Working notes from the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism

Darija Medić: On the gaydar: A 100-year challenge for facial recognition

By relying on prenatal hormone theory and its implication for the connection between facial traits and hormonal influences on sexuality, the study reveals the presumption that sexuality is not a personal choice, but is bound by biology. If that relationship is understood as a given, the ramifications are far from subtle for further types of correlations based on facial recognition (racial, gender, and political discrimination just for starters).

To list a few of the issues at hand, prenatal theory relies on homogeneous datasets of individuals coming largely from one country. A physical ‘biological’ feature can have a different purpose, depending on the culture the individual is from. Sexuality, let alone gender, is also contextually different from culture to culture. Both are now largely accepted to be fluid, stemming from the research done by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s. And speaking of fluid, the ‘gaydar’ study referenced in the Guardian was created based on determining heterosexual and homosexual preferences; it doesn’t cover transgender and bisexual preferences. This limited spectrum of sexuality is questionable: How valid is the sample used? Does the approach used in the ‘gaydar’ study to define sexuality reduce our understanding of both gender and sexual preference as binary and naturally given?

Darija Medić
On the gaydar: A 100-year challenge for facial recognition
https://www.diplomacy.edu/blog/gaydar-100-year-challenge-facial-recognition

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