I'm sure many have raged against this very patriarchal piece of grammar - including my daughter. However, today, my Japanese teacher told me that when she was learning French, her teacher (a man) had a different explanation: "If you have a glass of water and someone pees in it, it doesn't matter whether how much. Even if it's just a drop - you're still not going to drink from that glass."
Yes, I know it's problematic in its own right, but what a useful corrective to an age-old unfairness! (When I told my daughter this, she laughed like a drain.)