Oil painting of kids moving a couch by avril E jean

Everyday things that are defaulted to men that we think are normal until you point them out

I asked my Facebook friends to come up with suggestions of everyday ‘stuff that defaults to men’. The suggestions came, and then just kept on coming.
Here is my list. It’s long. And a bit horrifying.

I’ve tried to sort things into to general sections.  Things like size and strength would also apply to smaller man as well as the bulk of women – and a lot of them would be applicable for disabled people. I also make note that being a tall woman with a fair bit of gym-induced muscle, I actually had no idea about some of this stuff.

I have some explanations, some quotes, and some links.

Note: Women have anything between half and a third of the base muscle mass of a male.  Even a woman who has high muscle mass is weaker to an equivalent male. Women are on average 5 inches shorter than men. A lot of these are about size/height/strength.

Hand straps/bars on trains – can’t reach them.

“Toilet flush buttons at our work. It took about 3 of us able bodied women to attest that we found it very difficult to push the button, so anyone with any kind of finger strength disability (eg mild arthritis) would find it impossible. Hadn’t occurred to the men who had by default strong fingers. (it was a very daft design where you had to push a single finger into the wall). At least they did listen after it was more than one of us saying that and changed it.”

“Benches you stand at (kitchens, workbenches)- generally designed for an average male height, not ergonomic for a shorter person (or yes, a very tall one), they end up on sub optimal angles of arms and back, increasing energy expended or risk of long term injury. Yes you have to design for something, but if you were designing for the 95% of people instead of just men, you might acknowledge there is such variability that height adjust-ability might be required.”

Car tailgate releases – requires brute strength

tools/powertools – hand size, heavy, hard to change batteries designed for single hand change, spacings in hand grips for big hands, power needed to use big tools.

“Also other hand tools – tinsnips in my high school metalwork in year 8, the adult male sized snips were night impossible to use, I could barely get my hands around them and could only exert enough force to dent not cut the metal. I really felt the contrast at he time because I was using my mums secateurs (gardening is an approved women’s activity apparently so hand strength tools come in smaller, lighter and easier to spring) fine by that time and I didn’t think the thin metal actually was much harder than a tough wooden branch.”

Seats that are not height adjustable and may be too long in the thigh. Seat backs that don’t provide lumber support because a woman’s butt gets in the way.

“A lot of safety equipment is as well. I used to work at an automotive engineering company and things like hi-vis clothing, bump caps, safety glasses, etc that we had to wear in some areas never ever fit me and was constantly falling off.”

Power steering in cars is the one thing that we came up with that was directly beneficial to women in cars

Pedestrian crossing annunciators – the little dudes on the walk/no walk sign are very masculine

stairs vs slopes – I learned in first year biology that the way hips are hinged on men/women mean that it’s more effort for women to walk up stairs, and they are better off on slopes. This needs verification. But there are stairs everywhere.

Leadership skills and assertiveness. This is ‘the patriarchy’ at it’s best and a cultural thing. I’ll discuss this more another time.

Seatbelts – they squash boobs and have to be adjusted to fit so they don’t go straight across the body. they also have to be adjusted to go around hips, not directly across the body.

Crash test dummies. – tested on men but the results apply to everyone. Sorry if you’re a woman in a car. Not designed to protect you.

Bike seats – Bikes come with a default seat. the default seat is always male, you are not offered a choice on buying a bike.

Overalls. How do you go to the toilet in overalls if you can’t use the flap?

Office air conditioning, set to men’s temperature, too cool for women. Though menopause makes up for this, right????!

Scuba diving BCDs, and wetsuits – designed for men

“In fact most outdoor sports equipment and wear (men’s jackets go up to 4xl but women’s often stop at size “16.)

“T-shirts, especially from on demand print places, where a women’s xl = men’s medium and then there are no more women’s sizes.”

Virtual reality equipment – women get sick using it.

“When I first did work experience in a factory setting, the only female toilets were in the admin building. When I did some work in an old Telstra exchange building, the floors only had one set of toilets each. Two floors (out of 16) had been designated as women’s toilets, and had to be locked, and the women issued with keys, to prevent vandalism. In both cases I had blokes stand guard outside a toilet block while I used them, as the distance to the loo from where I was working was a problem.

“unisex toilets – women have to sit down in puddles of pee”

“Counters at places like banks (more obvious in older banks) and correspondingly many places you buy tickets from”

Guitars (and other large instruments) – boob squashed by the shapes, too large, too heavy. (I personally am tall but i still have small-ish fingers and boobs, reading this article made me realise why playing guitar sucked)

“Name tags. The pin on ones assume you have a sturdy fabric jacket or shirt on (not a thinner or softer fabric that might get holes or might be too light to support a tag), the stick on ones assume you don’t have a nice fabric that might not appreciate sticky stuff. But the bigger thing is that they assume that a tag on the chest is a good place. My chest curves, and is lower than the average chest, making people squint down trying to read the label which may squew off to the side, or sit awkwardly on an upwards facing angle, or a sticky label may curve across the breast making it hard to read both beginning and end of the label. This is further compounded because the nametag is asking people to look at the region of your breasts, which makes it awkward and sometimes very uncomfortable for everyone concerned. I don’t think such an awkward standard would have been adopted if it wasn’t started by largely men wearing suits with nice flat chest pockets a nametag could be clipped on to.”

Baseball caps for adults “I have to wear kids ones”

Coming of age stories – all about men. To be honest, this is why I hated every CGI movie for years. They were all the ‘Boy Quest’

Technology – great article

Research bias, eg Flight or Fight – this is a male thing not a female thing, did you know that?  Up until recently many research was done only on male lab mice/rats. Redoing physiological and psychological studies on female animals often gives totally different results.

emergency room wait times – because women’s pain is undervalued and underrated

Pain medication and women. Can I just say on this one, when you’re in testing, about 95% of the work will be dealing with exceptions to the ‘norm’. Women’s hormone fluctuations in pain testing causes exceptions. It’s easier to not test on women, for many things, but women get the same treatment that worked on men.

Artificial Hearts that don’t fit women. And won’t any time soon.

Heart attack symptoms are different in women but not as well circulated as men’s symptoms

Combat gear made for men, women have to just fit into it

This reminded me too – lab coats, not designed for boobs.

Rockclimbing harnesses, car racing harnesses = sore squished boobies.

Roller coaster harnesses

Pink options for women’s goods: “I just hate that when the default option for something is “male” they make a “female” one that is pink or floral or dainty. Like you can’t be female and want the same thing that is just more appropriate for your size/anatomy/strength/ergonomics/etc, no, you must want it to be “girly” as well. I’m a cyclist, which is very male-dominated, and a lot of the women’s specific stuff (clothing especially!!) is “girly” or at least has pink accents and so forth. I wanted new black leggings for running from kmart the other day and they have a friggin pink waistband. More often than not, for a women’s specific thing, you will have a “girly” option, but you won’t have a plain option.”

Hiking backpacks – large and broad

Cross country skiing clothes

“Pockets, including pockets in gym clothes, or should i say, the LACK of pockets. Who carries a handbag at the gym?”