On Mary K.’s birthday she received the following birthday-related promotion from Best Buy.  Notice that the promotion is personalized: it says “Happy Birthday, Mary” in the upper right corner.  Nonetheless, the promotion features a tie as an example of a bad gift and a camera as an example of something that Mary might really want.


Given how carefully ads are now targeted to internet users (based both on the demographics it can gather about you [e.g., when you’re on Facebook] and the content of the text you’re reading [e.g., alongside email exchanges]), it’s kind of fascinating that Best Buy is apparently NOT paying attention to Mary’s sex.  This, of course, might be heartily welcomed by many of you.

But, if Best Buy is going to put together a non-sex-specific promotion, it sure seems like it would be a good idea to make it non-sex-specific (featuring, as a bad gift, something non-gendered like an electric toothbrush or something).  For whatever reason, Best Buy went with “we’re going to assume that all our customers are dudes.”

For more instances of male as the default human, see these posts: one, two, three, and four.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.