With the excellent debate going on in response to the recent Wise Guys question about men behaving chivalrously, we thought we’d stir the pot a bit by mentioning studies that suggest chivalrous behavior is a subtle yet harmful form of sexism, known as benevolent sexism. The term was coined in 1996 by the first study of this kind (as far as we know), which showed that men who exhibit signs of chivalry (opening doors open for women, always paying for the date, being protective) often exhibit signs of hostile sexism as well (thinking of women as less intelligent, weaker creatures whose place is in the home). These findings were supported by another study by the University of Michigan several years later. Dr. Daisy Grewal, writing for Psychology Today earlier this year, has a compelling round-up of a lot of the research on the topic, saying that “Both perspectives [hostile and benevolent sexism] fail to view women as multi-faceted equals to men.” She gets a heated response from a fellow Psych Today blogger, but Grewal holds her own in the comments section of that post (plus, that is the haircut of a smarmy benevolent sexist if ever we saw one). Have a read, then please to discuss.
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