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Author Topic: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination  (Read 36092 times)

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #580 on: 18 Apr 2021, 00:16 »
Although not related to gender differences, but this reminds me a problem observed with Google Translate which sometimes (or always?) seem to either use most common expressions from the web, or some kind of neural network algorithm based on web contents. This results in a bizzare effect when identical sentences with different popular political figure names are translated differently, sometimes changing meaning to opposite (e.g. positive to negative).

While it's most probably a program glitch, it may look like the program has its own political bias.
Possibly, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were other biases present too.

The problem is that so many people think computer algorithms and AIs are these "objective" and "rational" creations, whereas they almost always reflect the same faults and biases as the people programming them,
and the risk is way larger when all the programmers are men in the same social class and all speak English as their first and only language. So all the talk on how we need more women and minorities in STEM isn't just
some woke fad with diversity for the sake of it, it's about not risking creating algorithms perpetuating harmful stereotypes that could have major consequences for people all over the world,
especially as more people rely entirely on the internet for their information.


Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #581 on: 18 Apr 2021, 01:09 »
But on an unrelated note, I recently read an article which I would strongly reccomend in this thread;
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/men-women-books/
Researchers let a machine read and analyze 3.5 million books and analyze the positive and negative words used to describe men and women, and I quote:
Quote
“The algorithms work to identify patterns, and whenever one is observed, it is perceived that something is ‘true.’ If any of these patterns refer to biased language, the result will also be biased. The systems adopt, so to speak, the language that we people use, and thus, our gender stereotypes and prejudices,” says Augenstein. She gives an example of where it may be important: “If the language we use to describe men and women differs in employee recommendations, for example, it will influence who is offered a job when companies use IT systems to sort through job applications.”
That's some seriously worrying implications as algorithms determine more and more of our everyday lives.  :-\

Looks interesting, the hour's too late for me to sift through the actual study, but bookmarking :). Here's some pretty cool research on a related topic, might be worth checking out: Gender Prejudice Is More Common In Languages With Grammatical Genders.

I've always wanted to make an experiment where I take a story, gender-swap the characters and see how it (on average) changes the way they are perceived. I'm sure people have done this, but couldn't find any examples. Anyone aware of anything like that?
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2021, 14:11 by Honza »

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #582 on: 18 Apr 2021, 01:52 »
Here's some pretty cool research on a related topic, worth checking out: Gender Prejudice Is More Common In Languages With Grammatical Genders.

Unfortunately the article does not give any real examples, which makes it sound way too abstract to consider.
The actual research requires payment to access (and I doubt if I would be able to read it through anyway).
TBH I much dislike this kind of articles, because they help spreading certain claims, but not details behind these claims.

For instance:
Quote
The list of positive terms included love, pleasure and lucky, for example, while the negative terms included abuse, sickness and ugly.
The team found that the gendered languages were much more likely to show skewed associations, with more positive terms being associated with men than with women.
and
Quote
The team found that in gendered languages, male words, more than female words, were associated with being “competent”, “skilful” and “confident” (attributes traditionally associated more with men than women) but also “warm” (which traditionally has been associated more with women). In gendered languages, men are seen in a more positive light, overall, it seems.

I fail to comprehend what do they even mean by "male words associated with competent, skillfull, etc". In gendered languages adjectives are gendered too, and each of these traits would come in both male and female form. So they are talking about some nouns then? Are they refering to e.g. professions and occupations traditionally be used in a male form? Or do they mean some idioms, like "ugly as N"? Well, I'm bad at guessing.


PS. Also, maybe I'm missing something, but how do you compare gendered and non-gendered languages in terms of "associations with gender"?
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2021, 03:27 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #583 on: 18 Apr 2021, 02:06 »
I fail to comprehend what do they even mean by "male words associated with competent, skillfull, etc". In gendered languages adjectives are gendered too, and each of these traits would come in both male and female form. So they are talking about some nouns then?

Yes. In Norwegian, the nouns may have any of three genders (or two, if you have a specific dialect). An expert, an artist, a professional would all be male nouns, while a genius would be non-gendered ( which is the third gender). There are many positive nouns that are female, too, but I'd guess most are male.

On the other hand, words like fool or idiot are male in Norwegian, too.  8-0

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #584 on: 18 Apr 2021, 02:20 »
Yes. In Norwegian, the nouns may have any of three genders (or two, if you have a specific dialect). An expert, an artist, a professional would all be male nouns, while a genius would be non-gendered ( which is the third gender). There are many positive nouns that are female, too, but I'd guess most are male.

On the other hand, words like fool or idiot are male in Norwegian, too.  8-0

Contemporary Russian, for instance, is layered, with old russian and old slavic words followed by words coming from turkic languages (because of the mutual assimilation with turkic people following Mongol invasion), then words coming from european countries. Latter also adopted in different times.
I never did or read any proper research on this, but from the quick glance, many words of European origin that were adopted relatively late are traditionally used in only male form. E.g. "genius" transferred almost literally and does not have a female form still after 2 or 3 centuries it's been around), but at the same time some of the older words related to generic person traits have both male and female form. E.g. word "master", as in "skillful person", was adopted perhaps earlier, and has both male and female form: male form identical to european word, while female form constructed with suffixes. Then we have local russian word for "clever person" which comes in both genders.

Local words for "creator", "painter" and "writer" are used in both forms freely, while "author" (word literally adopted from the european langs) traditionally only in male one (in the last years there's a certain movement to introduce female form of "author", which is a curious example of how linguistically correct but non-traditional form of word may sound weird).
Which makes me think that in some cases the female form was not added because it would be difficult to pronounce if done according to common tradition (such as in "genius"). While others were solidifed in the times when they were commonly refered only to men (predominantly male occupations).

In regards to e.g. swear words, sometimes they are taken from existing words having normal meaning (like some object), or even from foreign language in which they have completely irrelevant meaning, in which case they just keep original gendered form without any additional implication.

I'm saying this, because the words form in the the language or come to it in various ways.

EDIT: In addition to above, the history of word forming may be strange. Sometimes we have potential for word forms, but they are never or rarely used. One unusual example is that female form of "air pilot" is widespread, but female form of "car driver" is much less so (but technically it does exist). Which makes me genuinely wonder if soviet propaganda of women pilots had contributed to this... regardless of how weird that may sound.
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2021, 03:20 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #585 on: 18 Apr 2021, 03:23 »
I fail to comprehend what do they even mean by "male words associated with competent, skillfull, etc". In gendered languages adjectives are gendered too, and each of these traits would come in both male and female form. So they are talking about some nouns then? Are they refering to e.g. professions and occupations traditionally be used in a male form? Or do they mean some idioms, like "ugly as N"? Well, I'm bad at guessing.

Ugh, now I'm tempted to actually pay for the article to find out what exactly they did :). The way I understood it, they checked the proximity of positively charged words to gendered words (eg. "ugly woman", "he was lucky"), and found out there were statistically more negative associations with feminine words in languages which also happen to have gendered nouns. But you're right that it's pretty vague and I wouldn't draw any dramatic conclusions from it, I just thought it was interesting.

By the way, reading the last paragraph:

Quote
Future studies could explore whether other stereotypes, not considered in this study — such as weakness vs power, home vs career, or perceptions of emotional versus rational decision-making — might show different patterns of gender association in gendered vs genderless languages, the team suggests.

... I just realized both "weakness" and "power" are feminine in Czech, "home" is masculine and "career" is feminine :).

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #586 on: 18 Apr 2021, 03:35 »
... I just realized both "weakness" and "power" are feminine in Czech, "home" is masculine and "career" is feminine :).

Well, "strength", "will", "beauty", "kindness" are feminine in Russian, lol, while "intelligence" is masculine and "wisdom" is neutral (I think??) checked in the dictionary, and it's feminine again. Does this even mean anything?

BTW, not arguing with anything, but in regards to previous post, where they compared which traits refer to which gender; I just realized that if we take Russian folklore, then heroines have two standard epithets: "Beautiful" and "Wise", while heroes are "Strong" and "The Fool" :D. Well, in slavic tales "fool" probably means "reckless but lucky", judging by what happens to them.
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2021, 03:40 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #587 on: 18 Apr 2021, 03:50 »
Well, "strength", "will", "beauty", "kindness" are feminine in Russian, lol, while "intelligence" is masculine and "wisdom" is neutral (I think??) checked in the dictionary, and it's feminine again. Does this even mean anything?

Same in Czech, except "intelligence" is also feminine here :). Isn't it that personality traits are mostly feminine in general?

Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #588 on: 18 Apr 2021, 19:14 »
As a Swede, I always found the random gendering of words weird, like, why do abstract concepts or inanimate objects even need gender? To me, it seems like it would just add pointless confusion.
Meanwhile, in Swedish, I still remember when LGBTQ+ circles tried to introduce a third, genderless pronoun to compliment She and He, and it quickly got huge traction, not because there were that many non-binary people,
but simply because there are just so many situations where you don't know the gender of the person addressed (especially in texts meant to reach lots of readers), and so, most just accepted it as a logical gap to fill in our language.

As for positive/negative associations, I still remembered from Spanish class how words for well-liked animals like horse and dog were masculine, but animals less popular, like snake and spider, were feminine,
though I'll leave it up to native Spanish Speakers to elaborate on this.


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Re: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination
« Reply #589 on: 18 Apr 2021, 20:15 »
I'm not Spanish, but Portuguese is close enough.  (laugh)

Am not sure what you want to elaborate in relation to "positive/negative associations"... I never ever even though about that before. But "bird" is a male word, and "seagul" is a female word, "parrot" is a male word and "raven" is a male word, ... I'm not seeing anything negative/positive about these... " "vulture" is a male word and I think we all associate it to being "negative"...

One thing though, is that being a male gender language, you always use the male form of the word if you don't know the gender of the person/animal you referring to. If you use the female version (both dog and horse, have specific words for both gender... though snake and spider only have the female version) then you are specifically talking about a female person/animal, but if you use the male version, you might be talking about only males or both males and females. Same rule apply for the sons/daughters... We normally use "sons" to reference "our children", which can be all boys or 10 girls and one boy... if you have at least one boy then the word is "sons", unless you want to exclude the son(s) and then you use daughters...  (roll)

Though, you can't write about your self without specifying your gender, because the male/female version of the words will have to be adjusted correctly. That's one thing I always liked about writing in english, unless I specifically write my gender, I can avoid it and let the "reader" make the assumption... Makes me laugh when they figure out (if they do) that they assumed wrong... (laugh)

Also, a little OT about Google Translate. I use it often, it's a great tool to translate from one language and back, and make sure I have gotten the right word and way of spelling it. However, if you don't know the language you are translating to, it's unusable! For the first, I used it often to get words from Portuguese to Danish and English, or the opposite, and I've noticed that it never translates from Portuguese to Danish or from Danish to Portuguese. What is does is it Translates everything to english, and then to the language you want (using the 1st option of the english translation.) This results in a very "funny" sentences that make absolutely no sense... and if you don't know the language you are going to write nonsense  elsewhere.  (laugh)

One word I noticed, when I was looking for the danish word for an elevator shaft, I entered the Portuguese word for "well" (like the round place you go and get water from) and asked to translate it to Danish... and I ended up with the translated word of "good"...  (roll)  (wrong) Now, I knew this was wrong, so I ended up having to use the english "elevator shaft" to get my word... but rather annoying when all I could think was the portuguese words atm... My son wouldn't get "grandmother" out of it either. Every time he tried, it always come out as "grandfather".
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2021, 20:19 by Cassiebsg »
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