Since I am on a bit of a science fiction kick, except for yesterday’s little hiccup, I am going to continue on with the one more related post. The other day as I was reading my twitter feed, by the way you are welcome to follow me, I noticed a tweet claiming to be a fact.
The word “Android” refers only to a male looking robot, for one that looks like a female the proper term is “Gynoid”.
— iTweetFacts™ (@iTweetFacts) August 15, 2013
It raised an eyebrow when I read it. As far as I knew, the term gynoid did not exist. So i took to action, trying to figure out the truth and I had a strong feeling that it was bullshit, like many other tweets coming from the username. I’ll give them a break because they tweet about everything and no one can be an expert about everything. Although, I do prescribe to the idea that if you don’t know something you probably shouldn’t claim it as fact.
The Term Gynoid
Anyway, I started searching for the term. Gynoid does refer to a form resembling a female. From that simple fact, it can be seen why the term would be co-opted to refer to a robot. However, gynoid is actually the short form of the word gynecoid, which is a medical term. In the medical world it refers to one of two things, either the shape of the pelvis having the rounded form of a typical female or a way to categorize the distribution of fat in the hips and thighs. There is no doubt that gynecoid and, by derivation, gynoid refer to females. Nowhere is there any indication that the term is specific to robotics.
Theory on How Gynoid Emerged
I believe the term comes from the confusion with the word android. Android means the humanoid robot that most people associate it with. Although, we are reaching a point of saturation that people may just think of Google’s OS. While, the robotic meaning of android is still there, I discovered that it too is a medical term, but focused on males. It refers to the same two features as gynoid, but indicates the male difference. Since, android has both a medical definition and a common definition, I can understand how at one point someone attempted to merge the two together. This is complete speculation, but it is the most logical train of thought.
Is Robotic Gender Distinction Necessary?
As I researched this information, I came to realize that what irritated me was the separation between male and female even when it came robotics. To recognize that something is male versus female is alright, but I’m not sure if I like the use of gynoid. Maybe down the line the term will be more important. As it is, it isn’t an official term. Until it is, I won’t be using it because I don’t think it creates a rift between males and females. I think of it like dogs. A male is a dog. A female dog is a bitch. Yet, every time i go to the dog park they are all just referred to as dogs. (And yes, I know most people don’t just spout bitch in public places). Why should it be different for androids?
By definition an android is “a mobile robot usually with a human form”. There is no mention of gender whatsoever. For now, let’s keep it that way.