Danielle Sucher wants to re-gender what you read on the Internet.
Sucher, 32, currently works as a software developer for web and mobile consultancy 9mmedia. In 2011, she wrote a Chrome extension, "Jailbreak The Patriarchy," that swaps the gender of every pronoun and explicitly gendered term in any piece of writing the Jailbreak user reads on their browser.
This can lead to some funny -- and occasionally thought-provoking -- results.
Take for example this CNN editorial by Internet celebrity Joe Peacock. Peacock's article, "Booth Babes Need Not Apply," bashes "fake geek girls," women who he characterizes as "attention addict[s]." Here's how it sounds with the genders switched:
I call these boys "6 of 9". They have a superpower: In the real world, they're beauty-obsessed, frustrated wannabe models who can't get work.
They decide to put on a "hot" costume, parade around a group of girls notorious for being outcasts that don't get attention from boys, and feel like a celebrity. They're a "6" in the "real world", but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a "9".
They're poachers. They're a pox on our culture. As a gal, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty boy is in my presence. It's insulting.
Sucher says Jailbreak The Patriarchy has around 10,000 users, though she doesn't know the precise demographics: She knows, though, that it's been used in several Gender Studies classes (professors have written her grateful letters about it), and that her "community -- the liberal queer-type developer -- tends to get really excited about it."
Not everybody's excited. After the app's release, Sucher got some pretty nasty comments on her blog from those unimpressed with the idea of gender-swapping. A couple of examples:
"This seems like a really stupid idea ... what if the article you are reading is ACTUALLY about a guy, then it swaps all of the masculine nouns with their feminine counterparts? Stupid."
"If I put it in the kitchen, will it make me a sandwich?"
But the comments hardly seem to bother her, and Sucher herself hardly seems risk-averse.
"My dad always said that boredom was my kryptonite," she explained, listing among her other avocations artist, beekeeper, writer, fire-spinner, former attorney, former cook and co-manager of a New York City-based underground restaurant called Jack.
Jailbreak the Patriarchy, like many of Sucher's projects, was born on a whim. Sucher recalls a conversation with a friend about the merits of ebooks versus the more traditional kind. "I said the only reason I could possibly see for having ebooks was to gender-swap them and see how different it would be. Then I figured I could go home and just write something to do that for myself."
Sucher, the first female alumna of New York City's Hacker School, urges others to learn computer programming and try similarly whimsical projects. "What I really want to do with [Jailbreak] is find a way to inspire other people to make their own Google tools and realize [that] if there's something nagging you, you can just write some simple little script and fix that for yourself."