Kindness Is Not Sexism, So Get Over It
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Lately I have been sent a link from multiple people regarding a study that was done in Boston (figures, it had to be my home town…). The results of the study suggest that there are two types of ‘sexism,’ which are, of course, only put forth by men.
Before we go any further, let’s consult the dictionary for the definition of sexism:
1. Attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of gender roles.
2. Discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex or gender, as in restricted job opportunities, especially such discrimination directed against women.
3. Ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against or hatred of women; misogyny.
Please keep this in mind as you continue reading.
Now, let’s get to the point (?) of the study in question (Titled: Why chivalry may not always be what it seems: Men who hold doors open and smile may actually be sexist, study claims) The study separates the two types of sexism as “hostile” and “benevolent.” Since nobody can deny there is of course hostile sexism in the world, just like there is hostile racism, nationalism, and the like, I will focus on the benevolent sexism because that is where kind men are being shamed by their actions towards women, when their intentions are good.
One of the traits of a ‘benevolent sexist’ is that he holds doors open for women. Here is an excerpt regarding this type of behavior:
“US researchers argue that while women may enjoy being showered with attention, benevolent sexism is ‘insidious’ and men who are guilty of it see women as incompetent beings who require their ‘cherished protection’.
Professor Judith Hall, of Northeastern University in Boston, said: ‘Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women.
‘These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing and harmless.’
Men who are guilty of benevolent sexism see women as ‘warm and pure, yet helpless and incompetent beings’.
Study co-author Jin Goh said: ‘Benevolent sexist men hold women in high regard and are willing to sacrifice themselves to save and protect women.
However, benevolent sexist men perceive women as the weaker gender at the same time.”
Look out, you guys! We see women as pure, hold them in high regard, and are willing to sacrifice ourselves to save and protect them. If this doesn’t sound like the manifestation of evil in a man’s body, I don’t know what is…
*Insert eye-roll here*
Other “warning signs” (more sarcasm) of benevolent sexism? We refuse to split a bill, offer a woman our jacket when they are cold, and call women ‘love’ or ‘dear.’
Well, not that I make a habit of calling women love or dear, but I know just as many women who use that terminology as I do men…so, are they benevolent sexists, too?
Before we go any further, let’s refer back to the original definition of sexism, shall we? You may recall it includes words such as discrimination, devaluation, and hatred of women. So far, I see precisely zero grounds to support any of these claims in the examples given for benevolent sexism…perhaps, sexism isn’t the right word to use here.
Articles and studies such as this are chewing away at the moral fiber of men. We are literally being told that acts of kindness towards women are bad, and that just because a woman is physically able of doing something herself, means that if we offer to help it is devaluing her, or showing a hatred against her.
I’m sorry, I just can’t with this.
Do you know why I offer my jacket to my girlfriend when she is cold? Because I weigh twice as much as she does and I have more insulation than she does, and she is shivering when I am not. Do you know why I hold the door open for her? Because I was taught it was good manners and I hold the door open for everyone. Do you know why I want to protect her? Because I love and care about her.
Now, can someone please tell me how a line can be drawn between devaluation and hatred of women, and the acts of kindness and generosity the study claims to be warning signs of it? There is no man I have ever spoken to who has told me he holds doors open for women because he doesn’t think she is physically capable of doing it herself. That, would just be ridiculous. [Most] men are not that stupid.
I wonder, though…if the professor who conducted the study was faced with a large, heavy door that she was unable to open because she was not physically strong enough – if a large weightlifting man opened it for her so she could walk through, what kind of sexism would that be?
We have a big problem with men who beat women. Domestic violence. Emotional abuse. Toxic relationships. We have real problems put forth by men who are actually evil, and there are funds being put into studies trying to defend the idea that performing acts of kindness towards women is a sign of hatred towards her? Talk about a profound misuse of human energy.
This is exactly why chivalry is dying. It is why manners are so rare. It is why people are no longer connecting on deeper, emotional levels. Men are terrified of doing what they were taught kindhearted people do, because someone is going to be offended by it and lash out.
By vilifying this kind behavior, we are strangling the morality of society. We are telling our fellow humans not to watch out for each other, not to protect each other, not to be polite to each other. Well, unless they happen to be the same sex as you, because then it would be okay (maybe).
It is absolutely true that a woman can do all of these things by herself – but I will never stop fighting for the idea that a good man will always be there to help her, anyway.
If you want to read the drivel that inspired this article, you can check it out here.
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