Women: The “Other” Gender

I have a theory: Women see themselves as “the other” gender, not the “default” one. Let me explain.

People who belong to a norm tend not to have a term to identify themselves. It would be unnecessary, because its already understood and recognized. In large groups where everyone shares a common identity, that quality or trait becomes a “background identity” (like background-noise.)

I’ve never referred to myself as a ‘human’ in a conversation, because everyone is a human. Likewise, in a gathering of all Asians, no one refers to the other as Asians. But, when an outsider is introduced into the group, that person is often identified by what makes him distinct from the group. For example, if an African joined the gathering, he would be identified as such.

Being roughly 50% of the world’s population, you would think the identity of being a woman would become a background-identity. But outwardly, it appears that their gender is a major part of their identity, more than being male is for men.¬†Consider the following examples to illustrate the point:

  • The NBA vs The WNBA
  • A strong, confident person vs A strong, confident woman
  • Perspectives vs A Woman’s Perspective
  • Work vs Womens’ Work
  • Health issues vs Womens’ Health issues
  • Power vs Girl-power
  • Support Groups vs Womens-Support Groups
  • Out with your friends vs Girls’ Night Out

Do you see a pattern? Men do not feel the need to add any type of male-identifier, whereas women are more likely to specify their gender. For example, confidence is gender-neutral. But, women are more likely to add the ‘woman’ identity. Both genders are able to attain power, but young girls are more likely to use the prefix “Girl-“.

Since women are roughly 50% of the world’s population, one would expect the female-identity to become a “background-identity”, just as it has for males. But, the presence of female-specific qualifiers and organizations suggests that women are acutely¬†aware of that part of their identity. This suggests that they see their femininity as different than the accepted norm.

Your thoughts?