The male perspective has come to be seen as universal
The result of this deeply male-dominated culture is that the male the male perspective, has come to be seen as universal, while experience - that of half the global population, after all - is seen as, well, niche. It is because what is male is universal that when a professor at Georgetown University named her literature course 'White Male Writers', she hit the headlines, while the numerous courses on 'female writers' pass unremarked.
It is because what is male is universal (and what is female is niche) that a film about the fight of British women for their right to vote is slammed (in the Guardian, no less) as 'peculiarly hermetic' for not covering the First World War -sadly proving that Virginia Woolfs 1929 observation ('This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room') is still relevant today.59 It is why V. S. Naipaul criticizes Jane Austen's writing as 'narrow', while at the same time no one is expecting The Wolf of Wall Street to address the Gulf War, or Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard to write about anyone but himself (or quote more than a single female writer) to receive praise from the New Yorker for voicing 'universal anxieties' in his six-volume autobiography.
It is why the England national football team page on Wikipedia is about the men's national football team, while the women's page is called the England women's national football team, and why in 2013 Wikipedia divided writers into 'American Novelists' and 'American Women Novelists'. It is why a 2015 study of multiple language Wikipedias found that articles about women include words like 'woman', 'female' or 'lady', but articles about men don't contain words like 'man', 'masculine' or 'gentleman' (because the male sex goes without saying)."
We class the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries as 'the Renaissance' even though, as social psychologist Carol Tavris points out in her 1991 book The Mismeasure of woman, it wasn't a renaissance for women, who were still largely excluded from intellectual and artistic life. We call the eighteenth century 'the Enlightenment', even though, while it may have expanded 'the rights of man', it 'narrowed the rights of women, who were denied control of their property and earnings and barred from higher education and professional training'. We think of ancient Greece as the cradle of democracy although the female half of the population were explicitly excluded from voting.
In 2013, British tennis player Andy Murray was lauded across the media for ending Britain's '77-year wait' to win Wimbledon, when in fact Virginia Wade had won it in 1977. Three years later, Murray was informed by a sports reporter that he was 'the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals' (Murray correctly replied that 'Venus and Serena have won about four each') In the US it is a truth universally acknowledged that its soccer team has never won the World Cup or even reached the final - except it has. Its women's team has won three times.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
This cult of "intelligence" centers on the idea that human cleverness is the supreme value . . . [but] all around us, we can see people trying to solve by logical argument or by the acquiring of information, problems that can only be dealt with by a change of heart—a change of attitude and new policy and direction. But this is the last thing we try . . . in contemporary culture, the passionate, quasi-religious exaltation of our pure cognitive faculties is surely a defense mechanism against this awkward fact.
Some new products and ideas slip into the well-worn grooves of people's expectations. In fifteen out of the last sixteen ...