Skip to comments.Benevolent Sexism
Posted on 12/12/2012 5:58:42 AM PST by Servant of the Cross
Katy Perry recently joined Taylor Swift, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and French former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in the ranks of prominent women who declined to identify themselves as feminists when prompted by reporters. Internet responses to this trend ranged from outrage over their false consciousness to snarky derision of their stupidity to concerned introspection about the failures of feminist branding.
Another possibility that should be considered is that feminism seems largely irrelevant to an increasing number of Western women because it often appears to be at odds with their experience of reality and their desires. Bruni-Sarkozy explained, Im not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, Im a bourgeoise. I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day. Her remark is an indication of the gap that often exists between the concerns of feminism and the concerns of women, as was Mayers insistence in an interview that she remained unaware throughout high school that girls were supposed to be bad at math and science.
This gap shouldnt be that surprising, since feminists arent particularly interested in empiricism. This is revealed every time the media write up academic research with findings that feminists deem objectionable. CNN a couple of months ago reported on a study in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science about the effects of ovulation on womens voting preferences. This study was denounced as patently offensive more offensive than, say, the Obama campaigns telling women they should vote like your lady parts depend on it. In response to the backlash, CNN yanked the piece from its website, explaining that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.
Meanwhile, last week on Slate, Amanda Marcotte began a piece decrying a study whose results she didnt like by noting that at least it was unlike other studies whose results she didnt like in that it avoided theorizing that women are hard-wired to like shiny things in velvet boxes because something something caveman days. In the study, researchers surveyed 277 students at UC Santa Cruz and found that two-thirds of them definitely thought that men should propose marriage to women. Only 2.8 percent of the women felt that they would kind of want to propose to their boyfriends, and zero men felt that they would like to receive such a proposal. Marcotte worried that this benevolent sexism . . . leeches women of much of their autonomy and predicted that this pernicious state of affairs will persist until we dramatically restructure our cultural understanding of gender and romance.
If youre wondering what benevolent sexism is and why its a problem, dont worry there are reams of social-science literature dedicated to addressing those questions. Heres a definition from an article by Juliet Wakefield et al. in the November issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly entitled, Thanks, but No Thanks: Womens Avoidance of Help-Seeking in the Context of a Dependency-Related Stereotype: Whereas some forms of sexism are explicitly misogynistic, others are less so, and it is common to distinguish between hostile (old-fashioned) sexism and benevolent (modern) sexism.
Rachael Robnett, the graduate student who surveyed the students at UC Santa Cruz, is also on the case. She explained to Live Science that people who hold traditional notions about romance and marriage tend also to believe that women should be cherished and protected, which sounds nice but actually is not: Its benevolent sexism. The flip side, which is more insidious, is that it is robbing women of some agency, she said.
Charles Murray recently highlighted another Psychology of Women Quarterly study on benevolent sexism in a blog post he titled, The Bad News Is That Gentlemanly Behavior Makes People Happy. Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker found that the phenomenon was associated with life satisfaction for both women and men and concluded: The results imply that although benevolent sexism perpetuates inequality at the structural level, it might offer some benefits at the personal level. Thus, our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence. Murray wondered, When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldnt they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens? That, however, would require them to accept the idea that there is such a thing as human nature, and that it is fixed.
Because benevolent sexism is so much more insidious than old-fashioned hostile sexism, social scientists are forced to be creative in their attempts to measure it and analyze the negative effects they know it has on women. Consider the scenario constructed by Juliet Wakefield and her colleagues in their study of how women avoid seeking help in the context of a dependency-related stereotype. The university women selected for the experiment are individually allowed to overhear a fake phone call the female researcher supposedly receives from Joe the plumber, who is working in her apartment and has moved some of her furniture around without asking. After she hangs up, she says to some of the participants in the study, Sorry about that my plumber is such a typical man he thinks that women are incapable of doing anything on their own! To the others she says, Sorry about that, my plumber is the most impatient person in the world. It turns out that the young women exposed to the former statement which sounds as if it is describing something a bit more hostile than benevolent were subsequently less likely to ask for help with solving some anagrams, and they felt bad about themselves when they did ask for help. Conclusion: All in all, our findings underline the point that the benevolent sexism in everyday banal interactions can be consequential for womens emotions and behavior, and is, therefore, anything but banal.
I tried to reflect a little on whether my banal interactions with benevolently sexist men have been undermining my emotional health and affecting my behavior without my realizing it. The other day, I asked a male co-worker for assistance with a technical issue. Its hard to know if he was subtly robbing me of my agency, because he didnt reply, Oh, the network server, thats so difficult and frustrating for a woman to grapple with. Let me do it for you, as did the man in a script presented to students in the 2011 study Damned if She Does, Damned if She Doesnt: Consequences of Accepting versus Confronting Patronizing Help for the Female Target and Male Actor. Instead, he just sent me the relevant link and went back to work.
I dont think most women actually want to live in a world where men dont offer to help them lug heavy suitcases up staircases or hold doors for them or propose marriage never mind going down with the Titanic. If feminists find these things deplorable and in need of eradication, they can hardly be surprised when women fail to identify with their cause.
BUT, they fail to see true examples of this insidious and deplorable sexism, robbing them of total 'agency', in the lives of the lame, pathetic, government-dependency-related stereotypes of Julia, Sandra Fluke and Lena Dunham?!
Today's feminism has robbed women of their intellect!
“robs women of their autonomy”
Women weren’t created, aren’t “wired”, to be “autonomous”.
This is why, when forced by current social norms to be “independent from man”, they always vote for the provision and protection of a socialist nanny state.
At the heart of ever feminist is one that did not receive the love from their father that they so craved. Like a scorned woman they exact their revenge upon men for a lifetime because of it
At the heart of every feminist is one that did not receive the love from their father that they so craved. Like a scorned woman they exact their revenge upon men for a lifetime because of it
People - men and women - rob themselves of agency every time they say "I can't," or "I don't have a choice," and every time they blame someone else for the choices they make or the outcome of their choices.
I tell my kids, "Practice starting your sentences with, "I decided to ..." or "I chose to ...'. Say, 'The problem is that I did (this) or I did not do (that).' " This is what "agency" looks like. Do this, and you will be a worthwhile person.
Feminists are Democrat and ugly battle axes.
I won't let my wife move furniture, climb on the roof, crawl under the house, or do any one of the dozen or two (dirty, smelly, lousy) things that you need to take care of as a homeowner.
Could she take care of most of them? Sure. Would she, if I weren't around? Probably. But so long as I'm able, she doesn't need to and that keeps everyone happy.
True dat. Human nature is only fixed if it says you're gay. Even if it says your male, that can be changed. But if it says you're gay, you're stuck with it.
Men are often difficult to get along with. In ancient times, women who could "do without men" proceeded to do so, and tended not to reproduce.
People weren't created, aren't wired to be autonomous. We are social beings. We are created to work best in society. (Note: That's not the same as under a government.) "No man is an island alone unto himself."
For those of you who read Him, Jesus talked about cutting off your hand if it offended you or plucking out your eye, but He never talked about moving away from your neighbor if he offends you. We are meant to live with people, to help them, and to accept help from them.
The Feminist “Brand” will remain irrelevant as long as they continue to ignore the horrors of being female in Islam, especially while they bemoan being female in the US. They may as well cry about being poor to the wait staff while laying on a beach in Honduras at an exclusive resort.
No one willingly gives up power.
Feminism was designed to give ugly women power, feminists hate attractive women.
This simply exposes the "feminist" agenda as anti-Western and anti-Christian.
Probably true. And they either consciously or subconciously rage against their Heavenly Father whom they blame not only for their earthly father's shortcomings, but also for creating us male and female, wiring each sex VERY differently, and ordering a God-fearing and obedient family's structure in the 'traditional' patriarchal sense. Just because earthly men failed in their responsibilities, doesn't mean God's design is not good.
Anyone (feminists or homosexuals) raging against this foundation for our world, has their true conflict with God the Creator (whether they admit it or not).
If that is the case then ALL "support" to divorced women should be halted at once. Courts should give men their children, therefore, the ex-wife would have to pay child support.
Not all cases are in a one size fits all, but divorce courts are quite biased against men.
Why aren't these idiots screaming for NO MORE ALIMONY?
SO true! 'Joys' of Muslim Women ...
The truth of being female in Islam makes the contrived complaints of feminists in America laughably ignorant.
Very good expansion of what i said and analysis of the feminist movement.
Pretty young women are magical creatures.