24 Jun 2011

ARE YOU A VICTIM OF BENEVOLENT SEXISM?

Are you a woman who does not object when a man opens a door for you? 

Are you a woman who would thank a man for offering to carry your heavy bags? 


Answer yes to either of the above and you are guilty of encouraging benevolent sexism.


Are you a man who opens doors for women OR are you a man who has ever offered to carry a women's heavy bags?

Then, even though you think it may be the gentlemanly thing to do, you are in fact also guilty of benevolent sexism ........

At least according to the study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly (POWQ).

It's not your fault though, well, not entirely your fault anyway.

No, it seems this all goes back to Sir Walter Raleigh who it is claimed laid down his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Victoria did not get her feet wet. The chivalrous thing to do, right?




Wronnngggg. For whilst few people would have doubted which of these two wielded the real power, all those who have followed Raleigh's example over the centuries are merely reinforcing a culture of inequality and injustice, a culture where of women are seen as the vulnerable sex unable to cope without the help of a man.


But it could be worse. How, I hear you ask


Well, you could be a 'modern sexist' or a 'neosexist' who are men who say or do things knowing they might cause offence as opposed to the type of man who opens doors for women/offers to carry heavy bags - something, as POWQ are quick to point out, which women could be guilty of encouraging.


So shoot me, guilty as charge I don't object to having a man open a door for me, it doesn't make me feel vulnerable or unequal AND it certainly does not make me feel as if an injustice has been done BUT then what do I know?


Inspired by THIS ARTICLE written by Andy Bloxham for The Telegraph (15/06/2011)


Hmm, it's been some hours since I saved this post ready for publication and I've been thinking - for some reason Husband dearest always worries when I utter these three words, I can't think why. The POWQ would no doubt accuse him of benevolent sexism, me being the stupid little woman that I am - whoops, is that me encouraging him?


With regard to the giving up of seats, as a child I was always encouraged to stand and give my seat to an adult when travelling on public transport. The reason? My legs were younger than theirs and they were more in need of the seat.
Does this mean that a man on offering his seat see us women as more needy or is he just being polite? Not that his reason really matters ...... or does it? Hmm, I wonder.



23 comments:

NRIGirl said...

Petty! If you will please allow me to use your own words to answer on my behalf:

...I don't object to having a man open a door for me, it doesn't make me feel vulnerable or unequal AND it certainly does not make me feel as if an injustice has been done...

NRIGirl said...

One more thing Petty... I have a puzzle for you to solve on my blog. Pl check it out. I am sure you can figure out most answers...

Misha said...

Woa! I have never thought about this.
Honestly, I don't mind a man carrying my bags or opening a door for me. It doesn't seem sexist to me.

Bad Alice said...

I will open the door for whoever is behind me, and for anyone who looks overburdened. I think it's rude for someone, man or woman, to just let a door slam in my face. I don't object to a man (generally my husband) opening the car door for me if I'm a passenger. I doubt Raleigh put his cloak on the ground because he thought Victoria was weak. More likely he was showing his subservience to her.

Chatty Crone said...

I love someone to open doors and carry things for me. We teach my GS to do the same!

Vivienne said...

I put my hands up to being extremely guilty of this. I love that a man opens a door for me and carries my shopping!

Patti said...

They talked about this on the radio the other week and one girl called in and said that she doesn't mind it as long as a man doesn't object when a woman holds the door for them. Interesting.

chitra said...

I would be too happy if some one offers to carry my bags especially when they are heavy. But nobody does. If they do offer to carry I will be v.much pleased as I have spondylits problem ;)

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

loved this post!
i am an old fashioned girl! (ok woman),
obviously i'd love if someone offers to carry my shopping or opens a door for me.

have a great weekend!

big big hugs!
betty xx

Kelly said...

Well, I guess my husband is guilty, I've taught my son to be guilty and I encouraged others to be guilty. I just consider it common courtesy. I agree with your giving up your seat on the bus example, too. Respect your elders!

awitchtrying said...

I don't like when man always opens a door for me. I can't say why. I like opening doors for others and having them opened for me when convenient. Who got to the door first? As far as carrying things, I think I'd ask for help if needed. That's how it should be, regardless of gender. I've helped men carry heavy things too!

Tomz said...

Hi Petty Witter,

very informative post..and thanks for adding one more phrase to my vocabulary, benevolent sexism..

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Let me put it this way... I am intelligent and strong enough to know when someone is actually being sexist and degrading with me. Opening doors and carrying things for me is NOT a part of that. I consider that courtesy (and btw, I don't expect it either). Someone thinking of someone else besides themselves. Doesn't sound degrading in the least. Give me some credit! I know the difference!

Good discussion. :)

djskrimiblog said...

Ha, I am all in favour of men opening doors for me - the more the better - and if they look at me as if they do it because I am a gorgeous creature, all the better :D

But I am sure the explanation is that I was a rather plain teenager rather than my upbringing (my mother let me climb trees and catch sticklebacks so I am sure the boys had no idea there was a girl behind all the dirt).

Katie Edwards said...

I'd rather someone was benevolently sexist than indiscriminately malevolent!

Alexia561 said...

Interesting post! I thought that holding a door open was common courtesy? I always thank whoever held the door for me, and have held open my share as well, for both genders. And I no longer say no if someone offers to help me carry something heavy. Again, thought that was common courtesy?

You made me laugh with your "I've been thinking" comment, as those three words strike fear into my DH's heart too! *L*

kavita said...

I don't mind it either :)

Monalisa said...

That was a beautiful post.

Ha! I would never allow a man (provided he's a stranger) to carry my baggage for me. Oh its not the fear of sexism, but jut that i won't wish to lose my baggage. I live in India buddy !

This thing is a very common practice here, offering baggage for feeble women. But i would always hire a trolley or someone worthy of trust. And yes, when i allow them at all, i would thank them. That, with faith and sincerity.

naida said...

Nice post Petty. I actually like having doors held open for me and I dont mind a man helping me carry bags or whatever if they are simply too heavy. Its helpful, not sexist.

Kate said...

Great post. Although I am proud to be a independent and strong woman, I will never (EVER) object to a man offering to carry my things or open a door. I'm all about it. :)

animewookie said...

My husband is terribly guilty of this behavior, and it's one of the reasons I married him...lol Great post!

Jenners said...

The thing is that I hold doors open for men and women (and I'm a woman). I think it is more a matter of being polite rather than sexist!

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the Queen in the image is Elizabeth I, Queen of England (r.1558-1603), not Queen Victoria who did not come to the throne until the early 1800s. The story is that Sir Walter Ralegh (yes, this is how he spelled his name, without an "i") placed his cloak over a puddle to prevent Elizabeth from getting her feet wet. This probably never happened. The significance of this apocryphal tale, however, is that displays of ritualized courtly etiquette and spectacle were considered means of demonstrating how to gain the Queen's attention and, hopefully, her favor. Elizabethan male courtiers did not rise in the court or government without the Queen's favor and/or permission. To confuse this with contemporary sexism is inane and extremely anachronistic.