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In this question, I suggested that the subject of a photograph, posing in a Royal Italian Army uniform, might be a woman - a supposition later supported by the OP.

T.E.D claimed my suggestion could be seen as an attack on the 'manliness' of someone's ancestor! I find this sexist.

I have huge respect for all the moderators on H.S.E, and greatly appreciate T.E.D's expertise, but as one of the (sadly) few female members, I feel I have a duty to challenge sexism when I see it. 'Manliness' - however defined - does not rely on facial hair or broad shoulders.

Ironically, on closer inspection, the subject appears to be wearing an engagement ring on the left ring finger - not, AFAIK, a very manly habit!

History is about truth, not our current prejudices or sensitivities. The subject of the photograph appeared to me to be a woman, thus probably making the back story more interesting, not less. To see this as a slur on some ideological idea of 'manliness' is, putting it politely, unhelpful.

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    @justCal It might be instructive to voice such grievances in a separate meta-post? What you see might not be fixable, but it cannot be fixed or at least improved if the problems are not named, described, analyzed etc. Jun 12 at 14:13
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    I suspect TED meant only that some people might take offense, not that it is or should be viewed as an insult. Certainly, speaking for myself, I see nothing offensive about your comment.
    – Semaphore Mod
    Jun 12 at 17:01
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    @Semaphore Thank you, but the comments seemed to imply that I should not even raise - tentatively - the possibility. The Emperor's New Clothes?
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 12 at 17:08
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    Was this not answered by TED's other comments? Specifically: "my main concern here was avoiding deluging the poor poster with unasked for speculations about the 'manliness' of their ancestor". It seems like he just wanted to avoid a potential back-and-forth of comments focused on the person rather than the uniform, and even said in another comment that you were correct in bringing it up after the OP clarified some things.
    – Giter
    Jun 12 at 21:59
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    Upvoted this. While I might see things differently, well I am a dude, and if I'm being sexist about something due to that perspective difference, I'm going to have rely on users like Rose feeling comfortable enough to call me on it.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 12 at 22:28
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    Thank you for asking on meta. As uncomfortable as I find the discussion (because I find elements of both sides that make sense), I think it is important to have the discussion. In the end, I suspect that this question is probably not the right question on which to base policy/guidance/predecent (because there are multiple issues involved) but is the right question to discuss the issues. What kind of a site do we want to be? How do we want to discuss issues where the OP may have a sensitivity that is different from the general public. Good question.
    – MCW Mod
    Jun 14 at 12:44
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OK, I had to step back and think about this one a minute...

I'm guessing what you're thinking was being said there was that it was wrong to bring the topic up at all.

That's not what I was trying to say. In fact, if I felt that way, then I'd be the worse offender of the two of us, because my comment started off by agreeing with the speculation.

What I was hoping to avoid was a long comment thread arguing the merits pro and con for various possible genders of the subject in question. This site excels at those on questions, since that's sort of our collaborative method for solving them.

The problem in this case was that

  1. At the time there was no indication from the poster that they wanted that particular problem "solved". The question text was just asking to identify the uniform.
  2. Its not hard to think up scenarios where that kind of speculation would be quite unwelcome. Particularly since the subjects of photo ID questions tend to be the relatives of the posters.

Under those circumstances, two comments about it seemed plenty. Aggravation a person can let slide if it happens once or twice can easily become an emotional problem if the topic continues. So I would have preferred not to see more traffic on the subject unless the poster indicated that was OK.

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    Confused about the word "merits". If the person in pic is not army-standard 'male', the picture is not just more interesting, but to be read differently. As such it is always part of the Q? Ie: even with the exact given phrasing, w/o explicit exclusion by OP, I'd include it. Now, what does 'merits' mean? Users posting different arguments pro/con certain classification? (Why is that a problem? It's itself a plus? (unless you expect derogatory stuff, material for ample flags)) Or 'merit of being (fe)male itself'? (A problem in itself, amply seen here, but how should that apply here, at all?) Jun 13 at 21:52
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    @T.E.D - Whilst I did, frankly, find the suggestion that someone might find it offensive to suggest an (apparently) male subject might be female - and my comment could hardly have been more tentative - I see a wider issue here. You stated that "Form does too IMHO, but that's beside the point of the question, so probably none of our concern (unless the poster chooses to make it so) " (emphases mine). Such a response, particularly with the mod badge, seems to be suggesting that there are questions we cannot ask. I find this anti-intellectual and unacademic. 1/2
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 14 at 16:42
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    Human knowledge has progressed by people asking the unaskable - does the earth move round the sun? Are humans descended from early primates? As a child, at a church schoolI, I was warned I was moving into heresy. I do not believe there are any questions which are outside the pale of academic enquiry, and if the Emperor has no clothes, someone should tell him he's butt naked! Judging from the ensuing discussion, the question re the subject's gender made the question more, not less, fascinating. But because I asked it, and, frankly refused to be censored. Thanks 4 all u do.
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 14 at 16:51
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    Well again, I did not say, nor did I mean to imply, that it should not be asked. Just that it should not be dwelt on until such time as the OQ verified that the topic was actually within their question, and welcome.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 14 at 17:37
  • @TheHonRose I really don’t think this issue compares to that of evolution or heliocentrism. Jun 17 at 0:06
  • @Fivesideddice Of course not, but it's still suggesting some questions should not even be asked!
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 17 at 13:36
  • @At T.E.D I raised the possibility, once, very tentatively. That is hardly "dwelling on it"!
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 17 at 13:38
  • @TheHonRose - I agree.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 17 at 15:24

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