Jason (jcreed) wrote,

An argument I had with housemate norm:

Some friends were potentially coming over to the house, both female. We were discussing maybe watching a movie. Norm suggested "Ghost World" (a fine movie, which is adapted from a Dan Clowes graphic novelcomic about a coming-of-age-story of two young women finishing high school) and made some offhanded remark like "oh, they're women, they'll like it". I asserted that that was far from necessarily true, and besides which was sexist. He denied that it was sexist, since he based his assertion on the fact that (a) the protagonists are female and (b) it deals with themes of friendship and relationships, which, he claimed, allowed him to infer, statistically, that they (our guests) probably would like it. Now, (a) is obviously insufficient to make a movie a "chick-flick", given, oh, I don't know, "Tomb Raider", which is very obviously marketed to men (or at least people interested in an eyeful (or two, cough) of Angelina Jolie). And I doubt (b) is, either.

But really the issue is that the jump from "movie X seems like a movie that, stereotypically, girls would like more likely than guys" to actually believing that it's completely legitimate and reasonable to assert that some random girl you just met will like this movie because she's she. Not only is it a fallacy from the point of view of statistics, (hello, Bayes rule) but it feels surpassingly rude to me, somehow, even if it would happen that it successfully predicts preferences. As a person who claims to be all high and mighty and rational and scientfic all the fucking day long, this makes me a bit uneasy. Should there be anything wrong with understanding human behavior and what's a good predictor of it? It seemed like Norm was trying to argue starting with a no answer to this question. I always run up against the wrongness of implicitly acting as if you "know" a person, just knowing their gender. (resp. race, nationality, blah blah blah)

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