Saturday, August 17, 2013

When Is Sex Not Like Pizza? The Default Male

I'm sure most people have heard this dumbass quote before:

Haha so funny!  And so true!  Right?  Well, I hate this quote.  Not because I hate pizza (I don't!) or sex (I don't!) or funny quotes (I don't!).  I hate it because it's a really blatant example of the "default male" position.  Unless something is specifically about a woman, it's probably about a guy instead.  It's really obvious that it's a dude who came up with that line, and the woman in the picture is probably laughing at him for it.  For guys, sex is always good!  Even if it's bad!  Because hey, it might not be fantastic, but you still come in the end, right?  This quote is completely accurate, for a guy.  Ignore how "bad sex" for a woman ranges from feeling unsatisfied in the end or feeling nothing at all the whole time, to feeling a lot of pain and discomfort.  Female experiences get ignored because male is the default, so even bad sex is good because guys somehow forget that women also have sex and hey it's totally different for us over here.  This next piece of advice from the Actual Advice Mallard meme gives a solid, presumably gender-neutral in practice relationship tip...but uses a female pronoun because it assumes you are a Default Male* dating a woman.
*Yes, it could also assume you are a lesbian, but if you argue that then you're just appropriating actual LGBT issues in order to pretend that you're open minded when we all know you were thinking of  a heterosexual relationship.  LGBT people have serious issues to deal with, and you aren't helping them by hiding behind their language while reinforcing cis-hetero defaults.

Individual examples like the ones I've provided might not seem like very much, and anybody reading this probably thinks I'm making a big deal over nothing.  Two little pictures, who cares!  But it's not just two pictures.  Everywhere you look, men are assumed to be the default.  Movies with female protagonists stand out, because almost every film has a male protagonist.  It's assumed that a story will be about a man, so it's notable when it isn't.  Many women who have heart attacks don't realize that's what they're having, because men and women show different symptoms, because it's the male symptoms that everyone is taught about.  Crash test dummies are designed after the average male body, which leads to women being injured or killed more often in accidents because the safety designs are not made with the average female body in mind.  Finding out Samus or anybody else is a woman in games or stories is a Huge Twist, because when you didn't have any prior evidence that they were female, you assumed they were male.  If a job has different titles for men and women who are doing it, the man's job will be the actual job title (actor, councilman, waiter, etc).

For the most part, these are individual little things that, one-on-one, don't amount to much at all.  Like how getting one litte mosquito bite isn't a  big deal in the grand scheme of things.  But when you face an endless barrage of little bites like that, not only is it disheartening, it can be dangerous (see heart attacks, crash test dummies).  It really sucks to look everywhere and find that in most places you are the other, the stranger, that whenever something addresses its audience it makes it clear that you, woman, you are not part of this audience.  You are not who we are talking to, you are not welcome, you can stick around if you like but we will always remind you that we will ignore your perspective.  Also, seriously, the heart attack and crash test things are for realsies dangerous.  I started this blog post just to complain about that first pizza quote and the general existance of the "default male" but the more I thought about it and what it included, the shittier I felt.  Now I'm afraid to do any sort of research on this topic because I really don't want to find out any other ways that society is basically saying health and safety for women is way too much work if it means we have to try new, less male-exclusive testing methods.  I'd rather just live in blissful ignorance, thanks.  Maybe if I plug my ears and hum 24/7 I can convince myself that sexism is over.  Hmmm hmmm, la la la la, oh look the Advice Mallard is pretending that slut-shaming is advice.  Maybe my next post should just be a series of terrible Advice Mallards that I make fun of.

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