Maybe. I was kinda thinking as in "If I'm going to remember one datum about a person, it tends to be gender", or as in "Gender is my top-level mental classification under 'people'." Interpret as you see fit.
I'm a very visually-oriented person, so if there's one thing I'm going to remember about a person, it tends to be a mental image of how they look. Naturally gender is a major influence on that, but I can't really disassociate it from the rest of their appearance. I tend to sort of take it all in at once.
In geek terms, I think that my mental primary keys tend to be hashes on images. I'm not sure how the hash function works, though.
If a person is doing a typical job of presenting as a particular gender, I tend to be aware of that gender sort of like I'm aware of how tall they are. I don't usually consciously acknowledge it though, so it's hard to say at what point I "notice" gender.
Yeah, I know what you mean. It's not necessarily supposed to be an easy question to answer.
2007-06-17 06:37 pm (UTC)
Well, first discount for extraordinary circumstances, because if they're on fire, or running a chainsaw, or running quickly straight at me, or running at me while on fire and holding a chainsaw, that's probably what I'll notice first.
Or if they're covered head-to-toe in mud and making aping motions, or covered in burn scars, or missing limbs from chainsaw accidents, I'll probably notice that first.
Otherwise, it's hard to say what's "first" because I suspect there's quite a lot we take in about a person very quickly, but it's probably fair to say that it is among the first things I notice.
You're right. After I replied to badlydrawnjeff
above, I realized that it's almost impossible to only notice one
thing about a person. pixelherder
makes a good point, too: it's hard to separate gender out from other aspects of appearance. Part of our brain is assigning genders to people, but it happens so fast that it's hard to observe the process (unless we manage to confuse it).
I think that some people are answering the question I asked, and I think that others are answering questions that they suspect I meant
to ask, like: Is gender a primary classification by which you divide up the world of people? Do you, as gawm
put it, consider your gender to be a most fundamental aspect of your personality? Are you likely to describe someone in terms of gender? How much does it matter to you?
2007-06-18 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: first thing?
Are you likely to describe someone in terms of gender?
Certainly. Gender is easy to describe most of the time, and it's a quick first fix in the mind of the describee. Gender is a lot more PC than other easy things, like how fat someone is. And it's easier for me to describe gender than height, because all people who are taller than me are tall, and I'm pretty short.
Do you, as gawm
put it, consider your gender to be a most fundamental aspect of your personality?
Not especially. I have some roles that are gendered ("Mother", "Knitter"), but some that aren't ("Scientist", "Graduate Student")
Generally, my answer is no, gender isn't the first thing I notice.
But if someone starts telling a story using a gender-neutral term like "my boss" or "my neighbor" or "my hairstylist," I have trouble making sense of their story until I determine (usually through their use of pronouns) the gender of the subject.
2007-06-25 08:35 pm (UTC)
too bad about the Hertzfeldt avatar there, that you couldn't fit the "And How!" reply in
2007-06-18 12:54 pm (UTC)
I think there's a set of three(ish) things that I notice quickly with ordinary people (people not on fire, manacing with chainsaws, or previously ravaged by chainsaws): gender, race, and bigness. I think I see them altogether at once.
Bigness is hard to quantify, but it's a combination of height, weight, and demeanor. Brandon Zicha has large bigness. pixelherder
has small bigness.
2007-06-25 08:33 pm (UTC)
depends on breast size, there, I said it...