Is chivalry sexist? Feminist psychologists say yes
Is holding a door or pulling up a chair for the opposite sex polite and chivalrous, or actually a form of ‘benevolent sexism’? One study reckons it’s the latter.
Researchers from the Society for the Psychology of Women in Washington DC have concluded that these actions are forms of unnoticed sexism, and have published a study that even provided a list of potential no-nos.
The group published findings from a study from Julia C. Becker and Janet K. Swim entitled ‘Seeing the Unseen: Attention to Daily Encounters With Sexism as Way to Reduce Sexist Beliefs’. Both ladies (is that sexist to say?) are members of the respective Departments of Psychology for Philipps University in Marburg and Pennsylvania State University in the US.
Among the offensive acts a man could accidentally provide include a man helping his wife with the shopping or offering to drive on a long distance journey, as the very offer apparently suggests the implication that the man believes his partner ‘should not have to grapple with’ such tasks.
In the study’s Appendix, numerous distinctions were made for incidents that involved ‘Awareness of Sexism Condition’. These ranged from ‘Benevolent Sexist Incidents’ (complimenting a woman’s cooking, insisting on driving her home) and ‘Blatant Sexist Incidents’ (ogling, referring to a woman as a ‘chick’).
The transatlantic study was conducted after college students in the US and Germany volunteered to keep diaries to note and document incidents of perceived sexism, while not being told the full purpose of the research itself.
Co-authors Julia Becker and Janet Swim concluded that women ‘endorse sexist beliefs, at least in part, because they do not attend to subtle, aggregate forms of sexism in their personal lives’.
On the other hand, it was found that ‘Many men not only lack attention to such incidents but also are less likely to perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women’. Great work ladies, we’ll be sure to get you both a beer in recognition of your service if you ever pop over to Dublin. You’ll have to pay for it though, obviously.