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Thread: Delusions of Gender -- Must read for everybody, but especially genderqueers

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Fierce View Post
    I feel sorry for that poor kid, too. :-(

    And here is a disgusting article that says in m/f partnerships where the male does traditionally male roles and the female takes traditionale female roles, there is more sex.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow...213917047.html
    That article is kind of strikingly bad. I usually play devil's advocate, but the author just missed so much, I really can't.

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  2. #102
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    The tagline says "Men: want more sex? Do less dishes" or something like that.
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  3. #103
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    This is a really fascinating thread. The whole culture of "boy stuff" and "girl stuff" has always interested me. My parents never pushed any of that on us. If my brother and I wanted to play barbies, that was cool. His favorite color was pink and he had a giant hot pink comforter on his bed. My favorite color was green. When I was five, dad knitted me a green scarf and my brother a pink one.

    With my own kids, I just treat them like individual people and try to accommodate their interests and likes. My 18 month old son loves cars, balls, baby dolls, hot pink, and anything with glitter or sequins (who can blame him? That shiny stuff must look amazing to a baby!). He has a hot pink and black stroller and sometimes wears his sister's socks when he has a growth spurt and I can't afford new ones right away.

    My five year old daughter adores fairies, pink, glitter, princesses, and Disney anything. Sh also loves robots, math, snakes, dragons, and those Ninjago Lego warrior guys. We recently built a robot dragon together, and it was fabulous.

    One time some random person got all uppity at me for having my son in a pink stroller. My mom jumped in before I could say anything. She told them that if several generations of American men, including their ancestors, could spend the first five years of their lives wearing frilly white dresses then her grandson having a pink stroller was not in any way going to damage him.

    The culture thing is interesting to me because even though I grew up in the US, I wasn't raised to fit into the stereotypical roles as a girl. My mom is Greek, and comes specifically from the Maniote clan which are basically what's left of the Spartans. Some of the values that have been held onto are the expectations that every kid be strong, resilient, polite, very direct when speaking to people, and learn useful things. There's a big emphasis on being strong and tough, but it's applied equally to all the kids. To my family, I'm their idea of a good normal girl. To people outside my family, I'm a tomboy. Personally, I just feel like a girl.

    My dad is half Blackfoot and half Anglo. He grew up in an orphanage until he was a teenager though, and didn't experience much in the way of parenting when he was younger so he was happy to follow my mom's lead when it came to raising kids.


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  4. #104
    Attack me with everything you have. Kim Fierce's Avatar
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    The weird part is, the same person who chastised you for having your son in a pink stroller would probably say nothing if you had a daughter in a blue stroller.

    I read somewhere that one or maybe two hundred years ago, boys where dressed in pink and girls in blue, but I need to find out where I read that!

    http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/20...for-the-girls/ Here we go!

    "A Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

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  5. #105
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    Yeah, pink was too close to red and that was too sexual for the Victorians. It wasn't even that long ago. During the civil war men still liked to wear pink and floral prints, and women were happy in blue, pink, red, whatever. At the time Sears and Roebuck's most popular color combinations for women's clothing were blue and brown, and purple and green.

    Since yesterday I've been trying to figure out whether the boys in our family had any pressures put on them that girls didn't. We probably do emphasize more to the boys to be protective. A large number of my male family members end up in law enforcement.

    Although, girls aren't discouraged from it. One time some bully kid clubbed my little brother on the head with a huge rock, so I knocked him flat on his back. My parents were really happy with me about it, but other than being encouraging if an incident happened they didn't go out of their way to encourage us to intervene like they did for the boys.

    Edit: Also about the blue for girls, if you look at almost every single painting of the virgin Mary she's wearing some shade of blue. Some of that plays into it being suitable for little girls in their minds.
    Last edited by Canotila; 02-02-2013 at 09:18 AM.


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  6. #106
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    Red is the color of blood and war and revolution. Pink is just a lighter shade of it. Blue is cool and peaceful and retiring. It is the color of the ocean.
    I think there was historically some semantic connection between 'mare', ocean, and 'Mary', if not in a literal sense, then at least in people's minds, prompting the color associations.

  7. #107
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    Wow, just finished reading this entire thread... My 2 cents:

    I agree with Cordelia Fine to the extent that there is a lot of neurosexism and biases in which data to present, making these studies completely worthless for actually saying, "Girls are like X, boys are like Y."

    In my opinion, it is entirely social gender roles that dictate the differences between people based on what's between their legs. (This isn't counting transfolks, who don't identify with what's between their legs. I don't know enough about genderqueer vs. trans to comment intelligently here.)

    I read Fine's book about a year and a half ago, and I was kind of irked that there was no mention of trans traits.

    How I would say it is as follows: gender is socially imprinted on people via stereotypes. Trying to get every trans person to act out the stereotypes of their preferred gender is ridiculous, because cisgendered people don't fit all those boxes perfectly either.

    A personal gripe of mine is that I read somewhere that, in Australia at least, you need to explain to a psychiatrist why you are the opposite gender without relying on "I want to be." But if it's all socially defined, then the only way to do so is to shoehorn yourself into stereotypes. (This was touched on by someone else on a previous page.)

    Honestly? I think the only differences caused by estrogen vs. testosterone are bodily - not on the mysterious realm of mental processes.

    There's a problem in philosophy in that we don't know was consciousness really is. There's nowhere in the brain where we can point and go, "Look, it's a sentient being!" Mind does not equal brain is a common explanation of this. The problem then becomes how you define this nonphysical mind... As yet, there have been no reasonable, let alone testable, theories, for how to define the mind if it is not just the brain, but the corollary is that there have also been no reasonable, testable theories to pinpoint somewhere in the brain for consciousness.

    It's a personal interest of mine to come up with an answer for that, but that's a very hard thing to do.

    But if we can't even define somewhere in the mind that is our conscious thoughts and sentient observances, then how can any brain scan, regardless of which scan it is, or what software you use, or what statistics model there is available, how can that tell you anything about "men vs. women"?

    If we were all just a bag of chemicals, then more testosterone would make people act like stereotypical men (if testosterone had any bearing on that, of course) and likewise for estrogen and stereotypical women. Because we don't satisfy the end result (I sure don't, and I'm part of the "human" subset) then the initial cause is inaccurate. It's a case of A->B. A always leads to B - that's the theory. So if you don't have B, then you don't have A either. (Note that if you did have B, it wouldn't necessarily mean A either, as you could have C->B as well.) But without B (which we don't have) then A (being a bag of chemicals only) is wrong. Hence, sentient decision-making.

    And like I said, we can't pinpoint that in the brain, so any theories trying to say what gender means will only ever be accurate by pure coincidence, with no way of knowing which one is accurate, if any, because a part of gender must be within sentience.

    It's an unsolvable mathematical equation at present. And even if we could pinpoint sentience, there'd be a hell of a battle in trying to say what those chemicals actually do - my hunch is that it'd all be probabilities. I mean, if you had a 100% part, then the interlocking nature of things would presumably mean that every other aspect would come down to either 100% or 0% - drawing us back to "2 people with same chemical levels would be identical" - in theory.

    Okay, I'm rambling... But yeah, these are the things I've been thinking about while reading this thread.
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  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    Honestly? I think the only differences caused by estrogen vs. testosterone are bodily - not on the mysterious realm of mental processes.
    Except they affect specific regions of the brain and body. There's a reason women are more emotional at peak estrogen levels; there's a reason testosterone makes us more aggressive and quick-tempered.

    (There's a reason mammals act differently when they're gelded, and females when they're in heat)

    This American Life did an episode in 2002 about the effects of losing testosterone or increasing/gaining testosterone:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi...0/testosterone

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  9. #109
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    Estrogen and testosterone _definitely_ have mental effects. But they interact in a complex way with other things, some cultural and some neurological and some personal experience, so it's not a simple line or anything.
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  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    Estrogen and testosterone _definitely_ have mental effects. But they interact in a complex way with other things, some cultural and some neurological and some personal experience, so it's not a simple line or anything.
    It absolutely isn't. There are so very many variables that I think the best we can hope to arrive at in terms of neurological differences between sexes are very broad distinctions given the very broad kinds of distinctions we can make about almost anything neurological, in part because we now know that the brain retains surprising levels of plasticity even for seniors in their 80s and over.

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  11. #111
    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    What I was trying to say wasn't so much about the brain itself - it was about the aforementioned nonphysical mind.

    I'm trying to think of a good way to explain it... The debate in philosophy doesn't necessarily say there is a nonphysical mind, but nobody's proven either way. Personally, I'm coming down on a nonphysical sentience.

    So brain =/= mind. Testosterone and estrogen may well affect the brain (which seems to be generally agreed upon) but the mind, in my opinion, is capable of overriding the "bag of chemicals" reactions of the brain.

    As in, a surge in testosterone *may* make you feel more aggression, but this doesn't mean you have to act on it - your mind is the part that controls your actions.

    So bringing it back to the conversation of gender - my having more testosterone than a cis woman doesn't mean much (if anything) to my mind, because it is my mind that decides how to behave - not my brain.

    Again, this is just my way of looking at things. I wasn't saying that the physical chemicals of estrogen and testosterone don't operate differently in the brain. But brain =/= mind, if you subscribe to the theory of nonphysical sentience, which nobody has been able to rule out so far.
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  12. #112
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    I should hasten to add that there *is* room for the brain to affect the mind, or at least that this cannot be ruled out.

    But my intuition tells me it's not the chemicals that link the two. I'd go with some undiscovered property of physics, not chemistry.
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  13. #113
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    Also, while hormones can affect brain chemistry, that's a different matter than hormones affecting a person's personality or identity.

  14. #114
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    Quite right.
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  15. #115
    Kind of a big deal CharacterInWhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    There's a reason women are more emotional at peak estrogen levels; there's a reason testosterone makes us more aggressive and quick-tempered.
    This is exactly the sort of gross over-generalization that's been setting the field back.

    You would be hard pressed to actually boil behaviour down to just testosterone and estrogen. The biggest mistake any argument makes to the contrary is ignoring the phrase "correlation does not equal causation." There are at least as many studies showing no differences between the behaviour of men and women following hormone supplements as there are studies that do--and Fine has already covered the confirmation biases in these supposed "positive" studies where differences are found.
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  16. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    This is exactly the sort of gross over-generalization that's been setting the field back.

    You would be hard pressed to actually boil behaviour down to just testosterone and estrogen.
    Do you see me saying that? No. Because that would be stupid.

    And for the love of the written word, please go back and read what I actually wrote; it's really not that hard to parse.

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  17. #117
    Kind of a big deal CharacterInWhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    Do you see me saying that? No. Because that would be stupid.
    Except it's exactly what you said. I quoted your post in my reply.

    You didn't even try to sugarcoat your generalizations. You said women are more emotional, that people are more aggressive at peak testosterone levels. You're the language expert. You're using "to be" and sweeping generalizations--how else am I supposed to interpret that? I'm reading assertions on hormone effect as if they are indisputable, and more importantly, equitable with gendered behaviour. Of course I'm going to call you out on it when the accuracy of your statements is scientifically dubious.
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  18. #118
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    Except it's exactly what you said. I quoted your post in my reply.
    No, you didn't. I wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    Except they affect specific regions of the brain and body. There's a reason women are more emotional at peak estrogen levels; there's a reason testosterone makes us more aggressive and quick-tempered.

    (There's a reason mammals act differently when they're gelded, and females when they're in heat)

    This American Life did an episode in 2002 about the effects of losing testosterone or increasing/gaining testosterone:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi...0/testosterone
    There's nothing there that's a "gross over-generalization."

    I've put the specific sections that are important in red—and I'll note that you left out the rest of the post, and labeled it a "gross over-generalization."

    Nor did I ever assert that

    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    You would be hard pressed to actually boil behaviour down to just testosterone and estrogen.
    Because that would be stupid. But estrogen and testosterone have profound effects.

    Have you ever read about the effects of testosterone? Or experienced them? What about the effects of estrogen?

    They do profoundly affect the way people behave and act.

    And people process them differently—as do the sexes—all of them, not just the two most people include.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    You didn't even try to sugarcoat your generalizations. You said women are more emotional, that people are more aggressive at peak testosterone levels.
    Again, you left out the qualifying statements.

    Why ? What's your agenda? What are you really trying to argue?

    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    You're the language expert. You're using "to be" and sweeping generalizations--how else am I supposed to interpret that?
    Yes, I really am an expert, and you're really reading badly.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    I'm reading assertions on hormone effect as if they are indisputable, and more importantly, equitable with gendered behaviour. Of course I'm going to call you out on it when the accuracy of your statements is scientifically dubious.
    Did you listen or read the transcript I linked to?

    Have you actually experienced what it's like to be given massive doses of estrogen or testosterone (I have)? Have you read about things like the changing effects of estrogen and testosterone during menopause? And the roles testosterone and estrogen play in the menstrual cycle and why women have mood swings tied to their cycle, and the complex cocktails of endorcines and hormones that pour into our bloodstream in times of stress and change?

    Have you looked into why cis-gendered men and women are given estrogen and testosterone supplements to counteract depression and inactivity? Are you aware that both sexes produce and require both hormones in a delicate balance?

    Here are some sources on estrogen and some on testosterone:

    We may not fully understand why they affect us as they do, but they do affect us.

    One of the difficult parts of hormone therapies is adjusting the balance for each individual patient. It gets very complex, very quickly, and a dose that works perfectly for years, may suddenly stop working well, and the patient may find themselves constantly waging war with their psyche.

    In your OP you wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterInWhite View Post
    Hello QUILTBAG,

    My previous attempts to open constructive gender dialogue have failed horribly (especially in the erotica subforum), but I'm going to try again with two major differences: a non-fiction recommendation that's primed my debate, and an audience that's interested in gender studies precisely because their personal experiences generally don't fit in the neat binary boxes that Western thinking creates. Disclaimer: I identify as "genderqueer" myself, and find the sort of team mentality between men and women (in general) to be baffling at best and alienating at worst--so of course I'm going to gravitate towards scholarly material that attacks said team mentality.
    I'd like to suggest that possibly the reason your previous efforts to "open constructive gender dialog" are failing have to do with you. You're not interested in a dialog. You want a black-and-white statement that it's all the same.

    It may be for you, but that doesn't mean it is for everyone.

    In terms of Fine's book, yes obviously the research that suggests men are better at math always and women at "communication" are absurd. But she ignores any relevant research about what may be real differences in terms of the brain and neurological responses.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 02-17-2013 at 02:29 AM.

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  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Science Daily
    Male rat pups have more of a specific brain protein associated with language development than females, according to a study published February 20 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The study also found sex differences in the brain protein in a small group of children. The findings may shed light on sex differences in communication in animals and language acquisition in people.
    I think it's early days yet to jump to conclusions, but the research is interesting. You can read the Science Daily summary of the research; the original research was published February 20 in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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  20. #120
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    On the issue of gender, I think this was an interesting news story:
    A little girl’s school assignment has generated impassioned debate online after her father, blogger Steve Bowler, sparked outrage by posting the third-grader’s worksheet, which dealt with gender stereotypes.

    Dad, who designs and blogs about video games (@gameism on Twitter), pointed out his daughter's unsuccessful attempt to separate items into three categories: boys, girls and both. On Saturday, he posted her completed worksheet and tweeted: "Proud my 8yo girl failed this worksheet. Wish she had failed it even 'worse.' #GenderBias"

    Based on the image alone, Bowler tweeted that it looked like his daughter’s class was asked to sort activities and products like "Barbies" and "Erector sets" into gender columns. She crowded all the answers into a column labeled "Both," and the teacher wrote at the bottom, "We talked about how each square needs to be filled in."

    "My wife brought [the worksheet] to my attention Friday night when we were looking through her schoolwork folder," Bowler told HuffPost via email, adding that his daughter hadn't complained about the assignment herself.

    And yet, the image went viral (to the tune of more than 6,600 retweets) -- unleashing outrage from parents, teachers and others on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and more corners of the web.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2078363.html
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  21. #121
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    I completely agree with you. There may be averages, but even those are often hard to separate from social context (in some countries, for instance, women do as well, or better, than men in Math, on average). And once you look at an individual man or woman, there will be numerous ways in which they depart from the "average" for their gender. This seems so obvious as to be trite, yet the web, and even academia (for all it's accused of being so PC and liberal), is full of people who love to pontificate on the "real" differences between the sexes. People eat them up like popcorn, never mind they know plenty of exceptions to all these "rules."

    I don't know why people love this kind of "pop psychology" so much. I guess it gives them permission to be bad at the things they're bad at (if they coincide with the so-called gender norms) and to feel good about the ways they "exceed expectations" for their gender. But every time some half baked or preliminary study that finds a "real biological" basis for a stereotyped gender difference, the media is all over it. But they ignore any previous or subsequent studies that refute the data.

    It's not just gender stuff. There is still a lot of people who insist they're "either" right brain or left brain, in spite of that notion being very outdated.

    But (mis)using biology to reinforce or overgeneralize about gender stereotypes is very handy for people with political agendas, or bitter guys who can't get dates with women and have convinced themselves that their lives would be wonderful if women and men would just go back to the old ways that just worked soooooo well for everyone for thousands of years.
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  22. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    It's not just gender stuff. There is still a lot of people who insist they're "either" right brain or left brain, in spite of that notion being very outdated.
    I always thought that was more of an idiom than something to be taken literally?
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  23. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    I completely agree with you. There may be averages, but even those are often hard to separate from social context (in some countries, for instance, women do as well, or better, than men in Math, on average). And once you look at an individual man or woman, there will be numerous ways in which they depart from the "average" for their gender.
    You're talking about sex not gender.

    And one of the reasons that this kind of thing makes me go o_O is that it bulldozes people who are trans.

    And it does it in particularly cruel ways, while the people doing it are safely oblivious.

    Sex is not gender.

    Gender is a social construct. Sex is biological, and for a number of very complex, often confusing reasons, gender may be closely associated with sex, but (especially in a QUILTBAG context) gender is emphatically not the same as sex.

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  24. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
    I always thought that was more of an idiom than something to be taken literally?
    That's a sort of collateral damage effect from people misinterpreting the (now antiquated) bicameral mind studies (which predate fMRI).

    So think of hard line right/left brain assertions as the psycho-neuro equivalent of referring to the dark ages in a historical context.

    It is, btw, one of the reasons I keep bringing up first language in the context of neuro imaging; language shapes thoughts, and brains.

    ASL native speakers, hearing or not, have noticeably different fMRI images than native English or Japanase speakers.

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  25. #125
    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Dragon View Post
    On the issue of gender, I think this was an interesting news story:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2078363.html
    What I can't figure out is--what the hell is the point of such a worksheet?

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