Are Facebook’s relationship status options a little bit sexist?

[Editor’s note: Granted, everyone’s a little bit sexist. But because the headline might imply otherwise, I should really tell you upfront I’m only talking about one of them.]

Facebook made a lot of headlines today with the announcement that it will now allow its users to choose from among fifty different descriptors of gender:

In a nod to the “it’s complicated” sexual identities of many of its users, the social network on Thursday added a third “custom” gender option for people’s profiles. In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”

[Editor’s note: Gender fluid certainly does sound like it would go nicely with a seafood dinner and a box of chocolate.]

The new options appear to be quite progressive, but is Facebook really just trying to cover up some of the other ways in which it is insensitive to gender differences? Just take a look at the various relationship statuses from which the service asks its users to choose:

facebook relationship status options

In case you aren’t seeing what I am, allow me to draw your attention to the final item on that list: “Widowed.” It’s a word you certainly know, but come check the definition with me one more time:

widow definition

Single, In a Relationship, Married, Divorced, etc. — every other option on Facebook’s list works equally well for anyone, whether male, female, transgender, cisgender, gender fluid, intersex, neither, or something else. But only the definition of the word “widow” — and by extension, “widowed, to make a widow” — begins with the words “a woman who…”

So next time I log on, Mark Zuckerberg, I want to be able to select a different option: “widowered”:

widower definition

And honestly, why stop there? If Facebook users can customize their genders, why restrict the options we can use to define our relationships? I can’t be the only one who misses the mystery of “Random Play” and “Whatever I can get.”


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