more than barbs and try to pick a fight with her.
                                                                  For example: she says "a "temple" (any religion, any denomination) is a place where thinking is "uniform" among the members, where "trust" is shared, where you can let your guard down and relax"
                                                                  and you reply that "you must be going to one much different than some of those I see on the news of late". Whether you put a smiley face with it, or not, it is not helpful. It shows that you want to be argumentative and have to bring up the small anomalies that occur everywhere in life just to do so. The statement about the beer keg discussion is just amazing. Are you a psychologist that's saying that if you want to lift more weight than a six-pack that you've got a drinking problem??

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    Scargod, we're adults here & Caroline1 gives as good as she gets.
                                                                    No one is looking to argue or fight.

                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                      Disagreeing is not distorting. If you haven't noticed there can be a lot of fighting among the members of the same church (harmony and kumbaya it aint always going to be - kinda like Chowhound at times now that I think of it).

                                                                      Carolyn said that she didn't like my analogy of CH as a sort of Temple of food because there is disharmony here and she has to "...be guarded about what I buy, how I cook, where I eat, and who I trust. So I do reject your "temple" of food." My point was harmony exists in both Temples and Chowhound, as does disharmony.

                                                                      My riposte about the beer keg was made in jest. You know - a humorous reply to a point that seemed humorous as it came from the other person (or at least one not to be taken very seriously - and to be replied to in the same vein).

                                                                      Disagreement is not "picking a fight." It's having an opposite point of view. No more and no less.

                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                        On the other hand, I happen to think C1 and Scargod are often the more combative ones stirring trouble and Servorg a more balanced reasoned responder. So I guess its all just a different perspective eh?

                                                                4. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Which there's a lot of body language info missing from boards like these (which is probably fairly universal on websites that use text for discussion), there is an unprecedented lode of information of a person's tastes in food that can be easily gleamed from there posting history -- they types of places and dishes they like and dislike, their food preferences, their background knowledge of various cuisines, the range of things that they cook. When trying to obtain context on this board, that type of background information is way more directly and critically relevant than other non-food related information.

                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Diversity in terms of love for food and how to squeeze more deliciousness - great and absolutely essential.

                                                              Diversity in interests outside of food, the lives of others -- that runs counter to the focused resource of the site. CH isn't a like the marketplace or a cafe where folks socialise; CH is a library - an information resource where many peopel come to find useful bits of info.

                                                              Unless the demographics of the board (and the internet in general) has changed dramatically, the majority of the users of CH are lurkers. Out of courtesy to these lurkers who aren't here to socialise but to find chowy information, I keep my posts focused about the food. That way they won't have to stumble over non-food stuff to get to satisfy a hunger. It's just being considerate, helpful and friendly to the silent majority, and granting them important, basic courtesies.

                                                  2. I write restaurant & bar reviews on another website, and I am almost always perceived as a guy. Which makes me kinda curious -- is there a way of writing that is 'inherently' male???

                                                    And who knows. Maybe I am a MAN (cue evil laughter)....

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      Except for Hemingway, I can't think of one. And occasionally I'm really surprised that a male author wrote a particular book. Very in touch with his feminine side :) (Ya know, we DO talk like that in Calif!!!!)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Amusing you say that. I am a writer and writing has always been inherently part of all of my careers, and "gender neutral" has been important. But with Hemingway, I think his gender is manifest more through the things he writes about and viewpoints expressed by his characters than by his writing style. I don't particularly like his style of short, curt sentences, and was once pelted heavily with bad words for saying I think he writes like a third grader. '-)

                                                        One of the things I find fascinating about Chow is that someone's ethnicity is often easier to figure out than their gender (even when they don't have wonderously telling last names like Fujisaka! <g> Love ya, Sam!).

                                                        I've been "socially interacting".via the web since the earliest days of IRC. Gosh, can it be twenty years yet? Who keeps track when you're having fun? One of the fascinating things is that you can be totally anonymous, or you can totally misrepresent yourself to test how gullible people are. I used to hang out on an IRC channel where I used the handle "Lily," and claimed to be seven years old, yet would never simplify my vocabulary or shy away from participating in discussions on any topic, from nuclear physics to sex. The amazing thing was how many people seemed to actually believe I was seven! I've also had my identity stolen and things posted as me by the thief that had very serious consequences. So I've been around the block, so to speak, when it comes to the web.

                                                        But here in the secure arms of Chow, the atmosphere and air is clearer, and.... I don't know. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's my social imprinting. Whatever it is, I think the bottom line is that I'm uncomfortable tasting food or recipes from someone who insists on remaining so anonymous they don't even let people know if they're male or female. It's like an emotional automat. I've got cookbooks and Google for that! '-)

                                                        Hey! I never said I'm not quirky! '-)
                                                        ..

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Wow you are going to miss out on alot of great food and recipes that way!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            I'm "quirky" also - some might use less flattering words :) Interesting re Hemingway, who btw I haven't read in probably 30 years. I used to think he wrote THE most beautiful sentences - short yes, curt no :) If CH had the ability to allow us to change our screen names without losing our history. I use "catholiver" for many things but when I first signed up here, I just didn't want alot of strangers to be able to narrow me down too much. I don't feel that way now. I guess since all the profile info is optional, I wouldn't have a problem if they decided to put that in. It's a non-event for me either way. The only thing I enjoy seeing on the profiles is approx. where the posters live. We're in Northern California so our points of reference are different at times than someone in South Florida.

                                                            And, are we believing that Sam's surname really IS Fujisaka??? He seems a devious to me :)

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Sam is definitely and inscrutably of Japanese ancestry. How do I know? Because he is smart enough to stay out of the snarky silly sushi wars! '-)

                                                              Wish I was that smart!

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Ooh, I haven't seen any of those. I eat sushi occasionally, like what I have, no nothing about it so never read those posts. Is there an especially good one that you want to share with me?!? cath

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Thanks, c and C. I have said a couple of things about sushi; but I realilze sushi will always be what I grew up with made by both sides of my family in Hawaii and California (and in Peru and Brazil) and that I still make today. I would never pay $175 for omakase, although many apparently do. I also surmised that if you pay $175, you SHOULD know more than me. Then there's BigTuna: I won't go back there until we get proof that BT is NOT some middle-aged guy in Queens or OC with a quirky sense of humor, who otherwise posts in the kosher topic; and who has had way too many of those $175 omakases.

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    A quirky sense of humor and unhealthy levels of mercury...

                                                              2. re: Caroline1

                                                                So before you will taste some CH's recipe, you have to know what their gender is?

                                                                Funny. Or quirky '-)

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  Well, I dunno... Did you ever eat in an automat? At first it's kind of fun and mysterious. You put your money in the slot, you open the little door, you take out your salad or pie or mashed potatoes, put it on your tray, feed coins and open doors and get more food, then finally you go sit down at a table. And about the third time you do it you start wondering... Who's back there? Did they wash their hands? And next thing you know, you're eating someplace else where you can see the people who handle your food.

                                                                  I just somehow feel more comfortable with food and recommendations from someone named Mary or John than I do with such from someone named Anon E. Mouse. But I did once know a guy on the web who did use that handle. But he never shared recipes with me.... Just screenplays. '-)

                                                                  And I am kidding. Well, sort of.

                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                  There's lots of ways to mine the information here...most chowhounds I know are always on the hunt for new delicious stuff, and will try a place even if it's never been recommended by anyone (i.e. a place that has no shred of info). As such, it's even less of a barrier to try a place that is recommended by a stranger.

                                                                  In addition, one often gets an idea for another hound's tastes over time or by reading their posts, which is probably a much more informative and relevant factor than any other aspect of the person's background.

                                                                  It works in reverse too. I've had other chowhounds make spot on recommendations for me based on their past reads of my posts.

                                                              3. re: linguafood

                                                                Maybe you mentioned it in an earlier post, but I always read you as a female...

                                                                Edit: This was supposed to be in response to lingua's 'man' post above, nt sure wy it's way down here.

                                                              4. Dh & I share this handle; Hill .... J
                                                                We thought it was simple, time saver
                                                                but we realize that sometimes folks aren't sure which one of us is responding.
                                                                Are we the only duo sharing a CH s/n?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  No you're not.... I recently learned, via their profile, there is another couple sharing the same user name.I hate the term , handle.
                                                                  Stradacouple.... cute.

                                                                  Personally, I don't think it's of any use to know the gender of the person you're corresponding with. Goodness, it's not a relationship we're looking for... it's Good Food.

                                                                  OTOH.......

                                                                2. I joined an online gaming community with a gender-neutral nom de dactylographie. Most assumed I was male. It took me a few weeks to realize that; I had had fun little private chats with both males and females. I assumed one of my buddies was a grandmother in England from her nic. Nope, she was a 27 year old in Manila. The downside of coming out as female was the occasional drunken "hey, want to cyber?" private message.

                                                                  1. ok...so judging from some of the recent discussions on CH....

                                                                    -no one wants to chat
                                                                    -no one wants a fun off topic board where we might get to know things about each other other than food.
                                                                    -no gender specifics allowed

                                                                    i'm beginning to believe that some on this site want to share info as robots.

                                                                    sheesh....unclench. ever hear of a choice button called "prefer not to say"?

                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                                      Au contraire. Most of the "don'ts" you cite are off topic. This month is my second anniversary with Chowhound, and I have had delightful off-board exchanges with about 30 hounds (my e-mail address has been on my profile since day 1 ), and I have regular dialog with about 12, and have attended two weddings. All this in addition to what I have learned that is serious of purpose, and I have been thanked for my modest contributions. I have zero complaints.

                                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                                        I'm all in favor of all of those things. Just not necessarily on Chowhound. Individuals should absolutely be as specific as they wish about their gender. People should feel free to ask others if they feel it matters. I don't think there should be a gender field on a profile page because I don't think people should feel like they have to list those kinds of details in order to participate in the boards.

                                                                        "prefer not to say" is an option you'd chose to have on whatever thing it is you'd like to see added to Chowhound. The similar choice being voiced by some (prefer not to add features) isn't ok, though?

                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                          all i'm saying, in my own way, is that it seems as though any changes here are met with a big "OMG why EVER would we want to do that" , followed by some comment referring to the search for "deliciousness"...( a peeve of mine is that i'm tiring of that word ). I just won't ever figure out I guess, why people seem to be so against something they could opt out of anyway.

                                                                          I don't want to have my e-mail address as it contains my last name. I've no desire to clog down the internet with additional e-mail addresses for sites I visit. Most profile pages attached to sites i've seen (similar to this one, which i have not yet gotten around to filling out), have a lot of info pages that if you don't fill them out, they don't appear on your profile. Gender and such could certainly be one such area. I'm not for a minute suggesting gender be one of those questions that you can not bypass in order to join (as would be the case, on some sites, as the date of birth required to verify age)

                                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                                            im nomad, I base my observation on the number of CH's who do not complete the "very small" bio area of their own "home page" ...I didn't. Some of the most "read" CH's don't have a bio completed and they have dozens of fellow hounds reading them.

                                                                            If the majority of people did complete the questions created by the site, then maybe I could see a the option to add other questions...then IF a CH wanted to add their gender, sign, number of children (wink) we'd all have that option...but the answers have no bearing (imho) on where to find good food. We base those recommendations off of something else entirely.

                                                                            As for deliciousness...the word appears throughout CH history...a new word..when chowishness and its many forms got old....have a new "word" suggestion?

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I was in too much of a hurry to get started, which is part of the reason i didn't fill mine out. On the other hand, truthfully, i found a couple of the areas a bit vague. But the fact that I didn't fill mine out, shouldn't mean others shouldn't get to.

                                                                              none of the profile things you mention have anything to do with food, yes. Nor do they have anything to do with music, movies, art or books...but they are there on the profile pages of such sites.

                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                It is simple to edit your profile. You may be surprised how many people may want to continue a conversation with you concerning a thread that is starting to wander out of bounds. But they need to be able to find you!
                                                                                I have had zero Spam or hate mail.

                                                                            2. re: im_nomad

                                                                              An "opt-out" clause isn't the same as something not being there. See debates about opt-out organ donation proposals, for example.

                                                                              I see your point about thinking that so long as someone can opt out of answering a question or using a feature that it doesn't affect them at all. I feel that the presence of the thing sometimes is a problem in and of itself, regardless of whether someone can opt out.

                                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                I think the site would be wise to be less about setting up camps in which you are either an "opt inner" or an "opt outer" and keep focusing on being a "chow downer".

                                                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                  lol....i'm thinking that failing to identify yourself as male or female is a LITTLE bit different than opting out of organ donation.

                                                                                2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                  I never tire of the search for deliciousness...(not exaggerating) it's our goal in life!

                                                                                  1. re: limster

                                                                                    it's the use of the word that annoys me, not the concept of something being delicious. also the fact that in any discussion about a suggested change to the site, at least one person always cites the "CH is about the search for deliciousness" blah blah.

                                                                                    sorry for the rant, but the "search for deliciousness" and "i threw up in my mouth" phrases are my CH pet peeves at the moment !

                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                      It's important to suggest improvements to the site, and it's equally important to evaluate those suggestions in the context of what the site is supposed to do. In that sense I think it's obvious and fair that people ask how does a given suggestion help us in the "search for deliciousness" since that is the main goal of the site. If it helps, shouldn't we be asking for it with more vigour? Conversely, if it doesn't help, shouldn't we reject it with equal vigour?

                                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                                        I still recall when the "new" CH site first made avatars available and quite a few hounds thought that signified the "end of days" for this group. I never thought that would make much of a difference personally. But I do want to thoroughly vet any proposed changes that would substantially alter the dynamic of our prime (rib) mission. Since I am proscribed from using the D word why don't we just call it the hunt for "oral nirvana." What will assist in the hunt and what will slow it down or detract from it. If we hang enough accessories on this site will it keep the hunt from ever getting going? I don't want to put lip stick on the pig but I do want to find out where the achingly tender belly of the beast can be found.

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          chuckle, chuckle...I may have been one of that group of hounds who thought the avatars were a symbol of disaster to come (and you will note that I still don't use one)..and yet I will admit that your avatar actually was the first thing that got my attention about your posts, Servorg (in a very positive way!). Then I started paying attention to the content and realize that was really what it was all about (again, also in a positive way).

                                                                                          as for the original issue under discussion, even though my gender is fairly obvious in my screen name (well, I suppose I could be the boy named Sue, but no) I don't think a poster should feel any obligation to post any personal details, nor do I think the value of their posts in any way hinges on or mandates personal details. As you say, it is all about the hunt...Whatever gets the hunt going and keeps it going works for me.

                                                                                          That said, one of the joys of being a part of Chowhound, for me, has been the real time friends I've made and people I've met through the CH community, and I truly appreciate the chance to meet other hounds in real life, not just cyber space. Moreover, when I do get the opportunity to 'break bread' with other hounds, one of the aspects I love the most is seeing how someone's non-cyber self matches with the image I've developed from reading their posts. Always entertaining, sometimes enlightening, to compare the person to my mind's eye view of the on-line 'persona'.

                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                            I find it much more interesting to learn about a person through their posts and not be conscisously or unconsciously be biased about things such as gender, etc. Do I find the way they express themselves and their attitudes appealing to me in the search for good chow? Chances are I'll get along with them and further connection can go from there.

                                                                                      2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                        That second phrase is gross, I agree. The first is mildly annoying-- to me, anyhow.

                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                          do you think that the word delicousness is used, now overused, because it appears in the CH manifesto? Could chowhounds just be using the word because they believe it is the approved word? When the manifesto included variations on chowhound...it became overused as well.

                                                                                3. ...and we haven't gotten into the gay/straight issue. When I have mentioned my partner in past posts, many have automatically assumed I'm talking about my husband/wife, and have calibrated their responses accordingly.

                                                                                  1. I dont think it would be usefull, or relevent. I dont really care if a poster on this site is a man or woman when discussing food.

                                                                                    1. i've been mulling this thread over in my mind. What would you have not said or said differently to anyone here if their sex (gender is actually the word for words in languages with gender) were reversed?

                                                                                      Should people with different genitalia be treated differently for any reason?

                                                                                      the problem is one's own preconceived notions and assumptions, and that is probably what needs to ebe addressed, not "gendering" others.

                                                                                      19 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        Oh, thew, I wanted to write "genitalia" yesterday and chickened out. Thanks.

                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                          i think the request for a gender ID is being taken a bit amiss. I don't think people need to know what gender someone is, in order to know what to say to them or how to treat them, and i never got the impression anyone here was suggesting that they "held back" from talking about certain things with anyone of either sex. it's more of a getting to know you sort of thing, as well as not wanting to make an arse out of yourself by continuing to refer to someone as "that guy" when in fact they are a female.

                                                                                          For the record, i'm a woman. I hardly think that I will here on in be pigeon holed into discussing finger sandwiches in my frilly apron.

                                                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                            My understanding is that, when Hannibal Lecter had "finger sandwiches" in his apron, no one gave him a hard time for it being in any manner "frilly"... ;-D

                                                                                          2. re: thew

                                                                                            thew, you're only partially right in your definition of gender. Check this out: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...
                                                                                            Specifically definitions 2-a and 2-b.

                                                                                            As for what I would say differently to someone here if their gender were reversed? (Your wording, not mine.) Well, for openers, if I was responding to Party B in a Chow thread, and referred to something Party A wrote previously, and then went on to say that "he" says such and such (referring to Party A) then later found out that Party A is indeed female and not male, I would be VERY embarrassed by my gaff.

                                                                                            In your second paragraph, I'm not clear whether you are assuming that by identifying their gender, participants in Chow would be treated differently because they supplied that information. Frankly, I'm surprised and a bit amused at all of the complications that several people foresee as associated with gender disclosure! Do these negative things happen regularly to people in their every day life just because those around them can tell which gender they are by simply looking? Does anyone here want to live someplace where both males and females are bundled up in chadors?

                                                                                            As for addressing my own preconceived notions, I've been editing and revising them for 75 years. How about you? '-)

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              I don't understand why you would be embarrassed to call a man "she" by mistake (or a woman "he"). If the man's user name is gender neutral, then obviously he doesn't care whether you know he's a man or not. You haven't insulted or offended him. What's to be embarrassed about?

                                                                                              1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                oh man, so age has no bearing...but gender will?

                                                                                                this conversation is challenging at best to have online within the parameters of allowable debate on a moderated site about food.

                                                                                                Why are we having it again???? All this back n forth is confusing the heck out of me.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  Neither gender, nor age, nor any other personal attribute qualifies or disqualifies one to have a cogent discussion on any subject, and I have no idea of the gender or ages of the majority of the posters on these forums, and could care less.

                                                                                                  Throwing out your age to bolster an argument is specious and does nothing to bolster an argument, but the entire course of this thread does nothing to help any of us find delicious chow, so we have all been hoodwinked on this one.

                                                                                                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                    Was *I* being specious?!?!? I'm the 61 year old :)

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      And such a beautiful mug for your avatar, hubba hubba,,,

                                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                  I wouldn't throw around the "age card" to bolster my credibility, wisdom does not automatically come with age.

                                                                                                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                    I think age has relevance where gender doesn't. Caroline's profile indicates that she's 75. And she started this by giving an example of a theoretical bar that a woman might not be comfortable going into at night. I'm 61 but "came of age" in the 60s, lived in a big city, stayed single til I was 40 (!!!) and have a greater comfort level than many my age and older about entering "dens of iniquity." I call 'em dive bars and have always had the most fun there :) I think if someone has a gender issue, it can be addressed with a simple "I'm a somewhat timid woman. Would I feel comfortable being there later?" Again, I seem to find age gives me more insight than gender. But that's just me.

                                                                                                    And, hey, everybody, let's all take a collective big breath and remember why we're here :) I just had leftover rib roast and dripping with butter and cream mashed potatoes FOR LUNCH!

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      You don't eat like that EVERY day do you? If you do then I'm more than impressed that you've made it to 61, regardless if you are male or female!

                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                        Don't I wish?!? We had this left over from a couple of days ago and are having houseguests arrive this evening. So I FORCED us to eat this for lunch today. Y'all (gender neutral!) have had me in a cooking frenzy so there's really no room to freeze anything else. Plus one guest is 4-3/4 y.o. so I have things like toaster waffles there.

                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        sounds delicious c oliver! I had a health bar and a cup of tea for lunch, boring food day...but dinner should be far more interesting!

                                                                                                        Although I don't believe age, gender, marital status or even career choice necessarily play a huge role in how we engage in food discussions on CH I think the larger barrier is quite simple: Communicating online is NOT the same as communicating live. To try and place some of the obvious benefits a one on one, live discussion offers into the confines of a viral reply doesn't usually work. And for me, doesn't need to exist in order to talk about the best way to make french toast or where in NJ I can find fresh wormwood.

                                                                                                        Information, offered in a fun spirited way...is good enuf for me.

                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          I kind of wish that I hadn't found out the political leanings of one of the frequent posters here. I find that it distracts me from some of his (yes, his) interesting posts. Sometimes it's nice for it to be all about the food.

                                                                                                          1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                            Glencora, I agree with you. Although the flames are rare they tend to come out more off topic than on topic...the topic being chow. When it's all about the passion (food, again) it's great reading....and I learn so much by reading CH daily. C1, has tremendous knowledge to share but I rarely agree with C1's off (food) topic thoughts. Not the poster, just the post....but again...I learn alot in the process.

                                                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            I think this thread - in the beginning anyway :) - made some interesting points so I hope everyone calms down so it doesn't wind up getting deleted. The gender issue matters to Caroline and doesn't to me. Neither of us are wrong.
                                                                                                            PS: What do you do with wormwood?!?

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              c oliver, good point re: neither of us are wrong. I wasn't debating right or wrong; only sharing my own preference. Staying calm :0) is always a good thing.

                                                                                                              I use wormwood for making various alcohol spirits. Lots of experimentation.

                                                                                                          3. re: c oliver

                                                                                                            I agree, I am 56 and I have seen alot, dined solo alot and yeah, partied as well. Gotta love a good dive.

                                                                                                            I DO find it interesting that when folks have "guessed" a gender...they seem to always think male when the poster is female. Gender stereotyping is still rampant (HA! you think not? You try to find frilly lacy baby boy blue baby stuff!) and from birth sorta ground into us. But it is changing!

                                                                                                    2. I couldn't care less whether the person I'm addressing is male or female. But knowing gender sure makes it easier to write cogently, grammatically, and with neutrally when referring to someone in the third person singular. In this case, the Caroline has **her** opinions about whether this information is helpful and Sam has offered **his** input; others have provided other points of view, and I appreciate **their** insights as well. But if when a poster's gender is unknown, do we create awkward constructions to discuss **his/her** posts, or simply lapse into bad English and refer to and individual poster as **them**?

                                                                                                      English is not a gender-neutral language. Can we work around its limitations? Sure. But it's easier when we don't have to. If the severity of all the real and perceived problems with Chowhound were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, this one would come in right around 1, and it sounds like the problems that would be caused by resolving it would be more severe. Nevertheless, the claims that gender is completely irrelevant are very slightly off the mark.

                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        alanbarnes, I don't find a gender-neutral lang. difficult or a communication barrier. In any CH discussion, if I was responding directly to you, I would just refer to you as alanbarnes and type away..... if I was contributing to the entire thread, I'd go to the appropriate place in the reply list (or at the bottom) and type away....

                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          But you can't deny that gender neutrality makes it more difficult to use pronouns. Not that pronouns are indispensable, but they can be useful on occasion.

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            Useful, sure. I'm more of a "leap of faith" kinda CH. Pronouns aren't a deal breaker when discussing food/wine on the Boards. However, an off line email exchange..a large chow meetup...might be interesting to know gender beforehand....but there again...leap of faith...is more interesting....yeah...I'm sticking with leap of faith.

                                                                                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                          This is the biggest problem I have had by not knowing someone's gender. I have been surprised by several people being women, when I had them pegged as men. I usually try to figure it out because it is hard to be gender neutral in comments and replies.

                                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                            I bet the posters you addressed incorrectly weren't offended. If they corrected you than they wanted to let you know their true gender. I've had posters misidentify me and I didn't correct them because it didn't matter to me one bit.

                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                              jfood called me "dad" recently and I DID correct that :)

                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                I saw that. I didn't know your gender before that post and it really didn't matter to me but if you choose to share than that's your prerogative. But now I know and I won't make the same mistake jfood did ; )

                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                  Hey, I lived in San Francisco for MANY years and I have not a single hangup around any aspect of gender or sexual preference :) As someone wrote, it's just genitalia :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                    Here's another handle jfood likes to read and believes the writer is female. And he couldn't care less whether KT is a 6'4" 280 pounder guy or 5'1" young lady. still reads and enjoys bythe handle not the gender.

                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    oh mommy, jfood corrected himself very quickly. But he's just a middel aged guy who makes his dog write these posts for a couple of senior biscuits.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      Hey....seeing the dog posting made us CATS hijack this handle alot! You get biscuits??????

                                                                                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                        never took a good look at the avatar...great photo even if it is of a cat from south jersey, or should jfood say that 609 area code. (jfood is an old time 201'er).

                                                                                                            2. Who cares? This is so 20th century.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                Agreed! Male, female, XY or not, old, young, rabid or timid, a "lurker" or a "writer of many years"; it ALL comes down to let's talk about FOOD!

                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                  21st century, actually. I'm still waiting for me jet pack, tho...

                                                                                                                2. whi the heck cares whther a poster is male or female. And if you guess wrong who the heck cares. and if the person is a little offended who the heck cares. and if the person is a little amoused, who the heck cares.

                                                                                                                  sounds likew jfood couldn;t care less.

                                                                                                                  1. Lots of 'hounds have weighed in on this topic and it's begun to get repetitious; we'll lock the thread now. Thanks, everybody.