Research Paper

Sexism has been around for many years and is known to affect mostly women. Sexism is viewed as discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex. The concept of sexism involves a theory known as ambivalent sexism. This theory distinguishes between two of its subtypes known as hostile and benevolent sexism. Researchers suggest that this theory is considered a truism that traditional attitudes about women’s roles go hand in hand with hostility toward women. However, Glick and Fiske (1997) argue its misleading because traditional attitudes are associated with highly positive as well as highly negative evaluations of women.

Benevolent sexism is defined as a set of interrelated attitudes toward women that are sexist in terms of viewing women stereotypically and in restricted roles but that are subjectively positive in feeling tone and also tend to elicit behaviors typically categorized as prosocial or intimacy-seeking (Glick & Fiske, 1996). Hostile sexism is defined as the belief that men are more competent than women and thus are deserving of higher status and more power (Becker & Wright, 2011). Many people tend to have different definitions regarding the types of sexism.

The way researchers examine the construct of sexism varies from study to study. Many factors such as operational definitions, methodology, and results play a role in the differences or similarities that research studies on sexism discuss. ?For starters, Glick and Fiske (1996) argue that sexism is a special case of prejudice marked by ambivalence, rather than a uniform antipathy toward women like Allport had suggested. The importance of this article was to differentiate the conception of ambivalent sexism with other theories of ambivalence as well as provide a measure of it.

Glick and Fiske suggest that sexism and paternalism are often used synonymously. Their methodology consists of six studies used to develop and validate the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. The ASI used in this study consisted of 140 statements in which respondents were to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed. Hostile sexism was measured by statements such as “a wife should not be significantly more successful in her career than her husband”. While benevolent sexism was measured by statements such as “every woman should have a man to whom she can turn for help in times of trouble”.

The results of these six studies provide strong evidential support for the theory of ambivalent sexism. In contrast, Hebl, King, and others (2007), looked at hostile and benevolent reactions toward women that were pregnant. They state that as the epitome of the traditional female role, pregnant women ought, according to ambivalent sexist theory, to be recipients of benevolently sexist feelings and behavior. According to researchers, pregnant women are viewed as needing assistance, therefore receive more help on common adult tasks and are “taken care of” more.

The purpose of this study was to understand the conditions in where pregnant women encounter hostile and benevolent reactions. In order to do so, they propose that pregnant women will experience different forms of sexism depending on their roles. They suggest that ambivalent sexism theory explains that men’s greater structural power brings hostility toward women who challenge their status quo. On the other hand, men also patronize benevolence toward women who have traditional roles such as a housewife.

This study dealt with investigating behavior toward pregnant and nonpregnant women playing the roles of either a job applicant or store customer. Confederates wore a pregnancy prosthesis and played either one of those roles. The results showed that employees showed more hostility toward pregnant applicants and more benevolent attitudes toward pregnant customers. ?In addition, Valor-Segura and others (2011) state that the existence of domestic violence is closely linked to several ideological factors such as sexism.

The purpose of this study was to analyze the influence of ideological beliefs of the perceiver and characteristics of the situation on judgments such as blaming the victim and exonerating the perpetrator. The authors link sexism to domestic violence by stating that thousands of women and girls in the world are victims of some kind of violence mainly because they are women. Their definition of sexism differentiates in that they suggest it is the belief that women should be dominated and forced to submission, and also limited to certain roles.

They combine hostile sexism and benevolent sexism to operationally define sexism itself. The study itself tested how participants would perceive the domestic violence situation that was described to them and whether or not they would blame the woman for it. The ASI was taken into account in this study to measure the participants level of sexism. Results showed that participants blamed the victim and exonerated the perpetrator more when there was no cause of aggression mentioned. Similarly, Forbes and others (2005) use sexism as a factor to study perceptions of dating violence.

The purpose of the study was to investigate the perceptions of violence based on the gender of the participant, type of betrayal, and the gender of the betrayed individual. Participants were to rate a vignette where the person betrayed slapped their partner and caused them to bleed. This article contrasted from the previous article mentioned in that they focused more on the type of betrayal that caused the violent act to take place and whether or not individuals perceived it as justifiable. The sex of the betrayed person or participant did not play a role in these results. Similarly, Overall and others (2011) also discuss sexism by associating it with relationships between individuals. The purpose of Overall and others’ study was to test whether men’s or women’s hostile sexism and benevolent sexism were associated with resistance to influence in couple’s conflict interactions. Couples were observed while trying to produce desired changes in each other. Similarly, they state that ambivalent sexism theory suggests that men depend on women for intimacy, support, and reproduction.

Therefore men have more direct access to status and resources. Similar to other articles, they state that greater endorsement of hostile sexism is associated with more accepting attitudes toward wife abuse. While most studies consisted of participants reading over vignettes that consisted of a specific scenario, this study focused on the relationships of couples that were involved for at least a year. They were asked to complete questionnaires like most research studies as well. In addition, Chen, Fiske, and Lee (2009) discuss ambivalent sexism in marriage.

While this study discusses sexism as well, they associate it with power-related, gender-role beliefs about the selection of mates and marriage norms. This article discusses the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory that Glick and Fiske developed in order to measure hostile and benevolent sexism. In order to measure the construct, they use other factors such as gender differences, cultural differences, and the differences between benevolent and hostile sexism. Other than using the ASI, they also used the power-related Gender-Role Ideology in Marriage questionnaire.

The results demonstrated that different cultures such as Chinese culture have males endorse hostile sexism while women accept benevolent sexism. Similarly, another article focused on the gender-based structural power and how they produce ambivalent gender ideologies (Lee, Fiske,Glick, & Chen, 2010). This article states that sexism and close relationships do not intersect and that relationships are suffused with love and caring, not sexism. The purpose of this study is to confront the assumption by demonstrating how sexism affects not only relationships but cultural ideals about the perfect mate as well.

While most articles discuss sexism towards women, these researchers describe how men also face reflected hostility. In addition, researchers suggest that men holding benevolent sexist views also hold favorable attitudes toward traditional women (Good & Sanchez, 2009). The study examined whether men with traditional views of women caused them to have more benevolent sexist views. The results demonstrated that men’s benevolent sexist views were associated with greater relationship motivation and investment in romantic ideals.

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