‘Benevolent sexism’: Men who open doors for women can be just as sexist as those who are rude to them, study finds

Psychologists found that a friendly or chivalrous attitude can mask chauvinistic views because men view women as weak creatures in need of their protection.

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Men who open the door for women are just as guilty of sexism as those who are rude to them, according to a new study.

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Psychologists found that a friendly or chivalrous attitude can mask chauvinistic and condescending views because men view women as weak creatures in need of their protection.

They warned that this “benevolent sexism” was harder to detect than the hostile version that stemmed from outright antipathy.

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Jin Goh, a psychologist at Northeastern University in Boston in the US, said: “While many people are sensitive to sexist verbal slurs, they may not easily associate sexism with warmth and kindness. Unless sexism is understood to have both hostile and benevolent properties, the insidious nature of benevolent sexism will continue to be one of the driving forces behind gender inequality.

While many people are sensitive to sexist verbal abuse, they may not easily associate sexism with warmth and kindness.

The study, believed to be the first of its kind, involved 27 pairs of US college men and women. The participants were filmed playing a trivia game together and chatting afterwards. The experts then analyzed their interaction by reporting their impressions and counting certain nonverbal cues, such as smiles.

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Word counting software was also used to further analyze their behavior.

The scientists found that the more hostile sexist participants were perceived as less approachable and friendly in their speech and smiled less during the interaction.

In turn, those who displayed benevolent sexism were considered more approachable, warm, friendly, and more likely to smile. They also used more positive emotional words and were generally more patient while waiting for a woman to answer trivia questions.

The study, published in the journal sex roles, says that the way a man smiles and talks to women will reveal his true attitude. Professor Judith Hall, co-author, said: “Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing perpetuating support for gender inequality among women on an interpersonal level. These supposed good faith gestures can entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally seems welcoming, attractive and harmless.”

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The study was the first to capture nonverbal and verbal expressions of sexism during mixed-gender interaction, and to explore how the two types of sexist beliefs are expressed differently.

Earlier this week, actress Emma Watson called for women to be allowed to be chivalrous after revealing that a date turned her down when she offered to pay for dinner. The Harry Potter The actress said that although the man considered himself a feminist, the prospect of her paying “was not going down well”.

Speaking as part of the HeForShe campaign for gender equality in her role as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, Watson said women should be able to pay for dinners or open the door for a man.

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