Friday, November 30, 2012

Benevolent Sexism

At first it looks like a parody.

It looks as though someone with less than tender feelings about feminism had published some pseudo-research that would make feminists look like fools.

The Onion could not have done a better job.

Unfortunately, it’s not a parody. It’s what passes these days for serious research by scholars from a serious American university.

With heavy heart we turn to Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker’s article, entitled: “Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing?” Co-authored by a graduate student and a professor at the University of Florida, is has been published by a scholarly Journal called the Psychology of Women Quarterly.

Here is how the PWQ describes itself:

Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ) is a feminist, scientific, peer-reviewed journal that publishes empirical research, critical reviews and theoretical articles that advance a field of inquiry, brief reports on timely topics, teaching briefs, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender.

The journal is so reputable that it charges $25.00 to read Connelly and Heesacker’s pseudo-research.

The buzz words in the description—“scientific,” “peer-reviewed,” “empirical research”—would lead you to believe that the articles in this review aspire to present objective facts.

In truth, they present feminist propaganda organ gussied up as serious academic research. 

It’s easier to indoctrinate your students in your ideology if you pretend that your dogmas are hard science.

When a journal uses the trappings that accompany serious scholarship to hide its game, it is doing what I would call it cargo-cult scholarship.

The term cargo-cult originated with indigenous Pacific Islanders during World War II. Until the American military arrived in their midst these peoples had never before seen airplanes deliver provisions. When the cargo planes began to arrive they noticed that prior to each landing the soldiers set out two rows of smudge pots to demarcate a landing zone.

Naturally enough, they concluded that if they needed some now provisions all they had to do was to put out the smudge pots.

Thus, a cargo cult goes through the motions but does not deliver the goods.

A more benevolent soul than I, Charles Murray declares the Connelly/Heesacker research a window into the wild and wacky world of academic research. I see it as a sign of the systematic corruption of the marketplace of ideas.

Here is the authors’ abstract of the results of their research:

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.

Murray points out that “benevolent sexism” means gentlemanly behavior. He entitles his post: “The bad news is that gentlemanly behavior makes people happy.”

I’m assuming that the authors are echoing the concept of “benevolent despotism,” an eighteenth century practice whereby European rulers tried to manage the rising demands for greater freedom by instituting “benevolent” reforms.

Connelly/Heesacker have discovered that when men behave like gentlemen toward women it produces “life satisfaction” for both parties.

They conclude that gentlemanly behavior is “dangerous” and that we must intervene “to reduce its prevalence.”

By their pseudo-reasoning, the positive benefits that accrue to men and women when men act like gentlemen provide a false sense of satisfaction that undermines the feminist revolution.

It’s not a new idea. It echoes an old idea that we owe to Karl Marx. Translated it means that “benevolent sexism” is the opiate of the masses.

Since I did not spring for the $25.00 fee to read the article, I can only surmise that by benevolent sexism the authors mean such simple courtesies as asking a woman out on a date, paying for her, holding the door for her, helping her with her coat, accompanying her home and so on.

This argument is not new. It came in with second wave feminism. It was intended to assert women’s independence and autonomy. It resulted in more men treating more women discourteously and disrespectfully.

From a feminist perspective, if a man acted like a gentleman, a woman was expected to act like a lady. This was a bad thing, a betrayal of a woman's allegiance to the feminist cult.

Feminists believed that gentlemanly behavior signified that women were the weaker sex, needing male protection.

They also believed that when a man paid for dinner and a show a woman felt obligated to repay the favor with her “favors.”

From a feminist perspective it’s better for women to give it away for free because then she will not feel that she is being bought.

As I say, feminists have been rebelling against “benevolent sexism” for around four decades now.

As a result, women are more likely to be abused. They are more likely to be used for sex. They are less likely to be involved in sustained relationships.

Men have been excoriated for acting courteously and politely, lest they be accused of being patronizing, so they have concluded that they need to act badly toward women.

Men concluded that they could further the revolutionary feminist cause by being revolting.

When feminism decided that courtship and even dating was a relic of a bygone age, all the rude, lewd, crude dudes rejoiced.

Today, Connelly and Heesacker have their backs.


n.n said...

So, this is why respecting individual dignity is an unattractive proposition. It serves to limit the leverage some individuals and cooperatives are capable of exerting in order to extort concessions or compliance.

It has not been my experience to observe a prevalence of this degenerate behavior. This leads me to question just how many people actually support this nonsense, despite a voting record which seems to indicate a majority.

n.n said...

Dating has been equated to prostitution. While marriage has been described as slavery.

The "progress" women have enjoyed is to keep them barefoot and available for sex and taxation. I wonder how many women feel liberated by this dysfunctional outcome.

It seems the immediate consequence of progress or liberation was a departure from reason and reasonable.

Anonymous said...

For a bit of contrast, I consider the Islamic world, where women are largely not allowed in the public sphere, or at least not accompanied by a husband or male relative, and its all justified in the name of protecting women, so benevolent sexism again perhaps.

And so I imagine perhaps half of the women are largely happy to be restricted to expressing themselves only in the private spheres, and "let" men handle all the messy aspects of earning a living, but another half might be less enthusiastic at the cultural restrictions imposed on them for the own supposed benefit.

So I imagine the unhappily constrained women might try to organize themselves to expand their freedoms, and try to recognize the positive benefits of not needing to have a public existence, to devote all their energy into learning how to show gratitude to the men in their lives who daily suffer the indignity of the public sphere, so their women can be free from it, so they can devote their energy to birth and raise their 6 or 7 or 10 beautiful children like their grandparents did.

Saudi Arabia would appear to be one such oasis, but they can sometimes look across the border to more secular Iraq or Libya where women can do more, and wonder if they are missing out on something important, and start looking at the traditional trappings sometimes as a cage rather than a palace, and think perhaps they have more strengths to give back to the world than being mothers and wives.'s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

So what if women in SA start refusing the ritual blessings that men offer women, even knowing it hurts their men, but as an act of autonomy, they want to drive their own car thank you, and hope other kindnesses can replace the ones that must be surrendered.

I don't know what to make of it all, but I'll give credit to the traditionalists that something is always lost, and its hard to tell what it is while you're fighting to feel like a grownup in a world that wants to protect you from making your own mistakes and learning, but I'd hope things go in cycles, and women don't have to all act the same way, so some can choose to practice standing on a pedestal and letting generous men marry them to care for them, and others can become doctors and not feel bad not all women want to have important jobs in the world, that some women also want to have 6 or 8 to 10 children, and that might all be good?

So perhaps the problem is we don't have 2 genders, but 2 dozen genders, and traditionalists fight a bit too hard to put everyone back down into 2 distinct boxes, and perhaps reformers fall into the same traps?

Anyway, I guess I'm not so judgemental against feminists recognizing tradition is a pain in the ass, and being a bit naive that getting rid of traditions will make everything better? Perhaps the authors write in a more nuanced tone in the actual article we can't see?


Sam L. said...

If Murray is correct, then obviously men should treat women like dirt. Which is what you, Mr. S, say C&H's conclusion seems to point out.

Tom, I suspect you are too generous to C&H. By a couple orders of magnitude, if not six or more.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think it good to avoid arguing by invoking extremes. Saudi Arabia is clearly an extreme. As is the feminist assertion that men and women are exactly the same thing and thus that men should never act like gentlemen around ladies.

Surely, there is a happy middle ground between these extremes.

I wasn't really saying that C and H are prescribing a certain kind of behavior. I was saying that their ideas, when put into practice seem to cause men to treat women with less respect... and that women seem to be willing to accept it.

Kristi Herman said...

Tom: And yet, we have in the western world the example of the way a woman like Sarah Palin was treated for making her own decisions. It was despicable.

It would indeed, be nice if feminists could recognize that the vast majority of women would prefer marriage and children (maybe even 6 or 8 or 10) to having "important jobs." And yet, they condescend, as do you, although I will give you some credit for doing it a great deal more gently than some others.

I'm also a tad curious how so many women will have so many "important" jobs, when the economy can only support so many "important" jobs. Every feminist believes they will be a chief and not a peon.

And then, there is also the question of what constitutes an "important" job to begin with. I suspect that your definition of "important" is very narrow.

Dennis said...

Kristi makes a good point. At some point, a point we have already reached, we will have to many graduates from colleges and universities that most of those graduates will NOT find a job in their skill set. Too many lawyers, managers, et al and not enough doers.
Already one is seeing rising costs of a college education with graduates at the Bachelor's level earning 14 percent less. I have mentioned before that we would be far better off putting much of the money we spend on colleges and universities into technical schools. It is the people who actually know how things work and produce what we need in order to make our lives easier and more productive that are "important.".
I suspect that in a very short time many women are going to see their wages drop in comparison to, dare I say it, plumbers, AC specialists, car mechanics and the other fields that make and keep things running. Again it will be blamed on the effects of the patriarchy instead of market forces.
It is pretty simply stuff. When everyone has a degree then those degrees are worth less and less.
Question: Who has done more to improve the health of large concentrations of people, the garbage man or the doctor? With out the garbage man a doctor is fighting a losing battle. So what is an important job. The fact is that they are all important in their way or they would not exist as a job.
There were times when I used to act as a mediator between engineers and the people who have to make the things that engineers ideate. They were both equally important.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Good point, Dennis. I don't recall where I read it, but I have heard that the reason there is much less disease and a more longer lifespan than there was, for example, a century or so ago, is improved public sanitation systems. WE owe this to the Industrial Revolution and modern industry, and certainly to the garbage man....

Dennis said...

One should never underestimate the importance of the jobs of others. It is some what like contemplating the 4 fingers and 1 thumb on each hand. We know that they have a certain functionality, but never give it much thought until we get a sore on any one of them and have to do without it. Then is when we realize how important that particular finger or thumb is to us.
It continually amaze me at people who live in large metropolitan areas and how little respect they have for the people who make their lives possible. The farmer, the truck driver, the maker/producer, fly over country, the soldier, et al. The country can live without the metropolitan areas whereas the metropolitan areas cannot survive without the country.
There are many jobs that only have relevance to a strong growing prosperous economy and many of those are the ones that feminists and leftist seem to think of as important to the detriment of society as a whole. A lawyer is only as good as the willingness of others to pay heed to those laws. A nurse or a doctor is only so good as the quality of services they provide to their patients. A financial consultant is only as good as the advise he/she can provide to an investor and what value money has attained. A manager is only so good as his/her ability to properly man, materials, et al to create a product that others need. A government is only so good as the freedoms, defense and quality of life it ensures to its citizens.
The are important, but NOT important to the main requisites of existence.