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Men Are Generic, Women Are Special

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Choose your gender: Everyman or Magical Girl.

"If a smash hit has mostly male characters, nobody raises an eyebrow, but if it has mostly female characters, it's a Great Big Anomaly worth several trees' worth of shocked speculation."
Sarah Morayati, author of the Interactive Fiction work Broken Legs, in an interview discussing gender in fiction

In media, male is the default, "normal" form of humanity, while female is a special subcategory reserved just for women. This meta-trope is Older Than Feudalism and is found not only in fiction, but is ingrained into many human societies and cultures. The technical term for this is "androcentrism."

Take the English language, for example. The terms "Man" and "Mankind" are often used to represent humanity in general, whereas "Woman" and "Womankind" only ever refer to humans of the female gender. Many job titles, such as fireman and mailman, assume maleness, even though there are female firefighters and mail carriers. People often specify that someone is a "female doctor" or "female author", but generally don't say "male doctor" because that is already assumed.note  If the gender of a person is unknown, it is sometimes argued that the traditional proper pronoun to use is "he" (e.g. "Everyone comes to a point in his life...") – though "singular they" goes back to Geoffrey Chaucer but remains controversial even today, reflecting this trope. Certain languages like French and Spanish take this concept even further, having two words for "They"; a masculine and feminine form, but if there is a mixed group of men and women the masculine is the default. In fact, this is correct even for a group of any number of women, and one single man.

Grammatically speaking, in languages featuring gender, masculinity generally prevails and is the default. Adjectives and past participles, as well as nouns for humans, are overwhelmingly masculine by default; feminine equivalents are always derivative, with specific suffixes. For example, in French, a female hunter is "chasseuresse" or "chasseuse", with the feminine suffixes "-esse" and "-euse" attached to the masculine form "chasseur"; in German, you add "-in", so a (male) chancellor is "Kanzler" and a female one is "Kanzlerin"; in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, you swap "-o" for "-a", or stick "-a" to the masculine forms. The use of feminine words is pretty much always exclusive, in that a person or group of people have to be known explicitly as all-female only for the words to be usable; if there is even a hint of ambiguity, like say a theoretical group of "1000 women and 1 man", languages will default to masculine words, be it pronouns or nouns. Feminine-by-default nouns are generally reserved for higher, more abstract concepts such as "humanity", "manliness", "affliction", etc. rather than anything to do with concrete biological sex. The only notable exceptions are animals: many words for animals are feminine by default, and they refer to a species as a whole (which results in expressions such as the grammatically feminine French phrase "une girafe mâle" ("a male giraffe")), and to a lesser extent, specifically the female animals of that species (e.g. French "une chèvre" ("a (female) goat"); still, masculine derivatives are extremely rare (e.g. French "un girafeau" ("a baby giraffe")), and the males tend to have their own words instead (e.g. French "un bouc" ("a male goat").

The trope can be observed in many different elements of society and culture. "Unisex" fashion tends to be built around men's fashion; jeans and shirts are worn by both sexes, but dresses and skirts are exclusive to women in most of the Western world (with the famous exception of the kilt). T-shirts are typically sold in two cuts, women's and mens, but men's T-shirts are sometimes sold as "unisex tees." Most androgynous names (like Jordan or Taylor) started out as men's names. The restroom sign for a man is a featureless stick figure, but the sign for a woman is a stick figure in a dress. (One could imagine an alternate universe where women are represented as a featureless stick figure, and men are represented with a cowboy hat.) Furthermore, it is generally considered far more acceptable to make broad generalizations about men or assume the entirety of the male gender can/should be held accountable for the actions of some males (How many times have you seen women write off all men after a bad relationship with a single man?). Women, meanwhile, are expected to be viewed as individuals whose actions and behaviors do not reflect on women as a whole. In the eyes of society, male is default, and women are basically men plus or minus something else.

This phenomenon carries Unfortunate Implications for both male and female characters when used in fiction. The main problem for male characters is that maleness is not special in the way femaleness is, and is often undervalued to the point of being disposable; men's actions are less likely to be judged based on their gender, which gives them more freedom to act, but the consequences for their actions are likely to be magnified. The implication for female characters is that femaleness is special in a way that maleness isn't or, to put it more bluntly, being male is "normal", while being female is "abnormal", which can either mean superior to men or inferior.

This leads to The Smurfette Principle, in which a character's femaleness is the most important and interesting thing about her, often to exclusion of all else. It also tends to result in works failing The Bechdel Test, because if there's a potential character who doesn't have to be any particular gender, the role will probably be filled by a male character by default. It may or may not be the result of Gender Rarity Value. Sexy Dimorphism inverts this, by giving male monsters varied designs and making female monsters into Cute Monster Girls that don't look that different.

Likely exacerbated by the fact that Most Writers Are Male.

Probably the parent to Men Act, Women Are and Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty. See High-Heel–Face Turn for when being a woman becomes a Chekhov's Gun for a Heel–Face Turn. Compare Men Are the Expendable Gender and Samus Is a Girl.


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  • An Alberto VO 5 hairspray commercial featuring the actress Rula Lenska is, depending on your viewpoint, an homage to or a parody of the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number described in Films — Live-Action below.

    Anime & Manga 
  • A justified example from Attack on Titan. The "Female Titan" (in Japanese 女型の巨人, literally "Female-Type Giant"), controlled by Annie Leonhart, is given her name simply due to having a female physique, and she remains the only one to do so, because it is revealed later that whether a titan is controlled by a conscious human or not and whether that human is male or female, most of the time the shell titan has a male physique with no genitals (known female characters who control male-looking titans include Dina Fritz ("Smiling Titan", unconsiously), Ymir ("Jaw Titan", consciously), Pieck ("Cart Titan", consciously), and Will Tybur's younger sister ("War Hammer Titan", consciously).
  • Made in Abyss has an interesting example in Nanachi, a character who most readers/viewers assumed to be female, until Word of God declared their gender as "unknown." Nanachi has no obvious gendered characteristics, but they do have a unique appearance—they're a Beast Man in a world where every other creature is either human or a horrifying monster. This, along with fluffy animals being vaguely feminine, makes Nanachi "special," and presumed female. However, the French translation makes Nanachi male, so there's some cultural difference of opinion on this.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: The original Japanese version calls witches 魔女 (majo, literally "magical women") and wizards 魔法使い (mahō tsukai, literally "magic user").
  • Tweeny Witches: The original Japanese version calls witches 魔女 (majo, literally "magical women") and warlocks 魔族 (mazoku, literally "magical tribe").

    Comic Books 
  • Transformers:
    • In The Transformers, all the Transformers were considered genderless, but were referred to with masculine pronouns... until one story in which the Autobots created Arcee, who is considered female and is described with feminine pronouns. Arcee was actually created, in story, as female to respond to the sexism that people saw in the perception of the Autobots as male.
    • The same writer (Simon Furman) returned for the IDW-published new continuity, he again set all cybertronians as genderless but using male pronouns. When he introduced Arcee, it was presented as an experiment by Jhiaxus to introduce gender into the formerly genderless species. This ended up having loads of Unfortunate Implications as it both made being female "abnormal" and the fact that Arcee went insane (rather understandably, considering the experiment amounted to a forced sex-change operation) had plenty of potential sexist/transphobic implications. This would end up getting getting fixed (depending on who you ask) in later issues where Cybertronians from Camiens are introduced as naturally occurring female Transformers, and issues set in Cybertron's past show that Female Transformers did exist while Arcee was retconned into being Transgender and having volunteered for Jhiaxus's experiment and her insanity was due to him deciding that it would be fun to torture her afterward.
    • It's worth noting that in both cases, the "Transformers are Genderless" tends to not only ignore their using male words (pronouns, calling themselves brothers for example), but also that the actual character are visually coded male. With male Heroic Builds, and sometimes even male features like beards and mustaches (Alpha Trion, Scourge and Cyclonus being examples) and that out of universe, that design is a deliberate decision so the toys will appeal to a predominantly male audience. Many of the people who have worked on the franchise over the years have gone on record mentioning that Hasbro for the longest time did not like female characters, as they believed these did not sell in a toyline aimed at boys (It is why Arcee, despite being a mainstay of the series in a Merchandise-Driven show, did not get a figure till several decades later). In fact the show runners of the various TV shows have been noted to sometime force female characters into Hasbro's originally all male cast. Recently Hasbro's proven more open to female characters, starting with fan polls leading to the creation fan-created character Windblade, who got her own comic series, and got to be the Deuteragonist of Transformers: Cyberverse.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The reversal of this concept is toyed with during Marston's run. Diana assumes characters are female until their gender identity is revealed, and goes with female pronouns for the gender-ambiguous Hypnota, most characters are female with only two somewhat regularly recurring male characters (Steve Trevor, Phillip Darnell) and there are multiple societies made up entirely of women.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Isaac Asimov's
    • "Feminine Intuition": The robots built by US Robotics have no gender, but when it's suggested that they build a robot with intuition, people immediately jump to the idea of a girl robot. Madarian takes that idea and pushes it as a way to make the JN series special.
      Madarian seized on that. "All right. A girl robot. Our robots are sexless, of course, and so will this one be, but we always act as though they're males. We give them male pet names and call them he and him. Now this one, if we consider the nature of the mathematical structuring of the brain which I have proposed, would fall into the JN-coordinate system. The first robot would be JN-1, and I've assumed that it would be called John-10...I'm afraid that is the level of originality of the average roboticist. But why not call it Jane-1, damn it? If the public has to be let in on what we're doing, we're constructing a feminine robot with intuition."
    • "Green Patches: The alien creature from Saybrook's Planet uses masculine pronouns to refer to himself, although there's really no explanation as to why he might identify with one gender/sex over another.
  • Discworld:
    • In Going Postal, one of the golems gets named Gladys and given a gingham dress so that Miss Maccalariat will approve it cleaning the ladies' privies (prior to which, neither Gladys nor anyone else minded what "she" wore). In Making Money Moist compares Gladys to the generic "male" golems, and then has to remind himself that they aren't male, any more than Gladys is really female.
    • Something similar happens to Rincewind in Interesting Times. After his Luggage (a sentient trunk on legs) starts following a more 'feminine' model (its toes are painted, etc) around, he is first bewildered at the general idea, then realizes that he's never had a proper reason for thinking of his Luggage as male. "True, it had a homicidal nature, but so had a lot of the women Rincewind had met."
    • A similar point can be made with Discworld dwarfs. All dwarfs look like short, male Vikings. Male dwarfs in human society are content to look like short, male Vikings (except Casanunda, but he's a special case), while many female dwarfs are starting to adopt a "feminine" look along the lines of human society. (Dwarfish, like Inuktitut, has no gender-specific pronouns, but their non-specific ones are generally translated as "he", "him", etc.)
    • This is given further development in the later novels when it becomes apparent (in Unseen Academicals) that with the new acceptability of "female" clothing, it's up to the individual dwarfs to choose how they present, so not every dwarf in a skirt is necessarily assigned female at birth.
    • As a twist, the Dwarf femininity issue is presented as cultural rather than sexist. It is simply considered un-Dwarfish and none seem to have a problem interacting with women of other races. A few dwarfs obliquely refer to the fact that dwarvish culture can look odd to humans, and they have no expectation that another culture to follow their rules... unlike humans.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, the convention is for individuals to use their own gender as a generic pronoun, unless there is some indication otherwise. Many characters still, however default to "men".
  • Inverted in Second Stage Lensmen with the "persons" of Lyrane II. They are all biologically female (but do not use the term "female"), and use "it" and "its" instead of "she" and "her". Meanwhile, the males (ratio of 1:100) are not considered persons, are implied to have zero intelligence, and are allowed to exist only for the continuation of the species via procreation. Until Kimball Kinnison shows up, the "persons" routinely kill any male humanoids who find their way to the planet and are not wearing thought shields. They are completely baffled by Illona Potter, because they cannot conceive of a female who is not a "person".
  • Inverted in the Imperial Radch universe: the Radchaai don't have a societal or linguistic concept of gender, so the narration uses "she" and "her" pronouns universally as a Translation Convention. In-universe, Radchaai are known for referring to people as female unless told not to, and Breq struggles with gendered languages because she doesn't really understand how to identify someone as male on sight. Out-of-universe, it did originally default to a gender-neutral "he", but that just meant it read like any other sci-fi, so Ann Leckie changed it.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: The Gethenians are genderless most of the time and assume one gender or the other randomly when they enter a mating cycle, but they're still always referred to as "men."
  • The Player of Games: The Azadians have a third gender called apexes that are neither men nor women, but still get referred to by the male pronoun. This is noted as part of the Translation Convention, though - since the apexes are the dominant gender on their world, they are given the pronoun of the dominant gender on whatever world the story gets translated to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Metamorphosis", Spock modifies their Universal Translator to communicate with an Energy Being that has been maintaining the life and health of a man marooned on its planet. The device gives the Energy Being a female voice, which Kirk and Spock find worthy of note. (Perhaps the translator has a "gender neutral mode", but going by this exchange, it seems more likely that the crew would have considered a male voice "genderless.")
    Kirk: Feminine. No doubt about it, Spock.
    Spock: Yes. The matter of gender could change the entire situation.
    Kirk: I'm way ahead of you.
    Spock: Then it is not a zookeeper.
    Kirk: No. A lover. note 
  • Jerry Seinfeld finds this out the hard way. When he notices that his girlfriend enjoys being naked in his apartment, he tries to be naked too, but the girlfriend finds it disgusting. Later, he and George are told this by Elaine:
    Elaine: Walking around naked? Ahh... that is not a good look for a man.
    George: Why not? It's a good look for a woman.
    Elaine: Well, the female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian. It's for gettin' around-like a jeep.
  • Quite often in late-60s-to-mid-80s Doctor Who, where, due to the sexist blind spots of the time, characters were only women when there was a good reason for them to be, even if this stretched credibility. For just one example, Leela in "The Face of Evil" was conceptualised as coming from a society where sexism wasn't an issue and her status as a brave warrior was not contested, but we have to take her word for it since she's the only woman we meet on her entire planet.
    • One notable aversion of the trope, simply due to her origins, is Bettan from "Genesis of the Daleks". Terry Nation refused the producers' requests to add a female character to the story (since companion Sarah-Jane Smith was the only one in his script), so they simply switched the gender of one of his male characters and changed nothing else, leaving the story with an otherwise-generic Thal soldier that happens to be a woman.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Inversion: Some of The World of Darkness sourcebooks use female pronouns to refer to hypothetical characters of unspecified gender.
  • Inversion: Another example is the third edition of Exalted in which all charm descriptions use female pronouns for the player character.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has done the above too, as well as other methods of avoiding bias like alternating "he" and "she" (in one infamous instance for the same character) or basing it upon the Iconic that best represents the situation.
  • One strategy in various games from the 1990s on was to refer to the Game Master as female and to the players as male in the examples.
  • The Hasbro game "Guess Who?" invoked this trope when a six year old girl asked why the characters were disproportionately male.
  • Magic: The Gathering tends to use gender-neutral terms for occupations, even if a female-specific version could be applied. Benalish Hero depicts a woman, for instance, but isn't called "Benalish Heroine." Also, a creature could be depicted as either male or female in the art as long as it's not a specific storyline character. There are two major exceptions to these rules: enchantresses, which are grandfathered (grandmothered?) in from the early days and angels, which are always female (with one or two very early exceptions). Even the rules text defaulted to "he or she" for a long time, until they decided to let nonbinary people in on the fun and shifted to using the singular "they", much to the annoyance of strange people on the internet.
    • This can lead to translation shenanigans, especially with terms that are genderless in English, but not in another language. For example, in French, the card elvish champion was first translated as championne elfe (a resolutely feminine term) because the illustration featured an elvish woman. When the card reappeared in a later edition, the new illustration was that of a man, but the French translation had to stick with the feminine word. There must be an entire gender study argument to be had on whether this is more inappropriate than having champion elfe be illustrated with a woman.
  • In-universe example in The Dark Eye, male dwarves outnumber females by 4:1,note  as a result, this trope is played straight in their cultures.

    Video Games 
  • Gen IV in Pokémon introduced aesthetic gender differences on members of the same species. In most cases, the "regular" design (i.e., the one that had been used in previous generations) went for males and the females got something different (One notable exception would be Xatu). Although the gender differences are quite realistic and reflect gender differences in animals in real life (for example, female Bug Pokémon tend to have wider thoraxes than the males), some Pokémon have a clearly "human feminine" traits like female Wobbuffet using lipstick.
    • Generally, the official art of every Pokémon with small gender differences only shows the male version. This has some exceptions like the Gible evolution line, Combee or Bibarel. Pokémon with more drastic gender dimorphism (Jellicent, Meowstic or Pyroar) has both versions represented.
    • The Mega Evolutions that appeared in Gen VI only have one model for both genders of each species. If the Pokémon that Mega Evolves has some gender dimorphism, the Mega Evolution will be modeled after the male version. For example, a female Venusaur will lose the small yellow seed in her flower when she Mega Evolves, and a female Garchomp will gain a triangular scar in her dorsal fin, like the one that the male Garchomps have.
    • A very minor one, but in Pokémon Brillant Diamond and Shining Pearl there is a sticker exhibition in the Jubilife TV station, where you can see which stickers are used by the Gym Leaders, Elite Four and Champion you have defeated on their Poké Balls, allowing the player to replicate them. Each list of stickers is accompanied by an image of the trainer with their ace Pokémon, which apparently, due of an oversight, always display the male (default) model, even if the trainer's actual Pokémon is female and have sexual dimorphism. Most of these gender differences are barely noticeable unless you look specifically for them, so it usually goes unnoticed... until you see Bertha's Hippowdon, whose gender dimorphism completely changes the Pokémon's color palette.
    • Pokémon GO originally had no genders except for the Nidoran family, just like Gen I... but it used the modern 3D models, which have gender differences. They were not used consistently, and sometimes the gender of a model would change for no apparent reason; for a while, you could evolve a Pikachu and it would apparently transform from male to female. When genders were (officially) added, the trope was played straight—all previously-captured mons with gender differences became male, and only new spawns of those species could be female.
    • In Pokémon Unite all playable Pokémon whose species have visible gender differences are male.
  • Pac-Man is an example of this trope. The original male Pac-Man character is a plain circle who doesn't even have eyes, while Ms. Pac-Man has a bow, a mole, lipstick, and eyelashes.
  • At some point during its unending development, Ancient Domains of Mystery added female versions of various humanoid monsters. So now you have "goblins" and "female goblins" — male goblins are still just "goblins". In a temporary example, when the version with actual graphics came out, the creatures were first given only male graphics, and separate graphics for the female versions came later. Some heavily covered, armoured or mutated humanoids didn't get separate female graphics, which is actually an aversion of the trope, because it means you are not to assume every basically genderless humanoid model is male.
  • The Legend of Spyro: There are only male characters except for Cynder, who first appears as a villainess in The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning. You don't get to see any other female dragons (or female characters in general) besides her, as if she is the only female in the world. You do get to see a little of Sparx's mother, but since she appears too little in the first game, she doesn't count. There are no female cheetahs in Hunter's village or female moles in Warfang in Dawn of the Dragon, making this trope even more true.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, warriors who fight Grimm are called Huntsmen if male, and Huntresses if female. "Huntsmen" is also the gender-neutral term.

  • Shortpacked!
    • Everyone refers to Ultra-Car, a talking car, as "he". It's not until U.C. gets a human body that we learn she identifies as female, and when people are surprised she points out that cars don't have sexes.
    • One standalone strip had two screenwriters working on an ensemble movie, and when one of them suggested that maybe they could make a character female, the other insisted you couldn't have a female character just for the sake of having a female character.
  • Some of the Image Macro "Advice Animals" characters have been given Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, for memes dealing with female-specific issues. (For example, a Socially-Awkward penguin about period mishaps.) Others (such as Foul Bachelor Frog and Scumbag Steve) have an actual Distaff Counterpart.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons angels have No Biological Sex and are theoretically beyond mortal concepts such as gender, but in practice a lot of them call each other "brother" and present much closer to male, while White Chain becoming "a little feminine" is treated as human contamination and results in banishment.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), April discovers she has a rare gift when she is able to "communicate" with a psychic mutant monkey. This gift intrigues Splinter and he offers to train her as a Kunoichi, who were traditionally trained with different skillsets than male ninja.
  • The Transformers: In "The Search for Alpha Trion", Elita-1's Amazon Brigade is just called the "Female Autobots" because it's noted how rare female Transformers are. Optimus Prime's all-male forces, on the other hand, are never called the "Male Autobots" in the episode, because Transformers are considered male by defaultnote .
  • This is played with Young Justice. There's a perfectly good strategic reason for Nightwing to send an all-female squad for the day's mission (they are dealing with Queen Bee whose powers bend mennote  to her will), but he still presents it as though an all-female squad is a deviation. Batgirl calls him on it, on the basis that while Nightwing wasn't wrong to send an all-female squad, he was wrong to assume that the all-female squad would find the fact that they were an all-female squad strange and in need of explanation.
    Batgirl: Oh, really? And would you have felt the need to justify an all-male squad for a given mission?
    Wonder Girl, Bumblebee, and Miss Martian all glare at him.
    Nightwing: Th-there's no... right answer for that, is there? So... Nightwing out.
  • Inverted in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Brotherhooves Social where Rainbow Dash declares "Don't think me and Scootaloo are gonna take it easy on you just 'cause you're a stallion!" to Big Macintosh, more or less confirming gender stereotypes are flipped in Equestria.

    Real Life 
  • Gender-based languages:
    • In most gender-based languages of European origin, words for people are generally masculine by default. Feminine words are modeled on the masculine ones, by adding or replacing suffixes. For example: German der Kanzler "the (male) Chancellor" > die Kanzlerin "the female Chancellor"; English fox > vixen ; Old Norse ǫ́ss/æsir "male god(s)" > ásynja/ásynjur "goddess(es)"; French le chasseur "the (male) hunter" > la chasseuse "the huntress"; Spanish el gato "the (he-)cat" > la gata "the she-cat". Examples for the contrary are rare, usually occur when the words are mostly associated with women: German Hexe "witch" > Hexer "warlock"; English widow > widower. Even for words that are both masculine and feminine, the use of gender depends on whether the referrent is female or not, and if not, the masculine gender is used: Italian un bravo barista "a good (male) barista" > una brava barista "a good female barista"; bravi baristi "good (male) baristas" > brave bariste "good female baristas".
    • Even for feminine words that look like they could be original, it turned out that they actually derived from masculine words. This is the story behind words such as German Frau "woman" or Dutch vrouw "woman" which are etymologically identical to the name of the Norse goddess Freyja "Lady", but ultimately still derivative of the name of the god Freyr "Lord". English is lucky to have actual, commonly used original feminine words, such as queen (compare German König "king" > Königin "female king > queen" or Latin rex "king" > regina "female king > queen").
    • Even though English has "queen", the word still suffers genericity, but in this case, for women, just like in other European languages. A "queen" can be either a female ruler (a "queen regnant") or a king's wife (a "queen consort"). On the other hand, a king is, without a doubt, a male ruler. A queen's husband would be called a "prince consort", such as Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband.
    • The masculine-by-default principle also extends to the use of feminine pronouns. In various Romance languages, the use of the third-person feminine plural pronouns, such French elles "they, those women", are only allowed when talking about an all-female group of individuals. If the sex of the group is unknown, or there is at least one male member, then the masculine pronouns are used instead.
    • Strangely enough, whether it's Germanic, Romance, Latin or Greek, a common phenomenon occurred: at some point in history, these languages just threw away the specific words for "human male", and opted for the generic word for "human", which of course, are grammatically masculine. This happened with English man "human" and were "human male", Latin homo and vir (which resulted in French homme, Spanish hombre, etc.), among others. In French, the Latin word homo even turned into the generic pronoun on "one; generic you". In English, this phenomenon resulted in woman (a compound of wife and man that translates to "female human") being grammatically masculine for seemingly no good reason.
    • Even though English has long lost grammatical gender, generic pronouns such as you guys, generic words and suffixes like every man or Man(kind), or the inclination to immediately and unconsciously assume the masculine gender for people and animals alike still persist.
    • A huge consequence of ambiguous grammatical gender is that people have to go to ridiculous length to stay PC and resort to using extensive Gender-Inclusive Writing if they wish any hope to attract female professionals. German job ads make use of the shorthand (m/f) (m for Mann "man" and f for Frau "woman") or (m/w) (m for männlich "manly, male" and w for weiblich "wifely, womanly, female") an awful lot, as a desperate attempt to say, "Hey, we hire women, too!"
    • Esperanto, the Universal Language: Esperanto builds vocabulary by attaching affixes to root words. There is a feminine ending (-in-), but not a male ending, so all gendered nouns are masculine by default. For example, the words for woman, mother, and girl (virino, patrino, knabino) literally mean maness, fatheress and boyess.
  • East Asian languages aren't gender-based, but are still guilty of using words for males for humans in general, or female-specific words.
    • 他 was originally a gender-neutral pronoun. The female-specific 她 was introduced in the 20th century due to the influence of the English language, but no male-specific pronoun was introduced, which led to 他 becoming male (but it is still used in the gender-neutral sense as well).
    • 英雄, literally "valiant male", is equivalent to the English word "hero". It is used to refer to male and female heroic people alike.
    • 王子 and 皇子 respectively literally mean "king's child" and "emperor's child", but refer only to princes. Princesses are referred specifically to as 王女 ("king's girl") or 皇女 ("emperor's girl"). However, Chinese has some semantically vaguer words for "princess" that aren't composed of 女 ("girl") but gender-neutral elements, for example 公主 ("public/duchess mistress", from 公 "public/duke" + 主 "master") or 郡主. These words were especially extensively used under the Qing dynasty by Manchurian imperial families.
    • In Japanese, 親王 means "prince" (the Emperor's son). 内親王 means "princess" (the Emperor's daughter), with 内 ("inside") having the long forgotten connotation of "a proper lady has to stay inside her room all the time". A 親王's son is also a 親王, but his daughter is specifically a 女王 (which is commonly translated by dictionaries as "queen", but in the context of the Japanese imperial family, it means "princess").
    • The Chinese word 兄弟, composed of 兄 ("older brother") and 弟 ("younger brother"), can simply mean "siblings", "brothers and sisters", "brethren" or "a brotherhood" in general. The group of rebels in the novel Water Margin referred to themselves as "brothers", even though there were a few female members among them.
    • The Japanese language takes it to further length, applying the pronunciation of this word (kyōdai) to all other words for "siblings". That is to say, words like 兄妹 (keimai, "older brother and younger sister"), 姉弟 (shitei, "older sister and younger brother") and 姉妹 (shimai, "older sister and younger sister"), apart from their respective pronunciations, also use the pronunciation kyōdai.
    • Because of the influence of Western words such as English goddess, queen, empress, French déesse, reine, impératrice, etc., East Asian languages have increasingly used female-specific elements to translate them, namely 女神, 女王, 女帝, etc.
  • Religiously speaking, God and angels are usually depicted as men (thus their names, Michael, Gabriel, etc. have always been male names), despite claims that they're genderless or otherwise. This, however, has been subverted by the depiction of female fantasy angels.
  • Men's fashion is not nearly as varied as women's. Take a look at any formal event where the ladies are all wearing unique dresses and gowns, while the men are in nearly identical suits and tuxedos. (See Menswear Ghetto for this trope in action for video games.)
  • A female, African-American writer once said at a black women's writer's conference: "If this was a conference for white women writers, it would be called a women's writer's conference. And if this was a conference for white male writers, it would just be called a writer's conference."


Video Example(s):


The gender of a robot.

Despite lacking gender, despite being little more than a blocky robot. People generally assume Bastion to be male even though it has no gender, exactly because it's the 'default'.

How well does it match the trope?

3.81 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / MenAreGenericWomenAreSpecial

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