Benevolently Sexist or Chivalrous? Whichever, More Please!

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I have missed you and am so excited to get back to writing you!

Let me preface by saying I know for some; this post might stir up big emotions. My intention is to offer you a wider lens with which to view some well-meaning men that live by a set of traditional masculine morals. I won’t be focusing on what I believe to be the exceptions; men that pay for dates expecting sex in return or those that offer to carry heavy grocery bags implying we are too weak to do it ourselves.

I’m speaking of gentlemen. Yes, I know, they actually exist! The well-educated men that respect women’s professional drive and accomplishments but simultaneously feel good about taking the initiative of asking a woman out on a proper date, paying for most and making sure she is safe by walking on the traffic side of the street.

I can hear some of you thinking “great Irene but what the hell is benevolent sexism?” I’m glad you asked because I had never heard of the term before last night, but felt inspired to learn more. It refers to a theoretical framework developed by social psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske which reinforces traditional gender roles signaling women need to be protected by men.

One study posted on Journals.sagepub.com published by Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker explains that even though previous research proposes benevolent sexism as an ideology that sustains gender inequality; some very much support it, as it has also been linked to greater life satisfaction. Besides these findings Connelly is against it as it presumes “women are wonderful but weak.”

Although the second- wave feminism movements overarching goal was to achieve gender equality, it confused the hell out of many men that value more traditional behaviors. Gentlemen in the baby-boomer generation knew how women expected to be treated. They had a more courteous approach towards women. Men wanted to lead and believed it was their role to provide a certain type of security; financial and physical towards women they loved. Today roles are undefined both men and women aren’t sure how to act, what to say and what is actually desired by the other.

I had such an interesting coaching session last week with a charming Gen-X male entrepreneur whose topic of conversation sparked my curiosity and moved me to dive a little deeper on this subject. He said he was raised to believe it was common courtesy to open doors for women and pay for dates but sometimes felt torn to act with integrity as he didn’t want to be viewed as a sexist ass.

As a result of this conversation, what really sparked my interest was, what do women, especially devoted feminists feel about men that express some old school courting?

A study of 782 women in 5 experiments conducted by Pelin Gul a post-doctoral research fellow in the Dept of Psychology at Iowa State University found that women were more attracted to benevolently sexist men than their counterparts, despite knowing these men were more likely to be patronizing and controlling.

The findings show women interpret men who confidently go after what they want and cherish women as signs of a partner that will commit, protect and provide. The reality is, women want men who make them feel physically, emotionally and financially safe, period. This is the case no matter how professionally successful they are.

Drinking the Kool Aid of women don’t need men and we can have and do it all on our own came with the cost of believing we should be doing everything on our own. This led to a whole lot of high-achieving but lonely women.

There has never been a time in history where women had more pressure or expectations on their shoulders. We’re juggling building businesses, managing employees and doing whatever it takes to keep up with the ridiculous cultural beauty expectations while simultaneously taking on twice as much on child care and housework. How much more fulfilling would our lives be if we released some of our control and allowed these men to take the lead and do more for us?

Wishing you a wonderful rest of your day!

P.S. I would love to be connected with you on Instagram and see what you too are up to.

You can find me @Irene.abbou

XOXO,

Irène Abbou

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