Article on benevolent sexism

2 years, 3 months ago

“Here’s the abstract of a study that conservatives such as Charles Murray and magazines such as The Atlantic are having fun with:

Previous research suggests that benevolent sexism is an ideology that perpetuates gender inequality. But despite its negative consequences, benevolent sexism is a prevalent ideology that some even find attractive. To better understand why women and men alike might be motivated to adopt benevolent sexism, the current study tested system justification theory’s prediction that benevolent sexism might have a positive linkage to life satisfaction through increased diffuse system justification, or the sense that the status quo is fair. A structural equation model revealed that benevolent sexism was positively associated with diffuse system justification within a sample of 274 college women and 111 college men. Additionally,benevolent sexism was indirectly associated with life satisfaction for both women and men through diffuse system justification. In contrast, hostile sexism was not related to diffuse system justification or life satisfaction. 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.

Everything in bold was highlighted by Murray.

The feminist, social scientific article distinguishes between benevolent sexism and hostile sexism, but seemingly not fundamentally. They’re both part of the ideology of sexism, which perpetuates gender inequality. So even benevolent sexism is “dangerous” and must be rooted out through “interventions.”

The old-fashioned ways of describing benevolent sexism are, of course, being a gentleman or practicing chivalry. Hostile sexism used to be called mistreating women or treating women as objects to be exploited. Hostile sexism is not what the gentleman thinks or feels or does, because he knows how to treat a lady.

The social scientific authors admit that benevolent sexism, unlike hostile sexism, has “personal benefits” or is association with “life satisfaction” for both men and women. But that personal good must give way to the eradication of systemic evil. Benevolent sexism puts women down by suggesting that they need special treatment. Now someone might respond that thinking that someone deserves special treatment suggests that someone is special–a lady. But it also suggests, the egalitarian response is, that they’re especially weak.

All in all: The study shows that the bad news is that men and women are happy thinking of themselves as ladies and genltemen. Let the interventions begin!

Now the authors’ view is that the personal satisfaction comes form being seduced by the illusion that the present sexist system is fair. If men think they know that to treat ladies as ladies is fair, then they have the satisfaction of knowing who they are as gentlemen and what they’re supposed to do. That “honor code,” we might say, gives both men and women the indispensable orientation required to act well as relational beings.

Perhaps from a feminist view, things are getting better, even without draconian interventions. The studies show men are acting less like gentleman than ever. One reason is their desire to adapt to the new modes of egalitarian fairness. Good men, if they come to believe that picking up the check, holding the car door, doing a woman’s heavy lifting are unfair, will stop doing them. But they do so in a confused and uncertain way: They remain romantic enough to believe that women are somehow special, to be protected and courted. Surely one reason why young men seem so dazed and confused these days is that they don’t have a clue about how to treat women. Nature and society are giving them such conflicting signals.

Liberating men from being habituated to gentlemanly manners and morals also might be thought to be even more dangerous than benevolent sexism. Surely we forced to admit that the “hook-up” culture of egalitarian reciprocal exploitation is harder on women than men. Not only that:

About a year ago, a group of today’s men were tested the way that the men on board the Titanic were. When the cruise ship Costa Concordia hit a rock and capsized off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, last January, men pushed women and children out of the way to save themselves.

Can anyone really say that the evolution toward egalitarian individualism from the relatively gentlemanly time of the Titanic to the dog-eat-dog time–a time when men when men are free from the illusions of benevolent sexism–of the Costa Concordia has made life safer for women in every respect?

A balanced view might be that the ideas of gentleman and lady surely can and should be reformed in an egalitarian direction without being abolished.

Surely egalitarianism can be compatible with a moral and mannered recognition of sexual difference. There remain differences, after all, between fathers and mothers. And in general, can’t we say that women, as a class, are weaker than men as a class? Maybe we can even add: In the absence of benevolent habituation, men as a class are more predatory than women as a class. “Gentle” men usually aren’t really born that way. We can see these differences without denying for a moment that men and women should both be treated as free individuals under the law.

One thing, as I’ve said before, that the subversive HBO series Girls teaches us is how clueless and unhappy young people are if they’ve lost all real touch with being ladies and gentlemen. That’s might be why we see the young women in Whit Stillman’s recent film Damsels in Distress attempting to help disoriented young men recover lost manners through social dancing.

Conservatives like Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. One reason is that Aristotle is so insistent that moral virtue is about habituation, about being raised right, about learning how to take pleasure in proudly choosing well as a free and relational being.

In a well-governed political community, men will take pride in being gentlemen, in being courageous and generous and magnanimous and friendly and, yes, just. It is true that ladies and gentleman know that love and friendship always rank higher than political justice, but I’ll spare you the lesson in chivalry.

Well, Aristotle was a sexist, you say! Not so fast, I will explain later. Let’s agree for now that much about what he says about moral virtue remains applicable, at least in broad outline, in our more obviously egaltarian and high-tech time.

What are your opinions on this article?

December 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

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Profile photo of ELI var namnet ELI var namnet (@manimal) 2 years, 3 months ago ago

@dalniente, Correct. However, I wonder why you’re so certain nobody knows for sure… whether there are or aren’t people out there who know is something you could only know if you were one of them.

You never know who holds the answers to your questions. Assuming that people don’t, that is a perfect way to miss out on a lot of knowledge and other good stuff.

There are huge differences between men and women, nobody should have to explain that or give examples, as it’s all really obvious and fundamental stuff. Social conditioning is also, in most cases, obvious and basic stuff.

Men are men, women are women. That’s all there’s to it. I love being a man, and I don’t see any reason why women shouldn’t love being women.
Feminists that have issues with being women are the real haters of women.

It’s funny, most people just have a good time, keeping it real, but then there’s the feminists who are just full of hatred and anger. Just because they’re jealous of what SOME men have.
Fucking ridiculous.

It’s not hard to discern which side is the crazy one.

Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 3 months ago ago

@manimal, someone’s view could be accurate without them knowing it. The reason why it’s so hard to figure out how much of a role socialization plays is that many of these things are extremely widespread (and ingrained), and thousands of years in the making. Just think of what it would take (possible ethical implications?) for in-depth research.

Profile photo of MPHill MPHill (@everymorningbornfromtheashes) 2 years, 3 months ago ago

I think the idea of feminism is to stop the “Some men” From being All the men, just in much the same way we have the occupy movements, why we had African Americans protest the million man march, and why we have gay rights and legalization happening right now. Because people stand up and change things, that they feel is ridiculous. Just as you know that feminism is ridiculous. How does society evolve? This is a great example! It is a social equalizer (I believe, you don’t have to). Nothing crazy about that in my opinion. I think both sides are crazy. If people feel wronged they should say so. If Some people benefit at the expense of others, then shame on them!

Annnnyyy ways @dalniente, thanks for your interest in this article. :)

:) @manimal, Lets be more civil please to the other members ;) Don’t fit a preconceived notion your claiming doesn’t do as wrong.

Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 3 months ago ago

Maybe being a gentleman should just be called kindness and if the woman doesn’t want to act the same way then that’s the source of the problem?


@everymorningbornfromtheashes, No shit they are capable, but there is an obvious biological reason some things are more chick-like or dude-like. And there is nothing wrong with people living like that.

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