Friday, July 1, 2011

Gender 101: Benevolent Sexism?

By Connie Chastain*

Okay, how did this slip past me? I admit I've been somewhat preoccupied of late but that is not sufficient explanation for how this phenomenon completely escaped my notice until now. I must be slipping.

The phenomenon I'm talking about "benevolent sexism."

I recently came across an article about it on Huffington Post (not my usual reading fare) while I was Googling for something else. I read it with one eyebrow lifted.

Seems there was this study at a university in Germany. Men and women wrote down daily instances of sexism they observed or encountered over a period of time. In addition to the expected complaints (unwanted sexual attention and blatantly sexist jokes) there were "subtler actions... men calling women 'girls, ' complimenting them on stereotypically feminine behavior and sheltering them from more 'masculine' tasks."

Of course, there's not a word of complaint reported about women calling men "boys" and complimenting them on stereotypically masculine behavior and ridiculing them for doing more "feminine" tasks (frequently better than some women do them) -- all of which are quite common. Which just shows, once again, the double standard wielded by folks with a feminist mentality. But I digress...

The article goes on to say, "If a man offers to help a female coworker set up an office computer ... and she accepts, she is perceived as warm, but lacking a level of competence. If she politely refuses, however, she is often viewed as a 'bitch.' Men who accept help are also seen as vulnerable ... but they do not suffer the same repercussions for trying to do things on their own."

Percieved by whom? Viewed by whom? Seen by whom? Is anybody really surprised that the great, amorphus perceiver/viewer/seer is not identifed? Presumably, they were the participants of the study, but isn't this basically subjective? Unless we are the viewer, how do we know she "politely refused"? Maybe she's perceived as a bitch because she snapped and snarled and basically acted like one. Not all women are polite and not all study participants are objective.

And who the frick cares, anyway? If I get my computer set up (or I'm able to help a guy set his up) what does it matter what somebody perceives and views and sees (especially if they're an always-complaining feminist)? When I was a girl, and somebody tried to manipulate my mama with "What would people think?" her standard response was, "Go jump in a lake." I think some of that rubbed of on me.

Apparently in the split-brain feminist mentality, there are two kinds of men -- the scuzzball sexists who abuse and rape women and who've craftily built up this entire rape-culture to keep women in their place, and the scuzzball sexists who open doors for women, carry their groceries and pay them compliments to figuratively bind and gag them and set them up on some pedestal. For ordinary folks who perceive the world realistically, this kind of thinking is just ... unfathomable.

I've since found numerous references to benevolent sexism in Google searches, and frankly, based on what I've learned about it, if I was a man, I'd quit doing any of this polite, decent stuff for women. Because you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Which reminds me of one of my absolute favorite Jewish mother jokes... Jewish mother buys her son two ties for his birthday, a red one and a green one. He goes upstairs, puts on the red one, goes back downstairs and his mother says, "What, you didn't like the green one?"

The difference is, the joke is cute and funny; the reality of everything's-wrong feminism is neither cute nor funny. It's designed to tear down society and replace it with something nobody's going to like. Not even feminists.

Now, having worked myself into this teeth-grinding state, I will calm myself by noting that Google indicates nobody much is writing about "benevolent feminism." Does anybody really wonder why?

*Connie is an FRS contributor. Her personal blog is