X Close

What sort of sexist are you? The superficial niceness of benevolent sexism allows boys to hang onto it more easily

Women aren't always in need of chivalrous attention.

Women aren't always in need of chivalrous attention.


April 30, 2020   4 mins

Like many parents of my class and background, I embarked on my childrearing adventure with an earnest commitment to gender neutrality. My children would not learn of “girl toys” and “boy toys”. My children would never have cause to think anything off limits to them because of their sex. My children would be — and how this was supposed to happen in defiance of the entire rest of the society and all my own baggage I cannot imagine, and yet I really did believe it would happen — beacons of individuality in a sexist world.

My children were, by the time they started school, both very much not with the plan. My daughter lived in a sequinned flurry of princess dresses and “clip-clop” shoes. My son’s favourite outfit was any miniature replica football kit. All things considered, it was a dispiriting experience, and many parents have simply declared themselves defeated upon experiencing the same wreck of their ideals against the stubborn will of a small child. If this is what their child wants, then it must be because there is a deep-down elemental truth to gender stereotypes that adult meddling cannot deny.

But children are not the finished article, something underlined by research just published in the journal Sex Roles by Matthew D. Hammond and Andrei Cimpian. According to the study (which surveyed children from New York and Illinois), both boys and girls are more sexist at five than they are at 11. What can seem like the instinctive expression of hard-wired tendencies — dolls and pink versus toy cars and blue, and each sphere vigorous in its exclusion of the other — is just a phase. Psychologist Cordelia Fine calls children at this stage “gender detectives”, in tribute to their dogged commitment to learning and applying every possible law of being a girl or a boy.

Which is to say, there’s probably something intrinsic going on here, but it’s about the process rather than the output. Girls aren’t attracted to pink because, say, their eyes are specially adapted to spotting berries (one of the more recherche theories of colour preference to have been advanced), but because they’ve figured out that they’re a girl and girls are meant to like pink. Boys don’t turn away from Barbie because she’s an affront to the “systematising” tendencies that Simon Baron-Cohen claimed characterise the male brain (the female brain is allegedly blessed with a complementary talent for “empathising”), but because they’ve learned that she’s not a toy for boys.

Over time, the zeal of this early rule acquisition relents, and all this is a lesson to parents – whatever their personal position on gender stereotyping – not to put too much stock in the preferences of small children. If you’re anxious for your daughter’s Snow White phase to end, all you need to do is white-knuckle your way through several hundred plays of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” while she gets over it. The same goes, incidentally, for parents who think their young child’s passionate attachment to opposite-sex-typical things means their child really is the opposite sex. As is often the case in childrearing, the best first response is to chill the heck out.

However, the Sex Roles researchers found that not all sexism retreats in the same way in all children. Sexism come in two flavours: hostile and benevolent. Hostile sexism is the kind of thing that can comfortably be recognised as misogyny. Considering women to be intellectually inferior, over-emotional or physically feeble all come under the heading of hostile sexism. Benevolent sexism covers those tropes that are harder to dispute, because superficially flattering — like the belief that women are naturally kind and sweet-natured, and so in need of men’s chivalrous attentions.

Hostile and benevolent sexism are not opposite belief systems, but interrelated. The more strongly an individual cleaves to one of them, the more strongly they tend to cling to the other. “Why are girls to be told that they resemble angels; but to sink them below women?” asked Mary Wollstonecraft in her Vindication. The more one holds to an image of what women should be, the more one can righteously despise women for failing to attain that feminine perfection. (Think of the incel underbelly, where men simultaneously yearn to be protectors to women, and rail bitterly against the women who decline to be protected.)

For both girls and boys, hostile sexism declines as they mature. For girls, benevolent sexism declines too. But in boys, the researchers found that benevolent sexism persisted. And benevolent sexism, despite its name, is hardly kind to women. Benevolent sexism would deny a woman a promotion, not because she’d be bad at the job, but because wouldn’t she rather be spared the stress? Benevolent sexism says, no need for women to worry about equal pay, because their husbands should be looking after them. Benevolent sexism says, women spend their time in unwaged drudge work because women are just inherently empathetic to others’ needs.

Why should benevolent sexism have this strange persistence in boys? Hammond and Cimpian speculate that while both sexes have their hostile sexism knocked out of them by its obvious social unacceptability, and while girls rapidly learn the limitations of being an angel, the superficial niceness of benevolent sexism allows boys to hang onto it more easily. With it, they conveniently get to retain the sense of superiority they picked up as small children along with all those things they learned about action toys and wearing blue.

Obviously it’s not all boys. But benevolent sexism is the animating force behind the dread figure of the male feminist – the ones who pitch up to the movement not because they intend to change themselves (God forbid), but because they refuse to believe that women don’t want to be looked after. Once, after a panel on women’s rights, a male audience member bounded up to me and one of the other participants to ask: what could men do? When my fellow panellist responded not by offering him a star role in feminism, but instead suggested he could start by not leaving all the housework to his female partner, his face collapsed into disappointment like an iceberg crumbling into the sea.

Unpicking sexism is the work of a lifetime and a society. It can only be done with an understanding of sexism’s self-protective double-nature, the hostile and the benevolent. Because while the ills of outright woman-hating are easy to delineate and organise against, there’s a more intractable affront to female freedom in the subtle form of the gentle-faced man who swears he just really – really – loves women and wants to look after them. When treating women like princesses who want to be rescued is deemed just as unacceptable as treating them with contempt, we might be getting somewhere.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

sarahditum

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

60 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

Sorry, but this is not exactly ‘UnHerd’. We have all read this stuff countless times in The Guardian etc, and heard it a countless times on the BBC-NN.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Agreed -I’m rightfully cautious about following the progressive drive to ‘cancel’ or ‘no platform’ opinions you don’t like, but this is different -in this case it’s not because the views expressed are repellant (they are) but because they are such unoriginal thought, and in fact insulting to original thought …

The unherd editorial team should exercise some editorial control.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think it’s quality control not left/right control we need. I’d love to read some good quality stuff from the left, and there are interesting thinkers out there.

But this is just one of the endless repeats served up (usually) for the uncritical souls who read the Guardian.

So long as the quality control is right, the rest will take care of itself.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

Benevolent sexism forgives female journalists for posting sub Guardian level writing on Unherd. I come to Unherd to hear something new, or at least to get a new perspective on something old. This is just the same old, same old. There’s even the obligatory dig at male feminists – who really ought to get the message and take up a new hobby. And as for:

Benevolent sexism would deny a woman a promotion, not because she’d be bad at the job, but because wouldn’t she rather be spared the stress? Benevolent sexism says, no need for women to worry about equal pay, because their husbands should be looking after them.

In what parallel world does this happen? Unless, of course, the woman concerned has a genuine history of failing to deal well with stress.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
4 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

…and ignorant feminists say “…continue to agitate women about equal pay, even though it has been a legal requirement for decades.”

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

This is one of the most stupidly ignorant articles I have ever read on the subject.

It beggars belief.

As someone who has considerable experience in the fields of psychology and child development (not that you even need that knowledge to know intuitively there is something deeply wrong here) it’s just hard to know where to begin…

I’m mindful of the wisdom contained in the sage advice; never argue with an idiot because they’ll just bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. And this article is pure ideological idiocy, from someone very experienced at it.

What I would say briefly is that this is exactly the sort of thinking that can abandon children to one of the worst developmental fates of all. To have your parents’ authoritarian dogma shape your world for you, and your place in it, before you have even had a chance to experience it for yourself is one of the worst possible beginnings in life.

To be constantly lectured on your inherent ‘benevolent’ or ‘hostile’ ‘sexism’ (notwithstanding even more loathesome tags like ‘toxic masculinity’ etc…).

To fear making free choices because of the ‘moral’ do-gooding lecture which will inevitably accompany each and every action- the chastising and opprobrium that meets every simple exchange -equally the saccharine ‘approval’ which meets every compliance -lectures that get internalised and repeated within (for that is their purpose) and that subsequently inhibit any truly free personal development.

This is not ‘good parenting’ -it’s emotional abuse. To not be ‘seen’ by your parents -because they are so preoccupied by their own ‘better’ ideas of what they would like to see in you – is one of the most chronically debilitating forms of emotional neglect -leading oftentimes to an overwhelming sense that ‘you never became yourself’.

I shake my head in despair, and sorrow, because it is frankly too awful to think about -that there are people in this world who imagine the sort of ‘thinking’ presented in this article to be worthy, virtuous and ‘bettering’.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

Thank you. You are probably right. The article understandably provoked my wrath -which of course is part of its unpleasant intent.

I thought perhaps what has not been clearly articulated in many of the comments -indicative of the highly divisive nature of radicalised feminism – is just how equally depriving this sort of parenting experience is for girls too. This perhaps goes without saying, but I think it is important to acknowledge that this sort of feminism seeks to divide the sexes, and in so doing it is easy to forget that girls are also its unfortumate victims and suffer real loss as a consequence.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago

Excellent point. Thank you.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

There is an argument that many universities and academic institutions have been completely overrun by highly politicised (most usually from the radical left), ideologically driven professionals proselytising their narrow beliefs over and above any provision of capacity for critical thinking and independent thought. I recall I endured this unpleasantness in my own university years ago -marked down for ‘positivistic’ thought, demonising my own canon of literature because it played well with the senior lecturers, focussing on race and culture in textual studies -all bullshit but tragically the stuff that got better marks. We used to joke sardonically that Marx gets marks.

This new wave of feminism has its roots in the same Marxist ideologies of universal oppression; It has a lot of traction in universities I think because it appeals to a particular type of adolescent mode of thinking (narcissistic sense of self, struggles in individuation, need for group identity etc…); it has a very simple theoretical underpinning ‘I’m suffering – I don’t like it -I don’t want to own it -I must be oppressed -who can I most easily blame for my oppression’.

It’s inherently self serving for those of a particular narcissistic disposition. I think most people go through something like this in their lives, and then, if things go well, they discover a world in which they can actually function (in healthy relatedness to others) and have some good effect; they gradually grow out of it.

This sort of pseudo ‘research’ -it’s hardly ever scientific in any true sense of the word -is easy to write and cheap to produce, and because of the inherent biases of its authors it can be reliably depended upon to produce the sort of data that readily confirms the political beliefs of its authors.

The sorts of degrees and Phds the authors submit to are very easy to bullshit one’s way through -requiring little in terms of intellectual motility and building every paper on exactly the theoetical basis outlined above.

It’s extremely provocative though – you may observe in life how people who nurse grievances and harbour resentments stir up real anger and irritation in those who have to listen to them -much the same sort of thing is happening on a global scale with so called progressive thinking and woke culture. These poeple get attention because normal people find them intensely irritating and feel compelled to respond. That way they get more attention. We all know deep down the sensible thing is to just ignore them but they are just so intensely irritating -often (ironically) building up levels of grievance and resentment in ourselves -as if we pick up their projection and have to act it out in some way just to rid ourselves of it.

In the world of media this equates to media attention -if you were the editor of unherd, you couldn’t not be swayed by the amount of attention this dreadful piece generated and conclude that at least it gets readers, and maybe those readers will go on to read the much healthier articles published elsewhere.

The solace in all this is that in terms of people’s actual behaviours it seems to produce little real change. Studies in Sweden, referenced elsewhere in this section strongly indicate that the further a culture moves towards legislative implementation of gender neutraiity the more those differences manifest themselves.

Mark Kerridge
Mark Kerridge
4 years ago

Just to note that the journal ” Sex Roles ” w, mentioned in this article, was one of publications that accepted a joke paper written as part of the grievance studies hoax by James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Bogosian. Just saying ..

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Kerridge

Which article? Not « dog park? »

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago

As others have already pointed out, this is the same old feminist claptrap, most of which can be filed under “debunked feminist myths”.

One myth remains unaddressed however, the myth of the “pay gap”, which in reality is an earning gap.

Women aren’t paid less because of their gender- in Canada and the States, anyway, where it has been illegal for decades- but they do earn less because they work fewer hours full time, and a greater proportion of women than men work part time.

Because most part time work pays less, women are more likely to get paid less per hour on average because of that fact alone. If you crunch the numbers, even when men and women are paid the same, women will only receive 81% of what men earn. Nothing sexist about it.

The knock-on effect, by the way, is that men have less time to spend on housework, by an amount pretty much equal to the greater number of hours spent at their employment.

Feminists have managed to convince themselves that they are somehow being victimized by the patriarchy on both ends of this-women supposedly being paid less, and men not contributing equally at home- when both are a consequence of female choice to work less.

Nothing says privilege as much as the “right” to blame others for the logical consequences of your own choices, and then to complain incessantly about being a victim.

mzeemartin8
mzeemartin8
4 years ago

If it was a “dispiriting experience” that your children chose traditional sex roles. It is a curiosity that you should disapprove of your boys acting like typical boys and your girls acting like typical girls, but your disappointment in them is your own form of social norming.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
4 years ago

“What kind of sexist are you?”
“When did you stop abusing your husband?”

David Stanley
David Stanley
4 years ago

I think one of the problems with ‘benevolent sexism’ is that women themselves often ask for it. If my wife and I realise we’ve left the garden gate open at night she will ask me to go down and shut it. It’s not as if she’s getting her hat and coat on and I push her away and say ‘stand aside fair maiden, this is a risk too far for your delicate constitution’. She wants me to do it and I’m happy to.

A lot of feminists assume that when a woman doesn’t behave as they think she should it must be because of some kind of brainwashing. The idea that there are different ways to see the world and we’re not all going to agree, no matter how many bow and arrow sets you give to your daughters, is anathema to them. As they say, just because you make an unwise choice doesn’t mean you lack capacity.

The fact is there are certain gender roles that are present in all higher primates. In humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans females do the majority of childcare and males commit the majority of violence. The idea that this is a social construct is absurd. What kind of TV shows do gorillas watch? What about the hunter gatherers of the Europe 5 thousand years ago, were they being conditioned by Disney Cartoons?

There clearly is an innate set of gendered behaviors that are hard wired into our nature. That doesn’t mean that every individual will slavishly conform to them all, nor should they. However, it is crazy to believe that human beings are somehow entirely products of a culture that we ourselves created.

Bill Brookman
Bill Brookman
4 years ago

I read UnHerd precisely so that I don’t have to read this
claptrap.

David George
David George
4 years ago

I’ve no idea, and you don’t explain, why you decided to make “an earnest commitment to gender neutrality” but as you soon found out the kids will have their own preferences.
The evolutionary biologists and psychologists have looked at the part our biology plays; perhaps, Sarah, you could find a lot of answers to the questions troubling you from their research.
Why are women physically attracted to strong, courageous, tall, successful men for instance. Perhaps millions of years of evolution and feminine sexual selection have also installed these qualities in men. The feminist type bloke you speak of, young Soyboy McSnowflake, has few options; desperately, pathetically hanging round at a feminist meeting.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
4 years ago

Is the article best classified as hostile sexism or benevolent sexism? Since it draws on Marxist theories of oppression I would tend to see it as hostile.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
4 years ago

This is the most sexist article I have read for a while.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

This is like reverse trolling -the article represents the worst of humanity with its crazy offensive ‘keyboard warrior’ online views, whilst the comments section is thoughtful, intelligent and sane.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago

Considering women to be intellectually inferior, over-emotional or physically feeble all come under the heading of hostile sexism.

That is what they call a Kafka trap. If I’d like to discuss the gender differences between the sexes in the big 5, I am by definition a hostile sexist misogynist. Any calm discussions is excluded by accusing me of sexism before you hear my arguments. It is quite an ugly rhetoric trick.

However, we do agree that men should learn to stop their benevolent sexism against women. In our society all people have equal rights (ok, women a tad more nowadays); if you want to be a modern feminist, good for you! However, after the sexes, fortunately, achieved equality in the sixties, we somehow got into a situation that any opposition to ideals held by feminists is branded as pure unadulterated evil. No need to argue her case. It actually got so bad that I regularly see husbands sadly shrug their shoulders behind their nonsense spouting wife, knowing that any discussion either ends in a shrieking voice, tears. The only thing is sure he will be guilty and she will be the victim, but never a rational argumentation to find the truth or core disagreement.

Just consider issues like the wage gap, the significantly higher success rate of male companies, the domination of men on almost every competitive profession, etc. Since there is no provable discrimination going on, since that would be very illegal, one would conclude men are, on average more comfortable in the harsh & competitive outside world. Drawing such a conclusion would be the law of Occam razor, you need extra-ordinary evidence for an extra-ordinary claim. However, instead you try to gaslight us into believing in some systemic sexism, that nobody can see & prove, but that is the only cause of these large sex differences. Another word for this is Voodoo.

So I agree we should stop the benevolent sexism that those husbands exercise towards their wives, and other men against articles like this. Maybe men should start talking back since we’re reaching a dangerous area. Somehow after women took over primary education in the seventies, the difference between boys and girls in university education rose to a staggering 20%. Women are overwhelmingly advantaged over men in (semi) government jobs. And there is not enough space here to discuss all the other areas where boys have fallen behind.

It is heartening to see how many reasoned reactions there are on this article; your advise to stop benevolent sexism seems to work quite well. Enjoy it!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

“It actually got so bad that I regularly see husbands sadly shrug their shoulders behind their nonsense spouting wife, knowing that any discussion either ends in a shrieking voice, tears.”

Well said.

“Maybe men should start talking back since we’re reaching a dangerous area. Somehow after women took over primary education in the seventies, the difference between boys and girls in university education rose to a staggering 20%. Women are overwhelmingly advantaged over men in (semi) government jobs. And there is not enough space here to discuss all the other areas where boys have fallen behind.”

Well said.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago

I’m an average middle-aged white conservative male and, as the father of kids of both genders now in their mid-20’s, for me it depends on which kind of feminist we’re talking about. Are we talking about the kind of feminist who hates men, or the kind of feminist who wants women to have the same opportunities and responsibilities as men?

p.s. I agree with the tenor of your other comments, that this article is of the former sort. Misandry of the kind excreted by Sarah Ditum makes my blood boil.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I’m sure many feminists think and behave in the way you describe, which I completely agree is deplorable. But you’re missing my point, which is that there are equally a lot of really quite pleasant and reasonable women, who want their daughters to enjoy their rightful shares of the opportunities which life has to offer, but who at the same time don’t think that men are to blame for everything.

G H
G H
4 years ago

Sorry to are trying way to hard and looking for a problem to fit your solution. The first sentence said it all. Treat your kids equally, guide them lightly and let them find their own way. Their personalities will shine through. Impose your ideology on them and they will be damaged.

David George
David George
4 years ago

As someone else said, teaching your kid to loath their own perfectly normal feelings . is a form of abuse.
What sort of young man would be the result, one that women want or one that’s a caricature of his mothers pathological fantasy of what he should be. Sick.

Tristan Pelser
Tristan Pelser
4 years ago

Why is this on unHerd? I’d just like to point out that the “journal article” (Sex Roles) quoted in this ridiculous piece of feminist rubbish is, in fact, one of the 20 fake/hoax articles published by James A. Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian, in order to point out the absurdity of progressive thinking in so-called “grievence studies”.

This is not journalism. If the author had done even a scrap of research, she’d have noted that her primary source of ‘scientific evidence’ was a hoax paper deliberately written to bring into light how saturated the social sciences have become with this utter rubbish.

You can read more here: https://www.nytimes.com/201

Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Tristan Pelser

Tristan, that is not true, is it? While the journal Sex Roles printed a hoax article, the article this author refers to, written by Matthew D. Hammond and Andrei Cimpian, is not one of those 20 hoax articles, is it?

Liscarkat
Liscarkat
4 years ago

I do not believe that women are intellectually or emotionally inferior. I also do not believe that they are delicate, nurturing angels who need my protection. I do all of the housework, yardwork, carwork, etc. Yet I’m certain any worthy feminist would find fault with my interactions with my wife and women in general. You just can’t win.

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago

If Sarah Dittum wants to fight benevolent sexism, maybe she should fight against its biggest manifestation: equality of outcome vs equality of opportunity.

The idea that women are automatically victims if they don’t receive the same rewards as men in every situation has now become a mainstay of feminist ideology.

Take, for example, the fight by the US Women’s soccer team, which just lost a court case which sought to gain compensation for the women’s team, which is paid differently than the men’s.

Problem is, they signed an agreement to be paid on a different basis from the men, thinking it would lead to better pay. When it didn’t, suddenly they were victims. The judge threw their case out because a deal’s a deal.

I would point out that demanding that you always do at least as well as men ( but never visa versa – think of men’s enrolment at uni) is treating women as if they were incapable of making it on their own. Benevolent sexism at its worst.

Or consider the push to have a certain percentage of females on the Boards of major corporations. Men struggle for years to obtain such positions. Awarding them to women because of gender is…. Benevolent sexism.

Strangely, feminists never seem to reject preferential treatment based on gender when it suits them. Nor are they self-conscious enough to question this double standard.

Over to you Sarah.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

smart points

Jane Mac
Jane Mac
4 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

John Jones, I completely agree. I am a woman and considered myself a feminist in 70s and 80s when we did agitate for equal pay and the right to shag folk without being called a ‘slag’. I think we’ve got what we want now, but the woman-as-victim/vulnerable narrative, espoused by newer ‘feminists’ is taking any notion of equality back decades! Part of that narrative is affirmative action -based on the drive for equality of outcome – and is absolutely offensive and misguided. If I felt that I was given a hand up for promotion or whatever and therefore wasn’t competing on equal terms with male colleagues and friends, I’d tell my boss to shove it up their arse. Old feminists like me are delighted to see equal opportunity – I was discouraged to do physics at school, for example (I fought to do it anyway and was only girl in the class) whereas my daughter is absolutely encouraged into STEM. But lots of us are horrified at how vulnerable and in need of protection from marauding, over sexed men the new feminists portray women. So, in essence just expressing my agreement with you!

Jane Mac
Jane Mac
4 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

I completely agree, John Jones. As a feminist in the 80s, we did fight for equal pay and opportunities and for softer cultural rights like being able to sh*g who you wanted without being called a ‘sl*g’. I think society achieved that equality for women BUT there is now a new form of feminism based on two tenets: 1. women are victims/vulnerable and in need of protection from men and 2. Due to the patriarchy they need affirmative action to level the playing field. Both of these claims are absolute nonsense. If I thought I was given a hand up in a promotion competition with my male colleagues, I would tell my boss where to stick it! This new feminism is taking equality back decades. Ordinary women don’t support affirmative action (like all-women short lists in the UK labour party) and are sensible enough to want the best person for the job (what an old fashioned idea!). Women are doing better than men on many measures, so the so-called patriarchy cant be that bad! Being the wrong kind of feminist is difficult in today’s identity-politics obsessed polite society, but I continue to say what I think. My husband takes the bins out too and I like that. I usually make our dinner. Are we benevolent sexists or just kind to each other? Those bins are pretty heavy…..

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago

I have never heard such unadulterated, psuedo-scientific crap in all my born days (and I’ve had a lot of them). I sure hope you had your husbands supper ready, before you wrote this bilge.

Al Jahom
Al Jahom
4 years ago

OMG change the damn record, if you can do that without a man to help you.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago

If Unherd is going to start publishing this kind of misandrist claptrap, then I’m going to stop reading it.

Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
4 years ago

“Benevolent sexism says, no need for women to worry about equal pay, because their husbands should be looking after them.”

I have had relationships with women where they have told me once they have children they either want to leave work entirely for a few years or only work part time and they expect their partner to financially support them in such scenarios. It is very rare that you see a middle class university educated woman with a decent career marry someone who earns less. In most cases these women want to marry someone at the very least on the same economic rung but more often higher. I will take lectures from feminists on ‘benevolent sexism’ once middle class women refrain from viewing men as ‘success objects.’ Or maybe it’s all very understandable from both a biological and social viewpoint why many women after the toll of childbirth and the bio-chemical urge to raise their own children might want a financially successful male as a partner. 4th wave Feminists don’t represent any where near a majority of women yet have undue influence to push their agendas across various media platforms where they are dominant.

Jenny Griffyn
Jenny Griffyn
4 years ago

Thank you Sarah, that is a great article. Based on my own experience I think many females, even feminists, hold on to benevolent sexism as well. I certainly know that despite practicing self examination on a regular basis I still struggle with various unconscious bias and -isms. I hope that boys and men who perceive the article as being an attack on men will try to read it again from a less defensive perspective. I think it could be argued that while many men certainly benefit from the patriarchal structures that are embedded in our institutions and culture, the vast majority are being victims of it themselves. From this perspective it is easier to be a woman because we are not belittled if we declare ourselves victims. Ironically, in that sense patriarchy affords a type of “privilege” to women that men simply don’t have when it comes to escaping and denouncing it.

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  Jenny Griffyn

Yet another example of unconscious sexism: if men react against sexism from feminists, they are depicted as “defensive”. On the other hand, females who write articles like this one are portrayed as valiant fighters for equality.

Neither men nor women are “victims” of “the patriarchy”. The so-called “patriarchy” is another feminist myth, like the pay gap or the “gendered” nature of domestic violence. Men who are beginning to call out the new sexism are not “defensive”; they are just getting beyond sick and tired of the victim narrative from privileged women.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago
Reply to  Jenny Griffyn

Jenny,

Could you elucidate how this patriarchy works?

When I look at society most men seem to be worse off than most women. Homelessness, work related deaths, education, working hours, doing the harsher work, shorter life, conscription, harsher sentences for the same crime & situation, virtually no rights to the kids in a divorce, and very few men have any sexual power while most young women have lots. And I could go on.

Why would this magical patriarchy, if it exists, take so badly care of its brothers?

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Jenny Griffyn

I’m sorry but it’s not a great article -it’s a really poor article -poorly researched, poorly evidenced and encouraging of emotionally neglectful and abusive parenting practises. I see nothing about it to condone or encourage.

Its premise is pretty unpleasant -essentially questioning the motivation of benign behaviours and concluding (because it’s written by a radicalised feminist) that surprise surprise, it’s all sexist and bad.

It’s 1984 on steroids; Love = Hate (benevolence = malevolence).

Attempting to argue as you do in response -and really your reply is a form of piecemeal appeasement -that actually the whole world is so complicatedly ‘sexist’ that -‘even feminists’- haven’t yet woken up to this new understanding of benignity is not going to cut it as a defence.

It’s just an insidious way of re couching the same inherently unkind falsehood -in the context of this article we might call it a ‘sly feminism’ on your part.

I find it interesting that in spite of the emancipating and empowering claims of your ideology you are seemingly so subjugated by it; ‘practising self-examination’ and ‘struggling with unconscious bias and -isms’.

This does not sound very freeing at all -in my opinion.

Robert Pay
Robert Pay
4 years ago

All things considered, it was a dispiriting experience, and many parents have simply declared themselves defeated upon experiencing the same wreck of their ideals against the stubborn will of a small child…WHY?? Because it didn’t align to what you wanted? Doubtless your son will disappoint by becoming a soldier or an engineer…

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
4 years ago

Same old
Same old
Feminism great, masculinity bad
Women great, men bad
Why then do all women love a b*****d?
Oh right nice is boring

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
4 years ago

What drivel! The consistent assertion being the whole world is inherently sexist and this only affects one group – women and girls.

The rubbish about her daughter choosing dolls and son choosing gadgets/sports is suggested to be a phase and consequence of the two flavours of dreaded sexism. What rubbish. This notion was completely debunked by Dr Kim Wallen with a wide study of primates where the female primates usually choose dolls and the male primates choose gadgets. This is the consistent finding of all other derivative research. Nordic countries which have for at least two decades employed all efforts to make choice of career to women and the women there have spoken by choosing traditional professions such as nursing and teaching in far greater numbers than before. The gap in participation in STEM fields has widened not narrowed.

The confluence of your “Rubbish pseudo-science” probably copied from a Neo-Marxist SJW Femanazi CULT journal with sexism is astounding. There is no reasonable interconnection with the two flavours of sexism you go on to explain.

About the sexism. Gender roles developed over thousands of years to support the progression of society. I truly fear for your son. How does he ever get to win. If he is kind and empathetic asking to help you your response, just like the response you gave the man at the end of your talk, is to humiliate and denigrate that enthusiasm and reduce it to “do what you are told”.

What an abusive dynamic. I certainly don’t treat my 8 year old daughter with this distain. If she wants to help with my male problems she is given that opportunity to help where she feels she can make the most contribution. Or should I stop this?

The Femanazi agenda of the author is about power. Teaching men to give her and her SJW CULT more power and accept that the true role of men in this society is to do the “dirty work” that they are too good for. That is why she told that man to do more house work. Would she have told his girlfriend or wife to make sure she does all the dangerous work, work the longer hours and sacrifice family time as the majority of men do in this society? No of course not.

The power grab here will not result have this author or her CULT in the next war see any of these very, very special CULT people on the front lines, she will happily send her son but not her daughter though. Because the men are so disposable to them. That is why good women have abandoned Feminism. They see through your bullshit and see that it is just a power grab and not a seeking of equality for all humans in a reasonable manner.

steve taylor
steve taylor
4 years ago

Considering women to be intellectually inferior, over-emotional or
physically feeble all come under the heading of hostile sexism.

Otherwise known as realism.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  steve taylor

Steve – it’s comments like this, that convince authors like this, that articles like this, need to be written. Please don’t, and spare us all!

andy thompson
andy thompson
4 years ago

Load of tosh. Gave up after about two minutes – decided it’d be more interesting to check between my legs to check what I actually am!

Damien Pitt
Damien Pitt
4 years ago


.

Last edited 9 months ago by Damien Pitt
Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Damien Pitt

‘Telling’?

How, exactly? -you don’t say.

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  Damien Pitt

No. Your question is just another form of ad hominem deflection.

The question is not the gender of the respondent, but the cogency of the argument. The only rational defense is to point out where the responses are wrong, not implications of sexism.

Clay Bertram
Clay Bertram
4 years ago

Blank.

Dirk Diggler
Dirk Diggler
4 years ago

The examples of benevolent sexism sound a lot like a red-faced, patronising, old boor, who would be gesticulating with their glass of port, and probably snort-laughing at some witticism about Nigella Lawsons muffins.
Other men find them as irritating as women do – by all means puncture their balloon.

I wouldn`t let that turn into mocking the notion that there is a responsibility on men to protect or help others. That`s a useful societal pressure that combats men usually being less empathetic. Some are going to take it to an embarrassing extreme, but we`d be worse off without it.

jessica.m.oneill
jessica.m.oneill
4 years ago

The level of outrage provoked in men by this article seems to suggest a nail has been hit on its head.
There seems to be an interesting and common strand to most of these negative comments: attack the writer but be careful to do it with the pretence of intellectual criticism.
The comments section here is no different to regular social media when it comes to women writing about sexism: full of sexist comments, written by men who didn’t read the article objectively but rather pictured their own wives, mothers, sisters, former partners, and of course unrequited loves.
There’s something very unsophisticated and emotional about these types of responses. A lack of intellectual rigour evident in lack of close reading, shoddy attempts at counter argument, and of course, the seething anger in the language.

Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith
4 years ago

Jessica, you’re proving the point of some of these men. You attack them without addressing their points of refutation of the author. Take John Jones for example, who clearly read the article and is very articulate. Does he not make great points? If not, which do you disagree with, and why? Let’s talk substance here. I will not belittle you because you are a woman. Please do not belittle me, or other men here, just because we are male.

Mark Kerridge
Mark Kerridge
4 years ago

Ad hominem attack on those criticising the article.. Go to the back of the class..

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago

Do you have any specific points to support your allegations… you know, evidence?

Or is your argument simply a pastiche of complaints, accusations and ad hominem attacks unsupported by facts?

In other words, is your “rebuttal” simply an overly- emotional attempt to defend a bad argument by depicting your opponents as bad people because they dared to reveal the weaknesses in the article, offending your feminist sensibilities?

Because that is what men always face when critiquing the cogency of feminist rhetoric- emotional, self-pitying, sexist responses attacking men for having the temerity to question the sacred dogma of feminist ideology.

Because if you had an actual argument, you could have pointed out exactly where there was “a lack of rigor… shoddy attempts at counter argument…and seething anger” instead of unsubstantiated accusation.

Over to you, Jessica.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

already above

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

I was reflecting on how many people, in response to the article, clearly attempted to think and engage with the issues raised by the piece.

Yes, the views expressed by many may bear traces of outrage; the article intentionally incites outrage, but nonetheless the vast majority of responses are cogent, cool headed, and thoughtful and they raise useful and serious issues for further thought.

By contrast you offer up only a half-arsed, dismissive sort of ‘contempt’ for these thinkers and their thoughts. You rather lazily try to round them all up into one group – an old tactic to make it easier to dismiss all your detractors as one collective group of ‘sexists’ – you attempt to trash their responses without clearly having read any of them properly; you cite no direct evidence for any of your criticisms but instead resort at one stage to your own insipid fantasies about their personal relationships with women -something you can know absolutely nothing about, but that in your omniscience you feel free to pass blithe judgment upon.

You don’t even provide any supporting evidence for what you liked so much about the article in the first place, or what you thought was good about it. That could have been both interesting and thought provoking.

You also manage to denigrate reasoned emotional intelligence, as well as the righteousness of anger -the which, believe it or not, can actually be a good thing in a man (and woman) -especially when it acts to subject such unnappetising ‘ideas’ as were on offer in this article to the heat of critical examination.

I’m afraid your response is proof, were any proof needed, that some feminists are so blinkered by the authoritarianism of the dogma which governs their every thought that they can no longer engage in anything that could be classed as thinking.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

So if we agree with the author that would be evidence that she has “hit the nail on the head”.

But if we disagree that is evidence she has “hit the nail on the head” too.

I think, perhaps, you have just hit your head on a nail.

Also, if you have young children you’ll know that they love hearing the same story over and over again. Adults, not so much.

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Exactly right.

Apparently the very fact that you disagree with the article “proves” it is correct, regardless of the argument you make, which can be dismissed because you’re wrong.

And how does she “know” you’re wrong?

Because you disagreed.

What a beautiful example of the logical fallacy of tautological reasoning.