I apparently grew up in an abnormal household. My dad exposed us to a lots of musicals as children. Every road trip, every cleaning day, and well pretty often outside of that as well musicals were on. Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Showboat were in many ways the sound track of my childhood. Well that and a seemingly strange companion: 1980s heavy metal.
We'd listen to the major general song from Pirates of Penzance then we'd listen to Motley Crue's Girls, Girls, Girls (NSFW). My brothers would be wearing leather biker jackets and singing Memory from Cats. This didn't strike any of us as strange. Once I got into high school I started being informed that my enjoyment of musicals might cause people to call my sexuality into question, I assume the same happened with my brothers. On moving to Colorado this has gotten a lot worse. Pretty much every time my enjoyment of musicals comes up (which is often) around a new person I get the question.
So it is with some annoyance that when I went to youtube today that it was suggesting a large number of LGBT videos. Now I've been mistaken for gay many times in my life and it doesn't bother me at all. What annoys me is the assumption of homosexuality based on an activity that is not in any way related to sexuality.
Why are there these arbitrary lines about what a man should be? A man does not like musicals! But why? What should it matter if I enjoy something that other people with a unrelated shared trait don't? Societal standards and expectations of men lower the standard of living for all men. Men are forced to enjoy certain things. If they do not they are made fun of. Men are forced to not enjoy certain things. If they do they are made fun of. This means that men are limited in their life choice. Not allowed to find the activities and joys that will truly make them happy.
This is of course in no way limited to societal expectations of men. Societal pressure on women are just as problematic for similar reasons although with much more serious consequences for both the the woman herself and society at large. Women don't like math and science according to society, just learn how to apply your makeup - which means that the world has fewer engineers and scientists. Which means that the world has less knowledge and technology than it otherwise would. We'll never know what knowledge has been lost due to societal pressure and restrictions on women over the centuries. These pressures are not based in any biological differences between men and women as many claim:
Asians are stereotyped as being good at math whereas women are not and researchers wanted to know if this could potentially influence test scores. It can and it did. In this random sample of Asian-American girls, the Asian-primed group scored higher than the female-primed group scored lower but both scored lower than the control.
This of course brings us back to youtube's assumption regarding my sexuality. I'm sure that youtube doesn't use people's opinions on musicals to generate those LGBT videos. Instead they use complicated algorithms that have determined that there is a correlation between people liking musicals and videos on LGBT issues. They're trying to be helpful. What, then, is the harm in the algorithm finding that correlation? It serves to strengthen the stereotype that musicals and homosexuality are correlated. Which, unfortunately, is still seen as a negative correlation by large portions of America. A young woman likes disney princesses does that same algorithm expect that she won't have any interest in a science video? The algorithm itself isn't bad, but the ideas that it re-enforces definitely can be.
Equally problematic, the correlations mean that people are only encouraged into interact with the ideas that they are already exposed to. A person can enjoy 80s Heavy Metal and musicals, a person can like disney princesses and quantum physics. If an algorithm some where puts a person into a box and only shows them things that are related to what they like they aren't challenged. Both intellectually and culturally people aren't challenged to expand their interests.
Each person on earth has a unique set of interests and skills. Society then takes those unique interests and skills and tells them to fit into a few small boxes based on societal expectations of people 'like them.' This is not healthy. Not for individuals, not for society. Accept yourself in all your divergent interests. Accept others in theirs. Forget the correlations, either mathematically derived or based on societal opinion. Forget them and help the world become a richer place for it.