Social Experiment – Worlds Collide Part 1

| February 23, 2016 | 1 Comment

Let’s conduct a social experiment. Here is Part 1 and check out Aaraf Afzal’s post for part 2.  Part 1 and Part 2 are pieces originally written for male and female characters by a boy and a girl – Aaraf and I, respectively. Then the pronouns in each piece are switched – the “she” and “her” are switched to “he” and “him.” This surprisingly changes the entire dynamic of the piece and ends up sounding rather odd…the experiences of men and women are starkly different in today’s society–that’s a given. But interestingly, their experiences are starkly different in fiction and writing too.

Story 1A: Kate

She’s been trying to bend a strip of steel for her prototype for a good 20 minutes. She angled the strip against the crevice of the manual bender a number of different ways, yet the steel’s sheer strength exceeded that of what she could overcome. At this point, her lab coordinator notices her struggling and heads over to lend her a hand. The Coordinator takes a good look at the set-up, motions Kate to move away and says in a very curt manner “Let a man help you!” With nothing much to say to that, Kate quietly moves away because she did not want to argue with a machinist who’s had his ego bolstered all his life. With a considerable amount of effort, the lab coordinator successfully bends to steel strip and walks away with a seemingly helpful “next time, just come to me straight.”

She wraps up her project and walks out of EPIC only to be greeted by the harsh cold. A whirlwind of thoughts is on repeat in her mind other than the constant chiming of “I should get coffee.” She briefly makes a mental list of all the instances of sexism she’s encountered as a mechanical engineer in a “man’s world.” She then walks into Pavement to address her coffee needs. She’s at the cashier ordering herself her usual vanilla latte. She notices a guy in her periphery standing next in line. He seems familiar so she turns around. Maybe they take calculus II together?

Kate: “Hey! I think we’re in Calc II together?”

John: “Hey yeah we’re in the Tuesday lectures together! You are…? Sorry I’m forgetting your name”

Kate:  laughs “that’s no problem, I’m Kate”

John: “Ahh Kate, and I’m John”

Kate: “So how’s your day been?”

John: “great, just got done with my women’s studies class! You?”

Kate: “yeah it’s been alright, had a rather strange interaction with my lab coordinator along the lines of girl and guy stereotypes in the mech eng industry, so yeah really fun stuff”

Barista: “Vanilla Latte for Kate!”

Kate: “That’s me! Alright see ya John!”

John: “See ya in Calc!”

She walks out of Pavement feeling cheerful because casual small talk is always refreshing.

~

Story 1B: Kate is now John

He’s been trying to bend a strip of steel for his prototype for a good 20 minutes. He angled the strip against the crevice of the manual bender a number of different ways yet the steel’s sheer strength exceeded that of what he could overcome. At this point, his lab coordinator notices him struggling and heads over to lend him a hand. The Coordinator takes a good look at the set-up, motions John to move away and says in a very curt manner “Let a man help you!” With nothing much to say that, John quietly moves away because he did not want to argue with a machinist who’s had his ego bolstered all his life. With a considerable amount of effort, the lab coordinator successfully bends to steel strip and walks away with a seemingly helpful “next time, just come to me straight.”

He wraps up his project and walks out of EPIC only to be greeted by the harsh cold. A whirlwind of thoughts is on repeat in his mind other than the constant chiming of “I should get coffee.” He briefly makes a mental list of all the instances of sexism he’s encountered as a mechanical engineer in a “man’s world.” He then walks into Pavement to address his coffee needs. He’s at the cashier ordering himself his usual vanilla latte. He notices a girl in his periphery standing next in line. She seems familiar so he turns around. Maybe they take calculus II together?

John: “Hey! I think we’re in Calc II together?”

Kate: “Hey yeah we’re in the Tuesday lectures together! You are…? Sorry I’m forgetting your name”

John:  laughs “that’s no problem, I’m John”

Kate: “Ahh John, and I’m Kate”

John: “So how’s your day been?”

Kate: “great, just got done with my women’s studies class! You?”

John: “yeah it’s been alright, had a rather strange interaction with my lab coordinator along the lines of girl and guy stereotypes in the mech eng industry, so yeah really fun stuff”

Barista: “Vanilla Latte for John!”

John: “That’s me! Alright see ya Kate!”

Kate: “See ya in Calc!”

He walks out of Pavement feeling cheerful because casual small talk is always refreshing.

~

Notice how odd the same storyline sounds when the gender pronouns are switched. It’s perfectly normal for a girl to “make a mental list of all the instances of sexism she’s encountered as a mechanical engineer in a “man’s world.””But when the characters are switched and John is made to experience Kate’s situation, even writing pieces about it sounds weird and funny to be honest. Which guy “makes a list of all the instances of sexism he’s encountered as a mechanical engineer in a “man’s world.”

Note: Do check out Aaraf Afzal’s post for the second part of this social experiment!

 photo credit: Temed el amor de la mujer más que el odio del hombre. via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, The (Sex)es

Gayathri Angou

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Gayathri Angou is just your everyday engineering student who also happens to love writing (but hates WR100.) Everything from the Cosmic Microwave Background to Artichoke Dip lies in the realm of conversational possibilities. Aromatic coffee, goose-bump inducing music and great reads make her life complete.

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