Sunday, September 2, 2007

Are computers masculine or feminine?

The names of British navy ships are prefixed by the initials “HMS” which stand for either “His Majesty’s Ship” or “Her Majesty’s Ship” depending on whether it’s a king or a queen who is the reigning monarch in that country. Right now, it’s Queen Elizabeth, so the initials “HMS” stand for … Yup, you got it right!

You might remember from your English grammar classes that inanimate objects are neuter in gender and so we have to use the pronoun “it” rather than “he” or she.” There are exceptions of course due to customs and idiosyncrasies. For example, the legendary blues guitarist B.B. King treated his guitar as feminine, giving it (or maybe I should use the pronoun "her"?) the name “Lucille.” Sailors, on the other hand, refer to their ships with the use of the feminine gender pronouns “she” and “her.”

(It might interest you to know “angels” are always spoken of in the Bible in the masculine gender. So, men probably ought to think twice or thrice before saying during their amorous times that their girlfriend or wife looks like an angel. The movie “Date with an Angel” starring Phoebe Cates, Michael Knight and the stunning Emmanuelle Beart may have been a worldwide blockbuster, but it is not theologically correct.)

Consider also that a few years ago, before Political Correctness came into the picture, feminine names were given to typhoons and tropical depressions. Why? Well, some people (not me, okay?) say that women’s emotional outbursts are like storms, they’re so unpredictable. My generation which grew up in the 60’s and 70’s still remembers the typhoons which wreaked widespread destruction in our country when we were in grade school and high school. Typhoon “Milenyo” last year? Wala yan kay Typhoon “Yoling” at Typhoon “Dading”!

Some people have also said that the practice of giving feminine names to typhoons was probably inspired by a part of William Congreve’s poem which says, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Okay, okay, enough of ships and storms. The question is, are computers feminine or masculine in gender? Rusty Wright, an award-winning author, journalist, and lecturer with Probe Ministries, has an interesting answer to this question of computers and genders in his Internet evangelism article entitled “Help! I’m not a techie!” He cites several reasons why women consider computers as masculine and why men consider computers as feminine. Okay, here we go!

Four reasons (according to women) why computers are masculine:

[1] In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.

[2] They have a lot of data but they’re still clueless.

[3] They’re supposed to help you solve problems but half the time they are the problem.

[4] As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have had a better model.

Four reasons (according to men) why computers are feminine:

[1] No one but the creator understands their internal logic.

[2] The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.

[3] Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.

[4] As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

I’m sure a lot of you are now laughing out loud with these reasons cited by Rusty Wright. For those of you who are clueless about what the laughter is all about, you can e-mail me for the non-techie explanations, okay?

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