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December 2, 2012

Revisiting "Benevolent Sexism"

Some of you may remember my post last year about benevolent sexism (called "The Post in Which I Admit I'm a Sexist Pig") and how stupid the whole idea of it is.

For those of you who didn't catch it (and who are too lazy to go to the link, and what do I pay you for anyway if you don't go to my links? Oh, I don't pay you...never mind), "benevolent sexism" is basically gentlemanly behaviour. Doing nice things for a woman, like opening a door, helping her with a heavy bag, that sort of thing. You're doing it out of the goodness of your heart, but you're still a HEARTLESS SCUMBAG!

Ahem. Sorry. My inner-feminist-idiot reared its ugly head there for a moment. All better now.

Yes, even if you are doing nice things, you are still demeaning the woman by helping her.

Why am I revisiting this subject? Because there's an interesting new post on the topic that I'd like to highlight.

Charles Murray, of the American Enterprise Institute, has highlighted a new study that shows that "benevolent sexism" does tend to make both parties happy. Yes, both the man and the woman.

He quotes from the abstract, which I shall also do now (though his quote is more extensive):
"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."
So let me get this straight. It makes the man happy when he does something for the woman. It makes the woman happy when she has something done for her.

So it's dangerous? Something that is beneficial to both sides of the equation is dangerous and must be stamped out?

I don't know about you, but I think the world needs a few doses of injected happiness (no, not that kind of injected happiness) amid all the doom and gloom out there.

That shouldn't surprise us, though. If you see this kind of behaviour as threatening, then making it more agreeable is just going to make it even more threatening to your status quo.

Charles' conclusion is beautiful:
"When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn’t 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?"
Go read the post for the comments as well. Some very good ones in there.

It's "studies" like this that just boggle my mind.


  1. I remember the original article you wrote on this one, and I remember the gist of my response/rant. ;)

    I have an even better suggestion to top ol' Charlie's suggestion - why not use the money wasted on this boneheaded study to accomplish something of higher value? Like feeding hungry, homeless people. Or providing warm winter coats for those in need. Or feeding pets at animal shelters. Or heck...protecting the migratory path of the yellow crested looby. I cringe on a regular basis at the amount of money poured into these pointless studies.

    We as a logical, reasoning society probably already knew that good manners make us feel good. Right?! Isn't that common sense? Good manners and etiquette exist for more than a need to enforce rigid rules - they exist to respect those around us. Give those around us respect and hey...they're going to feel good! WE are going to feel good because THEY feel good from our actions, and it repeats. Duh. *smh*

    Happy Monday, Dave! I would sweep a proper curtsy if I could, because, you's good manners and all... ;-)

    - Dawnie

    1. (Yay! I remembered the "reply" button! :))

      I'm with you Dawnie, but I would like to think that Cooke agrees with you too, and he's just saying "if we are presented with the results of something like this, why should we be against those results?

      You're right, it all boils down to respect, and maybe that's why these things are out of fashion. Because there is too little respect in the world anymore.

      Happy Monday to you too, hon! I would love to see you sweep a proper curtsy. Maybe someday. :)


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