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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Facebook Quizzes That Are Offensive to Women

I don't know how many of you have seen this, but the other day I was perusing Facebook and saw that some of my friends took the quiz "How Well Do You Know Women?". I became intrigued by this, especially when I saw that some of my male friends had scored 100% but none of my female friends who had taken it had scored that high. I decided to take it, just to see what it was all about.

The quiz is 15 questions long. Here are just some examples of the questions the quiz has to offer:

In a desperate situation where only one of these can be carried in a handbag, she will choose the following...
a. small mirror
b. comb
c. lipstick/makeup
d. cash
e. perfume/deodorant

According to you, when does a woman feel like a woman...
a. when she gives birth
b. when she gets married
c. when she looks in the mirror
d. when she falls deeply in love
e. when she hits puberty

According to you, women are more worried about...
a. their weight
b. the way they look
c. if they can satisfy their partners
d. if they can pass of as an intelligent individual
e. the way they present themselves

According to you, the only think most women can't do without is...
a. good clothes
b. make up kit
c. gossip
d. constant attention
e. diamond and jewelry

The one trait women most envy in a man is...
a. the way they're built
b. their status in society
c. their deep intoxicating voices
d. their strength
e. their privates

Women are different. Women have different experiences and different values and priorities. Not only is the quiz insulting to assume that all women are the same, it portrays women as shallow human beings who are only concerned with their appearance and what other people think of her.

"According to you, the one think most women can't do without?" Personally, I can do without all of those things. Most of the questions have answers that show that women only care about pleasing other people and looking good. While this probably is the reality of many women, it is definitely not the reality for all women.

I can't decide which of these questions offends me the most. One option is, "According to you, women are more worried about.." Most of the answers have to do with appearances or pleasing men. Even though this is offensive in itself, one of the answers is "if they can pass off as an intelligent individual." Women apparently cannot be intelligent, at least not as intelligent as men. They can only give the appearance of being intelligent. Never mind the fact that there are more women enrolled in college than men.

The other option for most offensive to women is, "The one trait women most envy in a man is..." How presumptuous is it to assume that women envy any part of being a man? Women are just as capable as men and, personally, I am proud to be a woman. I wouldn't want to be a man, or any part of a man.

Other people may have questions that offend them more. And these two questions are definitely not the only ones that I find offensive, they are just two that I specifically picked out as particularly poignant to me.

All Facebook quizzes over-generalize. That's what they need to do in order to come up with the over-simplified answer. That's what makes it fun. But this quiz really struck me the wrong way because it's about human beings. Over-simplifying and over-generalizing a class of people that already has second class status just further objectifies them. What if there was a quiz that was "How well do you know African Americans"? That quiz would certainly be offensive and people would realize it. There would be more attention given to it. We still don't see all the ways that women are oppressed in this society. This quiz is an example of how we don't always see this.

If you want to express your feelings about this quiz and the message it sends about women, you can write a review of it here (you do have to have a Facebook account). Right now, I cannot find a way to contact Facebook directly about this quiz. Does anyone know how to do this?


RMJ said...

Not to mention their ads, which are horrific.

Tom said...

I completely agree, however the poison seeps further, staining the carpet of our
collective unconscious with it's perfidious use of language and veil of objectivity.
I came upon a quiz the other day entitled "What spiritual number are you?"
which i feel gives particular weight to our grievances.

Now i won't feign impartiality here as i've long known i was a spiritual 11,
but i feel my knowledge and association merely gives emotional weight to the gut punch
of this quizzes insensitivity.

According to this quiz 11's favourite colour is "green"
and if they came across someone in distress they would
"attempt to educate them as to the cause of their spiritual malaise".
Now perhaps this is true some of the time, but surely it depends on the context -
and to be perfectly honest i resent the implication that i'm some kind of
spiritual, pedagogical green loving automaton!

But dear readers, the quiz goes on to inform me that an 11's desired method of
transportation is "walking, because the sun is shinning (sic), and you like the time."
Well, i do like time - and it is for this reason i often opt for more effective
methods of transport. A bus serves, company not with standing -
but what i'm attempting to impress upon you here is that i personally, as an 11 -
believe in the religious aesthetic of preciseness and punctuality.
The thought that some people think that we 11's are all out there walking around
loving the green grass positively turns my stomach -
and as for the assertion that it's a "sunny day", i think we can all be relatively
sure that it is, in contrast, a cold stormy night above the lair
where this kind of filth is manufactured.

Laura said...

Tom, you bring up a really good point. While I chose to focus on one specific Facebook quiz, most of the quizzes out there are in some form oppressive because they play to specific stereotypes about whatever type of person they are trying to classify.

Anything like this that tries to "classify" people uses stereotypes of some kind that is offensive not only to the group of people they are describing, but really anyone who encounters people who see these quizzes as some form of "truth."

Charlie said...

By writing this, you assume that someone somewhere is taking this seriously, and nobody is. of course it steriotypes, it is attempting to summarize over 3 billion people in a few lines of text, to do anything but steriotype would be an impossible feat. although this is obviously moronic and unfunny it does nobody any real harm, and you are making a great mistake by seeing these quizzes as anything more than poorly made entertainment for idiots. I also find myself falling back on the comment i so often used for so called "equal rights campaigners" would you be shocked if such a quizz was made about men, describing them as sex and alcohol obssessed idiots. somehow i think not.

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