Why do women sometimes pretend to be men when talking in chat rooms or using chat programs? Is it because some immature males treat all women like second-class citizens or brainless bimbos so that you have to pretend to be male to get listened to? Or is it just curiosity about how men talk to other men? Or how other women talk to men?

Someone who plays in a game I run asked if a friend of his could join in, and then put me in chat program contact with her. We talked over the Internet for a while before meeting in the flesh. While chatting, she admitted that she sometimes pretends to be male online. I haven’t got around to asking her why, but now I wonder? When she returns from traveling overseas I’ll have to ask her.

In a way, it is liberating that a woman can so easily pretend to be a man when she is online. There’s no need to disguise her with bulky clothing or a false beard. She can just make a new profile that says she’s male and then try to keep up the façade when talking to people. Amusingly, she was good enough at it to have had a six month long friendship as a man with someone else claiming to be a man who was also really a woman.

Does biological gender really matter in our modern world of equality? Perhaps in the name of antidiscrimination we should all claim to be male when online, regardless of our true gender. Or, we could all just refuse to give a gender, affirming and declaring neuter-ness and asking to be treated as simply ‘people’.

On further reflection, requiring everyone to give any one answer seems the opposite of freedom. Why bother? It would be simpler if everyone who’s online could just answer the question of gender however they please, just like we all have been anyway, for reasons of our own.

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