Adroit isn’t good enough for men. White knights try, and I’m learning how they fail. Men seeking to accommodate women, no matter what, had better be prepared for a life of constant correction, regardless how well they have mastered their knightly routines. Women will be glad to lay trip wires to correct missteps. Not to be out knighted, male researchers have studied sexism and found new and creative ways to cast blame on men even for the most well intentioned actions. These men cannot settle comfortably into comportment with women. They NEED to be behaving badly, so they can highlight progress in their rehabilitation.
We all know about the risk a man takes if he holds a door for the wrong women, never mind if that man would hold the door for anyone, man or women, if he catches her on a day when she has something to prove (think every day) he will suffer her ire. Seeing that, researchers Peter Glick and Susan Fiske studied the evil nature of being helpful to women and published a paper back in the mid 1990’s about how on one hand we have hostile sexism, which we all are familiar with, but on the other hand a lesser known and more insidious form of sexism exists.
I missed these land mark studies when they were published, but:
Peter Glick is in the news again. He was recently interviewed on Fox about his theory of sexism being in two distinct parts, hostile and benevolent. In 1996, he and Susan Fiske released a research study titled, The Ambivalent Sexism Theory, Differentiating Hostile and Benevolent Sexism. Somehow Glick has managed to bring this theory back onto the news cycle. Take a look at the video.
I watched this expecting to be mildly annoyed at seeing another man efface himself for the women watching, and another reporter fake empathy with the situation being described. Instead of those one off reactions, it took only a minute to flag something truly amazing, proving folks can say anything so long as they are careful to frame it to produce the right feelings.
He tells us that being helpful to women is benevolent sexism. He tries to help us guys by talking about the types of help that would be deemed by women to be sexism free. The one that jumped out was, paraphrased, “help that is designed to progress her to no longer need the help” is appropriate help. But when asked to clarify it he said the best way to describe this is to imagine how we teach our children. OK.
He is requested to offer an example then, so he tells how he was attempting to set up a wireless printer at home, and was struggling with software and firewalls etc. Night fell and in frustration he gave up saying he would do it the next day. His wife stated her intentions to take over and get the printer working. He reacted skeptically, telling her not to bother she would only frustrate herself in the process. Of course two hours later superwomen climbed in bed telling him the printer was functioning.
His analysis of the situation was to say that he had assumed (or she perceived that he assumed), because she is a women she couldn’t do it, if he, the man, couldn’t do it. It was morning when I listened to this interview, so I was slow but it did finally occur to me how flawed that thinking is. What if his doubt stemmed from real information about them as individuals regardless of gender? For example, what if he is simply more PC proficient? Maybe he was trained in basic PC and peripherals set up and has years of experience doing such things. And perhaps she, having little interest in such things, tended to focus on use and not installation. Why can his assumption be about his wife, the PERSON he knows? Why must it be assumed to be about gender? Would he consider his remarks to her about the lower likelihood of her completing the task if the task was, say, changing the valve cover gaskets on the car? Yes, I am stereotyping, shoot me. But when we cannot be honest and prefer to filter and pander, what benefit does this bring to us as people, to relationships, even to society?
This sent me looking for more information about this so called benevolent sexism. Surprisingly I found that at least Glick realizes that his neologism-benevolent sexism- is an oxymoron because he denies that its an oxymoron in the research linked above. At least he is aware how others read his inanity.
This combination of hostile sexism and benevolent sexism is a perfect control mechanism for women to add to their kit. As bookends to men’s behavior one finds the width of the shelf to be as small as she wants it to be at a given moment. Some days she may allow wide operating space for the man, realizing his intentions are good because they are based on the underlying truth that men wish to please women. Then, imagine a wrong behavior that men don’t even know they are doing. She has to slide the bookends in and out to make sure he is always butting up against either hostile or benevolent sexism.
Ive written about CONTROL, and the fact that women, drawing upon the general unsettled nature of their thoughts are compulsively controlling. They seek this elusive state of safeness, without which a man can expect no cooperation from her, no respect, and gasp! no sex. White knights and women are constructing a sort of Hunger Games ring in which men’s lives are managed and men compete for the resources that they need from women , even the women they love, trust, and have committed to for life. The resources in the best case are cooperation, peace, respect, and sex. In the worst case it means competing against her easy alternative of divorce.
To do so most men adopt the white knight posture. They subscribe to the Women are Wonderful illusion.This reduces his operating space even further. The bookends of hostile and benevolent sexism are augmented with the ceiling of women’s moral superiority, boxing men in with the X and Y axis of 2 dimensional behavior. This is the life of the secular dating or married male.
The third dimension comes into play however she wants it to, because the tool is the bible and her personal Jesus. She ends up with men as sexist…..if she says so, men as less moral, generally, and finally men as lower on the rungs of spirituality.
Poor things, they just cannot find a good man.