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Topsy-turvy world...

My husband opens the car door for me, offers his jacket to me when I am cold and always lets me go through a door before him.

He does these things because he has good manners, or at least that is what I think! But now it seems all this chivalry is in actual fact being branded as benevolent sexism!

So if you are the sort of gentleman who holds the door open for a lady - or the sort of woman (like myself) who expects him to then ... be warned.

But let us, before going any further, take a look at the definition of sexism in the Oxford Dictionary:

"Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex: sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women."

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, says 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," she claims.

Working with a male colleague, Professor Hall paired 27 men with women they had never met before and gave them a quiz game to play and time to chat afterwards.

The men, aged 18 to 22, filled in a survey designed to detect sexist attitudes.

Examples of hostile sexism included agreeing that women tend to exaggerate problems at work, while someone who is benevolently sexist will believe women should be rescued before men from a sinking ship.

They found men whose answers led to them being classed as benevolently sexist smiled more while playing the quiz game and chatting.

They were more patient while waiting for their female partners to answer the trivia questions and warmer, friendlier and chattier than those who were hostile sexists.

Writing in the journal Sex Roles, the researchers said while such behaviour may be well-intentioned, this did not mean it was not harmful.

The study claims that men who are guilty of benevolent sexism see women as 'warm and pure, yet helpless and incompetent beings.'

Benevolent sexist men hold women in high regard and are willing to sacrifice themselves to save and protect women, according to the study's co-author Jin Goh.

Can anyone please tell me how this is so? How can an act of chivalry be classed as sexist?

I doubt that if I ask men who hold open doors for us women, why they do it, they would say oh because the door is too heavy for you!

Experts say this type of sexism is harder to spot than the 'hostile sexism' we are more familiar with, because it often masquerades as gallantry.

It is typified by paternal and protective behaviour, from encouraging smiles to holding doors open.

Really? Ridiculous claims from studies and researches such as these are killing good mannered, courteous, and polite individuals. Men will be too afraid to hold open doors, or lend us their jackets because they will be seen as sexist ... therefore politically incorrect!

Oh dear, and we wonder why chivalry is dying!

Ideally, it would be great if the gesture had nothing to do with gender at all. If it were just something that human beings did for each other regardless of gender.

However, since we are talking about a study...here it is...

To all men reading this please take note; women like to be treated as women...yes we love our independence in life and in love, but deep down, we want men to treat us like ladies.

So open doors, offer us your jackets when it is cold, get the car when it is raining... whatever gesture it may be... honestly we will not think of you as sexist!

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 16, 2015
Words:681
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