So, there’s a new quiz going around Facebook, sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust, in honour of “Book Week Scotland 2013.” You answer a couple of demographic questions, and then a few Myers-Briggs style questions, and the quiz tells you which literary character you most resemble. I got Coraline. And then I started noticing the results popping up on Facebook. One friend got Mary Jane from Spiderman. Another got Alice (from Alice in Wonderland). And then, the first of my male friends to do so took the quiz and got Atticus Finch. Atticus, I thought. He’s a grown-up! And kind of a hero. And that’s when I realized that the M or F question in the demographic section was actually affecting the results in a way that, for instance, the age range question wasn’t. (I’m 44, but this didn’t stop me from getting Coraline.) So, I tried taking the quiz with all the same answers, but answering M instead of F. I got Hercule Poirot. Now, I’ll grant that Coraline is smart and capable, but she’s no Hercule Poirot. I know I’m gonna piss off Gaiman nerds here, but no smart, capable lonely child quite measures up to one of literature’s most brilliant detectives.
So, I urged others to take the quiz both ways. One friend who’d gotten Mary Jane as an F got Jean Valjean as an M. So, as F she got a spunky, attractive love interest (Blergh. Now I’m pissing off the Spiderman nerds.) versus a rich, complex, grown-up, noble hero type character. Huh. I got my daughter to take it both ways. She got Hermione Granger and Dr. Watson. Prompted by my challenge on Facebook, another friend took it both ways and got Albus Dumbledore and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don’t have anything as robust as a hypothesis about this yet. Scout’s a pretty good character. So are Coraline and Hermione. And Watson is clearly sidekick rather than a hero. So, I’m not claiming that the female characters are worse than the male ones. I’m a little worried that slightly more of the female characters are children/youth, or from fiction aimed at youth, or from books with pictures rather than just text (And *now* I’ve pissed off the graphic novel nerds. So sorry. I get that they’re genuine literature. Really, I do.)
And, I get that the canon (at least the well-known mainstream canon; we probably can’t expect Scottish Libraries to use Fun Home in their public outreach, alas.) isn’t an embarrassment of riches when it comes to awesome, well-rounded female characters. So, I’m not bummed at Scotland or anything.
But, I’m really interested in some of gaps between outcomes attendant upon a mere M/F. Choice. At this point, my sample is too small to draw any conclusions. But if you’re interested in taking the quiz and sharing your results in the comments below, that would be kind of cool. And, if you have any reflections on the results you’re seeing, that would be cool too!
(What better way to celebrate Book Week, right?)