Sorry to bang on about sexual politics, but here’s something that really annoys me: form filling. Filling in another of the buggers the other day (phone company) and they asked my sex (which isn’t relevant in any case, I was buying phone credit not a dildo) and then presented the options in the usual order – male or female.
Of course by now, I have filled in millions of forms and it’s not unusual for these options to be presented in this order, indeed I think that it’s pretty standard. It’s not alphabetical, it’s set out in the web masters idea of priority: men first, women second.
If you’re a certain type of troll you’ll be reading that and preparing some scathing comment that suggests that with the world going to hell in a hand cart there are more things to worry about other than feminist power struggles and much more significant issues than option order on an internet form, but it is important because if you are a woman it’s often the small drip drip of prejudice that eventually drives you mad rather than the big issues. The abiding message that you are second to men is so all pervasive that you almost don’t notice it, until you do. Think about 5 Live sport radio coverage: it’s almost entirely by men about men with an occasional woman allowed in to talk about …well, men.
Politics, business and media is so dominated by men that if you were an alien you’d imagine that these areas of life are barred to women by law, perhaps with an occasional exemption made on appeal. If women are allowed near the media they need to have the looks of a model and the body of a young girl. If they do well they need to expect shocked expressions of delight or consternation that a man wouldn’t tolerate. Why should the shape of your genitalia effect your ability to read the news, run a company or shout the odds across the floor of the House of Commons. Science seems to indicate that the differences between male and female brains are tiny, and may well be a consequence of the the ongoing re-wiring caused by differing experiences in life. And yet women and men are invariable treated as if they are radically different – and different in status too.
And that is why it is normal and not remotely noteworthy if on internet forms a man’s identity is more important than the woman’s. But it’s still wrong.