Consider the implications of usages such as the following:
- “Man is a mammal and suckles his young”Â – the human race is male by default; “Womankind” is a subset of “Mankind”.
- “The reader is entitled to his opinion”Â – if you’re female, you have to pretend otherwise to read legal documents.
- “Wizard” is praise; “witch” is an insult (abuse is the only field in which there are more words to describe women).
- “The UK’s greatest living author” is ambiguous; does it rule out the possibility of authoresses who are greater?
This doctrine of Male-As-Default treats women as a negligible subgroup, and femaleness as abnormal but always noteworthy.
Sexism is (in principle) avoidable in English, via words like “human, people, he/she, they”, and sex-neutral jobtitles where sex is irrelevant.Â Things are different in languages with grammatical gender: eg in French, masculine plural is “ils”, feminine plural is “elles”, but mixed groups (even of 99 women and one grammatically-masculine hornet) are “ils”. ..
Makes you think, doesnt it?