Both genders favour a dominant role for men

November 13th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) Both men and women participate equally in maintaining a gender hierarchy, or a dominant role for the male.
People tend to think that only men treat women in a sexist way, but a new study shows that both of them participate in maintaining the status quo.

The two most significant findings are that both men and women respond in a more hostile way to a woman who violates sex-role expectations, than to one who adheres to them.

Secondly, the more an individual supports social hierarchy in general (that some people should have more power and resources than others), the more hostile they respond towards a woman who violates sex-role expectations.

“We were surprised by the lack of difference in the role of social hierarchy support in hostile sexism between men and women,” said study co-author Blaine Fowers, professor of educational and psychological studies at the University of Miami (UM).

Although sexism has been discussed as an issue of social hierarchy for decades, few researchers have directly tested the role that social hierarchy plays in sexism.

Some of the motivation for supporting the gender hierarchy is the belief that social hierarchy is important in general, explained Alyssa Fowers, study co-author and a first year student at Duke University. She is also Blaine Fower’s daughter.

“It’s important for women to understand that judgement hurts everyone and that sexist judgement hurts women in particular,” said Alyssa.

The study also indicates that women show a strong preference for benevolent sexism (BS) - portraying women as relatively weak, placing them on a pedestal of purity and suggesting they need protection and guidance, over hostile sexism (HS), the derogatory portrayals of women.

The study was published recently by Sex Roles.

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