Since I am fairly new to feminism and have to do my fair share of unlearning subconscious sexist ways of thinking and have to reassess everything (Hint: Shaving your legs is okay. So is wearing make-up. It’s okay to like to do these things as well. The important thing is to realize WHY we do the things we do and how our society lambasts women who do not conform to “normal” beauty standards).
One of the things I’ve been rethinking is how society defaults to “male” in limitless categories. He, him, and all things related to “male” are considered the norm which can be extremely exclusionary towards women. It’s not as if men make up most of the population, as if the constant reference to “him” is because there are simply more of “him”. We are almost evenly split in the USA, with women leading a bit at 51%. It is considered an insult to be called a girl and it is a common phrase to tell women who want to get ahead in the workplace to “man up” or that they need to work as hard as the fellas. Women who are at the top are referred to by their gender, IE “woman CEO” or “woman doctor”. It is unheard of to speak of a “man CEO”. It is simply assumed that a man is in the position of power. When a woman is in a position of power, she is often asked: “How do you balance home and work?” The media has been scrutinizing Hillary and her potential run for presidency because she is a grandmother. A grandmother! How will she ever manage running a country and being a grandmother?! If you want to learn about how women contributed to history, you will be hardpressed to find anything in schoolbooks. History glazes over the topic and only a few colleges offer classes distinctly titled “Women’s Studies”. There is no “Men’s Studies” because everything taught is about men by default. Likewise, there’s no “Men’s Literature” section, “Men Flicks” or “Men’s Sports”.
This is devaluing to women and inherently sexist. We are not manic pixie dream girls. We are not here as supporting roles. Women are just as much a lead character as men are and yet are rarely given the chance. By using male as default, it perpetuates harmful stereotypes and continues to value men more than women. It also costs you more because why not charge twice as much for the same product only with a coat of putrid pink paint slapped on top? We have a long way to go to fully realize inclusivity. But recognizing sexism and calling it out wherever you can will help us move ever so slightly forward and at the very least, open up discussions that are important.
Bonus: Check out a compilation put together by The Society Pages of some examples of male as the norm.