This trope is the tendency for people to refer to any animal that doesn't look obviously feminine by a masculine pronoun like "he" and assume it to be male. This leads to Tertiary Sexual Characteristics put more on female animals than on male ones. Trope examples come in three stock situations:
- Instances of characters seeing an animal and automatically referring to it as a male. For example, Bob sees a dog from a distance and calls "Here, boy!"
- Instances in which a character sees an animal that is obviously female, like a cow with udders or a bloodsucking mosquito and referring to it as male anyway. This leads to Animal Gender-Bender.
- Characters assuming an animal is male and then finding out otherwise.
- The Great Assumption Guest Post from Feministing.com discusses how any not obviously feminine looking animal is usually assumed to be male.
- The Dogs and Smurfs blogpost by Max Barry talks about this trope and Smurfette Principle.
- Overcoming the “dog/Smurf” problem, a blogpost by The View From Helicon, talks about how this trope can be overcome and averted and shows how some species can be sexed.
- True Tales of Gender Essentialism at the Dog Park from Shakesville.com talks about this trope and gender essentialism in dogs.
In Universe Fictional Examples:Film
- Inverted in Ladyhawke, in which Phillipe assumes the horse is female until Navarre points out he's overlooked something.
- Kevin the bird from Up was mistaken for male at first, but it turned out that she had chicks in tow.
- In Priest-Kings of Gor Tarl meets the Priest-Kings, the Physical Gods of the planet, which are basically 20 foot tall locusts. Misk the Priest-King, his friend, shows him the last male Priest-King, which Misk had hidden away from those which don't want another generation of Priest-Kings to replace the current generation. Until he sees that male, Tarl assumed that Misk and most of the other Priest-Kings he met were male. Since this is the only male, he now assumes that they're female. But no, they're not female either, they're neuter. The Mother of the Nest is the only female, and the male is the only male. There is one female egg hidden away; finding it beomes Tarl's Quest in the following book.
- A routine by Dan Rowan & Dick Martin (later of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In) involves a discussion about bees, during which Rowan (the straight man) says of the drone "he is neuter. He is neither male nor female." In real life, it's the workers bees, who are all female, who are sterile and neuter. The drones in a beehive are reproductive males.
- The Simpsons: In the educational/propaganda film "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom" Troy McClure refers to a cow as a he. "If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"
Real Life Examples:
- Averted, Inverted, or played with in Poland where animal gender is assumed based on gender of that animal name. For example Mickey Mouse (in Polish: Myszka Miki) is often mistaken to female and mosquitoes (in Polish: komar) are always asumed to be male even if female are one who suck blood.
- In a Real Life example, medieval beekeepers assumed that the Hive Queen bees were male, simply because they were bigger. Old records of beekeeping practices call them "kings".
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.