The Problem When Sexism Sounds Friendly
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Problem When Sexism Sounds Friendly

Is benevolent sexism the new form of chivalry?

180
The Problem When Sexism Sounds Friendly
Feimineach

A while back, I wrote about a conversation I had with a male friend. I mentioned that as a response to something I stated, he remarked, "You're being overemotional. Stop acting like a girl." For reasons unknown to me at the time, this phrase was a trigger. Now that I've been able to reflect on this conversation three months later, I've come to realize that this phrase was a trigger because it is a degrading and sexist remark.

Recently, I had an argument with the same male friend and he made a new remark that upset me: "Your female intuition is failing." To another person, I will be deemed as being "extra" or "too emotional" because no one sees the issue with this phrase. For those very reasons, it is pertinent for me to explain how this phrase is a prime example of benevolentsexism.

Benevolent sexism is one of the hardest forms of sexism to recognize. This form of sexism appears as "a chivalrous attitude toward women that feels favorable, but is actually sexist because it casts women as weak creatures in need of men's protection." So how is the phrase counted as benevolent sexism? This phrase is benevolent sexism because it sounds (almost) complimentary. "Your female intuition is failing." That alludes to the idea that women are naturally more intuitive than men, but it also subtly implies that women are incapable of thinking logically. So if women are unable to think logically, does that mean men "pick up our slack?" Precisely (or at least that is the assumption).

And this is the issue with benevolent sexism. Most women fail to recognize it, because something that sounds friendly can't possibly be sexist, right? Wrong. It may sound like a compliment, but it still counts as sexism. Men use benevolent sexism (whether overtly or covertly) in an effort to justify women's subordinate status to their male counterparts.

The true issue arises when both women and men fail to understand the problem with benevolent sexism. If these sexist remarks seem to be nothing more than compliments, then why are they problematic? For starters, the "positive" comments leave a trail of typical stereotypes concerning women, and it hints to the idea of masculine dominance (the man is the provider and the woman is his dependent). Some women may still see no issue with this and that is okay, but to other women, especially women working in a male-dominated field, benevolent sexism is a serious issue.

As aforementioned, benevolent sexism can be difficult to spot. Unfortunately, it is likely that most women have already encountered it. Benevolent sexism appears in phrases such as: "Women have motherly instincts," "Women are more nurturing" and "Women are more intuitive." These common phrases support society's stereotypes of women, but at the same time, it contributes to the benevolent sexism that affects men. When these phrases reinforce the stereotypes about women, it suggests that men are not allowed to express gentleness, kindness and intuition. Men are deemed to be more aggressive and more logical, but bad at household chores and communicating.

There is no guarantee that benevolent sexism (and all forms of sexism) will cease to exist, but it is no secret that steps need to be taken. Most benevolent sexism is spoken by men, so because men seem to admire these qualities about women, they should work to achieve those qualities themselves. When men do possess these qualities, they should not be penalized and/or ostracized for them. The first step to eradicating benevolent sexism is to first be able to recognize it when it occurs.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

110904
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments