Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Assumptions, or yes, I’m male

Posted by shannonclark on April 28, 2007

This afternoon my cell phone rang, with a number I did not recognize. Nothing too unusual there, friends change their phones (or I don’t happen to have their cell phone in my addressbook) and at least a few times a month I get someone calling my company’s 800 number who has misdialed (usually wanting a transportation department somewhere).

So I answered.

A long pause, then a slightly confused male voice explained that he had called my number thinking it would be fun having seen it on my profile (not entirely clear which profile he was referring to, though I do list my company’s 800 # in many places online, including this blog, our websites, and my professional profiles on many networks).

He then explained “I thought you were a woman and it would be fun to call you.”

So, in case there is any confusion (though really, it shouldn’t be all that hard to determine my gender). I am male.

Currently single.

Heterosexual.

And while I do not mind random calls – from women or men – I do prefer that they are for a better reason than you thought I was a woman, and would respond well to a random man calling me up directly to chat.

You are welcome to call me to talk business, to respond to my blog, to connect while at a conference or when visiting San Francisco. But please, do know I’m male, know what I do & write, introduce yourself, and whether or not we have met before give the call some context.

i.e. say something like “Hi, this is … I read your blog/met you at …/etc. and wanted to call to introduce myself to you.”

That’s fine.

But the pause after I say hello, the quick check “are you Shannon” and the further pause tell me that you didn’t expect me to be male.

Happens at least a few times a month that I’m aware of (and an unknown number of times as people read my comments/blog posts across the web and just assume my gender). As my online profile grows, it does seem to be happening more and more frequently.

But really, pause and ask yourself what assumptions you are making about others without actually knowing them.

Are you assuming someone is a man (or a woman)?

Are you assuming they are American?

Of a certain age?

Skin color?

Political affiliation? (seems to happen frequently in the Bay Area, especially at large events where the assumption is made that everyone in the room are very left leaning, pro-unions, anti-war Democratic party members or Green party members)

On the political party affiliation, I am an independent. I describe myself as a “radical centrist” – and no, that’s not a contradiction. I am indeed fairly liberal on social issues, but on many other major issues (unions, international engagement, some economic/tax issues) I part ways with the far-left. I have voted for individuals from both parties (or neither) and plan to continue doing so until there is (as I hope someday there will be) a party on a national and local scale which more fully encapsulates my political perspective.

So question your assumptions in your dealings online and off.

One Response to “Assumptions, or yes, I’m male”

  1. Sarah Dopp said

    I love this post — well put and well framed. I deal with a lot of assumptions, too, and they never fail to make me question the intelligence and awareness of the person making them.

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