Danielle Sucher had an idea while discussing ebooks with a friend: someone should create some sort of app or program that would swap the genders in ebooks, because wouldn’t that be enlightening? And then she thought, “Hey, why don’t I just do that myself?” And thus, Jailbreak the Patriarchy was born, and if you’re a Google Chrome user, you can try it out right now! (Don’t worry, it is reversible.)
Here is the basic description that appears on the download page:
Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing.
This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!
And indeed — try any news article, fictional work, etc. and see what happens when you apply the plugin. I conducted a search to find some short fiction to experiment with and found Sarah Salway, an author Neil Gaiman describes as “the Madonna of writing books. The dancing one, not the Mother of Jesus one.” Here is a short piece of hers, “Frippery — A 50-Word Photo Story”:
The millionaire doesn’t want to buy her. Just wants to borrow her. Then he’ll let her go, nearly as she was. She’ll have things to remember him by. Pretty things. Expensive things. And if they’re prettier, last longer and are more expensive than her, well, where’s the harm in that?
And with Jailbreak the Patriarchy applied:
The millionaire doesn’t want to buy him. Just wants to borrow him. Then she’ll let [him] go, nearly as he was. He’ll have things to remember her by. Pretty things. Expensive things. And if they’re prettier, last longer and are more expensive than him, well, where’s the harm in that?
See? Interesting, no?
Sucher admits that it isn’t 100 percent accurate at the moment, that there are still some kinks to be worked out. (For example, some pronouns don’t replace exactly right.) But she says that it’s given her a different perspective on things and that it’s been a valuable experience.
Even more interesting is that Sucher isn’t even a programmer! A criminal defense lawyer, she provides legal advice and specializes in helping transgendered people legally change their names. But she is also a chef, photographer, artist, glass jewelry maker, and beekeeper. Yes, beekeeper. She also makes julienne fries!
Installation of the plugin is super, super easy — done in, literally, the click of a button. We highly recommend it, for pure curiosity’s sake.