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Literature & Language
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English (U.S.)
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The Negative Effect of Benevolent Sexism (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

I was asked to choose one social issue and settled on benevolent sexism. the thesis had to be stated in the introduction followed by topical sentences in the subsequent paragraphs. the following formed part of my thesis. there is a common belief among some scholars that benevolent sexism has negative effects. As women become more empowered in modern society, it is imperative to learn more about this concept. Therefore, this research paper investigates the following hypothesis: benevolent sexism is harmful to women despite appearing to promote a positive attitude.

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Content:

The Negative Effect of Benevolent Sexism

Sex and Gender Issues: Dangers of Benevolent Sexism
Women do not need anyone to defend them but someone to demand equal opportunities and recognition. Benevolent sexism is a concept that has attracted scholars’ attention in the last few decades. In simple terms, benevolent sexism means the tendency to view and treat women as requiring men’s assistance and protection. People who knowingly or unknowingly practice benevolent sexism show positive attitudes toward women and can go to an extent to protect them. From a social perspective, the action of protecting women seems commendable. However, there is a common belief among some scholars that benevolent sexism has negative effects. As women become more empowered in modern society, it is imperative to learn more about this concept. Therefore, this research paper investigates the following hypothesis: benevolent sexism is harmful to women despite appearing to promote a positive attitude.
Benevolent Sexism and Women’s Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Benevolent sexism accounts for low self-esteem and self-confidence levels among women. At first, benevolent sexism seems acceptable because it involves men defending women and cherishing them. However, this notion has significant effects that often manifest subtly. Once women are treated as fragile and incompetent, they show decreased levels of self-confidence. In some cases, the situation worsens to psychological issues. According to Fedi and Rollero (2019), benevolent sexism lowers a woman’s self-esteem and self-confidence and often culminates in stigma. Sadly, addressing benevolent sexism, which differs from hostile sexism, proves somewhat difficult because “it is endorsed by both genders” (Mastari et al., 2019, p.3). Due to the prevalence of such notions, women who try to prove themselves capable of accomplishing exceptional results find it hard to affirm their autonomy. Therefore, society needs to realize that contrary to the idea that benevolent sexism is a form of protection for women, it denies them the opportunity to display their confidence and self-esteem instead.
Benevolent Sexism and Inequalities
Benevolent sexism is also responsible for the exacerbation of gender inequalities in society. As explained, men who practice this form of sexism perceive women as weak and fragile. Such attitudes compel men to intervene in defending women. In fact, one study shows that men do not suffer from the bystander effect when helping a woman in public (Leone et al., 2020). Although it is important to assist anyone in trouble, the perception that a woman is naturally fragile or weak and needs male intervention reinforces inequalities. Mastari et al. (2019) explain that inequalities stem from the promotion of traditional beliefs that elevate patriarchal ideologies and see women as beautiful but weak creatures. In other words, men’s tendency to protect or cherish women emanates from the deeply entrenched traditions of seeing women as inferior and subordinate. Sadly, these misconceptions manifest even in the workplace. According to Fed and Rollero (2017), women struggle to attain top leadership positions partly due to the notions of inferiority perpetuated by men and accepted by the broader society. These findings show that benevolent sexism is not as harmless as many people perceive it and that it affirms gender inequalities.
The inequalities occur in almost all areas of society. For example, women find themselves being asked to undertake duties that are socially seen as theirs, particularly child-bearing. This problem affects women from nearly all cultures, including those from developed and seemingly civilized countries. Huang et al. (2017) find that women are encouraged to embrace motherhood and see it as a form of achievement, yet this culture denies mothers the opportunity to discover their other potential. Besides in the family setup, inequalities against women occur in the workplace. Fedi and Rollero (2017) report that most employers do not consider female managers as capable of delivering the same results as their male peers. Once discriminated against at home and in the workplace, women endure more effects of benevolent sexism in terms of the income gap. Due to the notion that women are weak, female employees in lower and higher managerial positions do not earn the same salary as male peers despite having the same qualifications and experiences (Connor & Fiske, 2019). Apparently, benevolent sexism might seem harmless because it involves helping women, but it only affirms the negative social constructs toward women, thus leading to inequalities.
Benevolent Sexism and Reinforcement of Gender Roles
Another problem revealed by current literature is that benevolent sexism reinforces gender roles. Society is predicated on the belief that women should undertake some duties while men ought to perform others. While there is nothing wrong with ensuring social order, notions of gender roles always work to women’s detriment. For example, the belief that only men can help women’s perceived fragility encourages the notion that men are superior. In fact, recent studies show that benevolent sexism is a strong mechanism for maintaining gender hierarchy (Kende & Shnabel, 2017). Likewise, sexist attitudes that demean women increase dependency on one gender, thus reinforcing socially assigned roles. Shnabel et al. (2017) find that benevolent sexism puts women in a position of relying more on men for everything about their lives than discovering their capabilities and pursuing their aspirations. However, it is imperative to realize that men are not necessarily the cause of this problem. Besides showing that the general society, including women themselves, approves of benevolent sexism, Mastari et al. (2019) add that parents contribute to this menace by treating their male children harshly while handling their female children gently. Such different parenting approaches might seem harmless, but they only reinforce the notion that one gender is weak and needs help.

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