The fickle face of feminism: Women are fine with sexism… as long as it benefits them, says new study
While wolf whistling and pay inequality might rankle, it seems that not all sexist behaviour is seen as a bad thing, according to a new study.
‘Benevolent sexism’, where women are treated as helpless entities in need of protection, is seen in a positive light by many – particularly those women with a strong sense of entitlement.
The results appeared in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland and titled The Allure of Sexism: Psychological Entitlement Fosters Women’s Endorsement of Benevolent Sexism Over Time.
The study was set up to test part of the Ambivalent Sexism Theory, which splits discrimination against women into two varieties – hostile and benevolent.
Hostile, also known as misogyny, encompasses those who see women as second class and those who think women are intellectually inferior to men as well as other obviously sexist standpoints.
Benevolent sexism, meanwhile, is the term used to describe the actions of those men and women who believe females depend on their male partners for everything from money to guidance and find it difficult to exist independently.
‘This research was designed to test a central part of Ambivalent Sexism Theory that has not been previously examined,’ lead researcher Matthew Hammond told online magazine, PsyPost.org.
‘[We wanted to see] whether or not benevolent sexism is attractive to women because of its promises of benefits to individual women under the conditions of being cared for and provided for by a man within an intimate relationship.’
The study, which spoke to 2,700 women and 1,600 New Zealand men, found that women with a greater sense of entitlement – in other words, those that feel they have a ‘right’ to the best things in life – were more likely to agree with statements such as ‘Women should be cherished and protected by men.’
‘Even though both men and women have these kind of “entitled” tendencies to be reward-oriented and status-focused — the “cherish and protect” attitudes of benevolent sexism seem to take advantage of these qualities in women only,’ added Hammond.
‘This is an example of how benevolent sexism is an insidious set of ideas which appear to exploit “niceness” to encourage women to hold more sexist beliefs.’