The oppressive nature of chivalry

It’s not bad to say a woman is pretty, or to help her open a door, is it? It can be, when it is benevolent sexism.

A recent paper by Julia Becker and Stephen Wright details even more of the insidious ways that benevolent sexism might be harmful for both women and social activism. In a series of experiments, women were exposed to statements that either illustrated hostile sexism (e.g. “Women are too easily offended”) or benevolent sexism (e.g. “Women have a way of caring that men are not capable of in the same way.”) The results are quite discouraging; when the women read statements illustrating benevolent sexism, they were less willing to engage in anti-sexist collective action, such as signing a petition, participating in a rally, or generally “acting against sexism.” Not only that, but this effect was partially mediated by the fact that women who were exposed to benevolent sexism were more likely to think that there are many advantages to being a woman and were also more likely to engage in system justification, a process by which people justify the status quo and believe that there are no longer problems facing disadvantaged groups (such as women) in modern day society. Furthermore, women who were exposed to hostile sexism actually displayed the opposite effect – they were more likely to intend to engage in collective action, and more willing to fight against sexism in their everyday lives.

Ah. So if we really wanted to twist those words around, the assholes are actually doing women a favor, by motivating them to fight harder for their self-interest. Good for you, guys!

Comments

  1. says

    That benevolent sexism is strong in the neo-pagan community, which is one of the things that helped drive me away from the whole goddess worship thing.

  2. billgascoyne says

    I’m probably going to get flamed for this, but here goes: I’m hearing that treating a woman “like a lady” is bad because it keeps her oppressed. This sounds to me strangely similar to the “conservative” argument in favor of dismantling or restricting access to the social safety net because it oppresses the poor by keeping them dependent. I’ve also been subjected to the argument that men who do not treat ladies properly are, let’s see, what was the term? Oh, yeah: assholes. For the record, I open doors for my wife, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Does anyone else find the sentiment of this post a bit conflicted or confusing?

  3. doublereed says

    Isn’t this just saying that people will be more likely to defend a system if they perceive that it benefits them?

    That’s pretty much why we try to point out that sexism is BS for both men and women all the time. I mean judging by our own actions, it seems like that this is something we’ve already assumed.

  4. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    billgascoyne – If you would indulge me, define what treating a woman “like a lady” means (to you that is), and why being treated “like a lady” should be any different than they way one treats men?

  5. dianne says

    @billgascoyne: “Benevolent” sexism is not all about opening (or not opening) doors for women. Personally, I open the door for anyone who looks like they might benefit from it, but if you want to restrict your willingness to help to women, whatever.

    But benevolent sexism is more than that. It’s about telling women how special and wonderful they are…yet in ways that these “special” qualities mean that women’s roles are more restricted. For example, saying that women are more intuitive and socially intelligent…and therefore wouldn’t be expected to do well in the “cold” “linear” world of science. Or that women are better at understanding small children…and therefore must be the ones who take care of small children. (Or, in a related but slightly more sophisticated form, therefore are the ones who will usually want to take care of small children…and therefore there is no problem if it is women who give up or delay their careers to take care of their small children 99% of the time. It’s not sexism, just “natural”.)

  6. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    It can be difficult to find a good way to respond to benevolent sexism, especially at the workplace and when perpetuated by other women (as is currently my experience). It’s not enough to make you go and give anyone hell, but it can slowly poison your every interaction.
    As someone who has only started working a couple of months ago, it puts me in a really awkward position when my male colleagues who work there longer are told that I’m going to supervise and they are going to carry stuff because a lady can’t be expected to do physical work. Yeah, nice intentions, but they make me look like a useless asshole.
    Trying to make the office look nice? That’s a great way to welcome a new colleague, thanks! Don’t comment about how it can’t look like a pigsty now that a woman works there, or how all it’s missing now is a plate with cookies. Is that a hint? Am I expected to bake and keep the place in order? I mean, that’s how this looks.

    Benevolent sexism almost always seems to come with expectations for women.
    Benevolent sexist says that a man’s brain can’t handle multitasking, but a woman’s can… and there’s the expectations that you as a woman are going to be more productive and able to handle things that are not expected from your male colleague. So thanks for the “compliment” but no thanks.

    And it goes on and on. It’s nothing big, nothing that will make you rage about sexism, but it’s enough to show you that you are different. That sometimes makes you stand out, and not in a good way. If I’m at a meeting with 10 men and a woman, I don’t need to be made feel “special” by men standing up and pulling out our chairs. It sets us apart and puts us in a different position from the men right from the beginning. It may not be apparent, but we start as the other and it’s not a stretch to see how it can continue in all the interactions and the way our work or opinions are valued.

  7. says

    Reading this blog has trained me to regard “women are” and “men are” statements with immediate suspicion, which I’m really happy about. Thanks PZ. :)

    @billgascoyne: Nope. Not confused at all.
    How is treating a woman “like a lady” similar to helping the poor by having a social safety net?

  8. billgascoyne says

    Oh, let’s see: a touch of deference, as in opening doors. A bit less profanity in speech. I perceive that women’s standards of cleanliness are a bit higher than men’s. Heavy lifting when appropriate. Paying for dates. I do not find imagining how this “should be any different than they way one treats men” to be especially difficult. I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    Please indulge me in turn and define what “benevolent sexism” means to you and how it differs from my description of “treating a woman like a lady”. In short, it seems to me that men and women are in fact different, they think differently, and that oppression and recognition of gender differences are not the same, although they can be confused one with the other (as found in Islam).

  9. harrisonsalzman says

    I doubt that I succeed, but I try to treat men and women both nicely – hold doors for everyone, compliment appearance whether male or female, etc.

    Hopefully that doesn’t have the same effects as “benevolent sexism” when it’s applied universally.

  10. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    There is nothing about my gender that makes me incapable of opening the door for myself, thank you very much.

  11. shouldbeworking says

    To me, treating a woman as a lady means no sexist or demeaning comments about her appearance, marital status, age, sexual oreintation, or attire.

  12. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    So you admit that you do these things because you think women somehow and for some reason need all this deference, kid glove treatment. Everything you just listed relies on the belief that women are weak, delicate creatures that need men to protect them or “defer” to them. This is benevolent sexism.

    It’s not that you hate women, or even dislike women. It’s that you think we’re less than, weak, delicate, demur – but very clean! – shrieking violets.

    To me, this is only slightly better than being an outright bigot.

    In short, it seems to me that men and women are in fact different, they think differently, and that oppression and recognition of gender differences are not the same, although they can be confused one with the other (as found in Islam).

    This is all just straight up sexism.

  13. billgascoyne says

    @dianne: Thank you. Your description is much clearer than anything in the actual post.

    @Beatrice (looking for a happy thought):

    Benevolent sexism almost always seems to come with expectations for women.

    That’s an even better summary. And one more thought, social settings and the workplace are indeed two very different environments with somewhat different standards. Expectations in the workplace should be tied to the job title and not the gender in any way, shape, or form.

  14. thumper1990 says

    @billgascoyne

    The point is that you shouldn’t be doing those things simply because she’s a woman. Be nice to people, sure. Hold doors. Lift things they can’t lift. But don’t just assume that because she is a woman she needs your help. Would you not find that fucking insulting if someone did it to you?

    An example I tend to find helps when trying to explain this: If you see a woman carrying something and she is struggling, offer to help. This is being polite and I would hope that you would do it for anyone, male or female (ditto holding doors). However, do not automatically offer to take the load whenever you see a woman carrying anything. This is insulting because you are assuming that she cannot manage simply because she is a woman.

    The key difference is whether she actually needs your help, or whether you are simply assuming she does because of her sex.

  15. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    We are in disagreement.

    Definitely. Because I treat women like adults.

  16. says

    @Beatrice #10 – If I open a door and notice someone walking reasonable close behind me, I’ll hold it open for them, regardless of their gender. I also give up my seat if I see someone who would have trouble standing, such as they are elderly or are mobile only because of a cane or crutches.

    I agree that “benevolent sexism” is insidious, but we should not lose sight of basic courtesy, either.

  17. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I agree that “benevolent sexism” is insidious, but we should not lose sight of basic courtesy, either.

    As Thumper points out in #16, these are two separate things. There’s basic courtesy, and there’s thinking women are delicate precious darlings who faint at the sound of a naughty word or a dirty sock.

  18. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I’m not a lady at work. I’m not a lady before or after work either.

  19. billgascoyne says

    And now that I’ve started this little melee, I also notice that no one seems to have gotten past the first sentence of my original comment. My second sentence, and the more important one IMHO, was:

    This sounds to me strangely similar to the “conservative” argument in favor of dismantling or restricting access to the social safety net because it oppresses the poor by keeping them dependent.

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net? I doubt too many people here would qualify as self-described conservatives, yet I find the logic behind the two arguments to be similar. How am I wrong?

  20. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Gregory in Seattle,

    Do you have a problem with my #10? As I said, there is nothing about my gender that makes me incapable of holding the door for myself. There was nothing there about letting the door close into somebody’s face because you’re not allowed to hold the door for anyone ever.

    I hold the door for people too. And it has nothing to do with their gender. It has to do with someone juggling a couple of bags or holding kids or riffling through their bag in search of keys or whatever. I sometimes even hold the door for men *shock horror*.

    But thanks for reading me as saying that I’m against basic courtesy. Wtf?

  21. A. Noyd says

    billgascoyne (#2)

    I’m probably going to get flamed for this, but here goes

    So determine why that might be and shore up your opinions with some evidenced arguments that anticipate our objections instead of just bleating out whatever’s in your head.

    I’m hearing that treating a woman “like a lady” is bad because it keeps her oppressed. This sounds to me strangely similar to the “conservative” argument in favor of dismantling or restricting access to the social safety net because it oppresses the poor by keeping them dependent.

    They’re not actually alike because chivalry perpetuates an inequality whereas social services are one part of a solution in remedying inequality. Chivalry works on the assumption that women are weak, silly creatures in need of a man’s protection and guidance—immutable qualities women cannot escape because they’re built into being a woman. Social services work on the assumption that humans are equal and thus there is a baseline of care we need to provide to those in our communities who may, for various reasons, not have the resources or capabilities to fully care for themselves. But their lack is understood not to be immutable; rather, the expectation is they’ll reach a place of being better able to care for themselves. The conservative “argument” is really the assumption that those relying on others become too comfortable and that they need harsh incentive to look after themselves. However, this is not borne out by reality. If we wish to diminish dependence on social services, rather than assuming that dependence is a character flaw, we need to remedy the actual source: dismantle the systemic inequalities that create dependency, such as reducing discrimination in hiring practices and reforming the justice system at all levels.

    But while humans have baseline needs for food, housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities, which is what social services provide, women do not have a baseline need to be treated as inferiors, which is what chivalry provides. Rather, the opposite. Moreover, chivalry, being a form of discrimination, reinforces the lower status of women by taking our inferiority for granted. It’s a “solution” that is merely a different arm of the problem: sexism. But constant exposure to chivalry can inure us to discrimination because it’s presented benevolently and—cognitive biases being what they are—we have a harder time seeing through it. Thus, because when we properly control for those biases we can see there is harm in chivalry, we should seek a corrective to those biases to better fight sexism and reduce harm to ourselves.

    I’ve also been subjected to the argument that men who do not treat ladies properly are, let’s see, what was the term? Oh, yeah: assholes.

    What does “properly” mean? Women being people, there is no one-size-fits-all way to treat us except as “humans who are equal to men.”

    For the record, I open doors for my wife, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Your wife does not speak for all women. Why are you acting as if she does?

    Does anyone else find the sentiment of this post a bit conflicted or confusing?

    No. See above.

  22. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net? . . . .yet I find the logic behind the two arguments to be similar. How am I wrong?

    To be honest, I think you’re reaching for a correlation that just doesn’t exist. How is not wanting to be treated like a simpering fool who can’t met her own basic needs, in any way like wanting to make poor people starve?

  23. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net? I doubt too many people here would qualify as self-described conservatives, yet I find the logic behind the two arguments to be similar. How am I wrong?

    Having to show you are wrong is the wrong logic. You are wrong until you evidence yourself right. Your OPINION is irrelevant.

  24. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    100% cosigned A. Noyd. Excellent post at #24.

    But while humans have baseline needs for food, housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities, which is what social services provide, women do not have a baseline need to be treated as inferiors, which is what chivalry provides. Rather, the opposite. Moreover, chivalry, being a form of discrimination, reinforces the lower status of women by taking our inferiority for granted. It’s a “solution” that is merely a different arm of the problem: sexism.

    QFT. Bang on.

  25. Ze Madmax says

    billgascoyne @ #22

    How am I wrong?

    For starters, the article PZ linked provided evidence that benevolent sexism is detrimental insofar as it makes people less likely to volunteer for causes that explicitly fight sexism. The argument that social safety nets are detrimental because they make people dependent on the safety net doesn’t have the same support (i.e., removing a social safety net does not lead to better economic outcomes for people who rely on it).

    Another issue is that you are equating benevolent sexism to social safety nets when those are not equal constructs. Indeed, while benevolent sexism actively maintains power inequalities, social safety nets tend to reduce them by preventing people to fall into complete destitution because of random life circumstances (e.g., unemployment, death in the family, etc.)

  26. billgascoyne says

    You are wrong until you evidence yourself right.

    Guilty until proven innocent? OK, “uncle.” I have work to do. ‘Bye!

  27. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Guilty until proven innocent?

    No, science in action. No evidence to support your claims, your claims are dismissed. Only a religious type would keep claiming “prove me wrong”, which is how the religious argue.

  28. rrede says

    @billgascoyne:

    It’s always the doors. I don’t know why it always comes down to doors, but I’ve heard this line umpteen billion times in the last four or so decades.

    *sighs*

    OK: here’s the thing. You open the door for your wife, and she’s all happy with that, great.

    BUT if the only other women you open doors for on a regular basis are those who are conventionally attractive/young enough/dressed in a feminine enough fashion/to count as being perceived as sexually available to heterosexual men, and you ignore everybody else (especially us old fat queer dykey butch women), then I’m going to side eye you hard, and think, meh, sexist behavior. Pls. note I said IF. Just mentioning your wife in the context of “how to treat all women” is meaningless–it’s too close to “but but I’m married so…” and perhaps “my wife can stand in for all women.” Also note that as old fat queer butch woman, I smile and thank anybody who opens a door for me (to hear off the urban legend of evil killer feminists who shriek and claw men who dare to open doors for them), and I also open doors for people coming behind me, especially at post office with piles of packages. Any age, any gender, etc.

    But I do not see my opening doors as in any way comparable to the social network of support which in rural Texas is mostly lacking.

    On your claim that social and work attitudes can be distinct: nah, not so much, not if there’s any validity to this study that men in traditional marriages tend to behave in discriminatory ways toward women in work:

    http://www.econjobrumors.com/topic/men-in-traditional-marriages-are-sexist-in-the-workplace

    We found that employed husbands in traditional marriages, compared to those in modern marriages, tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) find organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotion.

  29. frog says

    Addressing Billgascoyne:

    Oh, let’s see: a touch of deference, as in opening doors.

    –>Why do women need your deference? Why not just hold doors for people who have some trouble with them? While the population of such people might weight toward female more than male, it is ALWAYS

    A bit less profanity in speech. I perceive that women’s standards of cleanliness are a bit higher than men’s. Heavy lifting when appropriate. Paying for dates. I do not find imagining how this “should be any different than they way one treats men” to be especially difficult. I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    Please indulge me in turn and define what “benevolent sexism” means to you and how it differs from my description of “treating a woman like a lady”. In short, it seems to me that men and women are in fact different, they think differently, and that oppression and recognition of gender differences are not the same, although they can be confused one with the other (as found in Islam).

  30. frog says

    Frigging thing posted before I was even a tiny bit into the post. Please ignore my @32. Gonna try again now.

  31. mythbri says

    @billgascoyne #8

    Oh, let’s see: a touch of deference, as in opening doors. A bit less profanity in speech. I perceive that women’s standards of cleanliness are a bit higher than men’s. Heavy lifting when appropriate. Paying for dates. I do not find imagining how this “should be any different than they way one treats men” to be especially difficult. I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    Emphasis mine. Why do you think that your male friends would be insulted if you treated them like you treat women, billgascoyne? Is it because they perceive that the “special” way that women are treated in general is demeaning? Seriously, unpack that statement you made, because I think that you’re answering your own question.

    billgascoyne #22

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net?

    Are you saying that women somehow need benevolent sexism in order to survive?

    Am I going to be unable to buy food for myself if my boyfriend (or any man) doesn’t open the door for me?

    No.

    Am I going to be unable to obtain healthcare if my boyfriend (or any man) swears in front of me?

    No.

    Am I going to be unable to find meaningful employment if my boyfriend (or any man) doesn’t snatch all of my grocery bags out of my hands on the way to my car?

    No.

    Am I going to have a hard time being taken seriously when I voice concerns when I’m perceived as being “easily offended”?

    Yes.

    Am I going to be in conflict with my boyfriend about him doing his fair share of housekeeping because I’m perceived as having “higher standards of cleanliness”?

    Yes.

    Am I going to be in conflict with my parents and society in general for choosing not to have children because women are perceived to be “better” at childbearing and childcare?

    YES. You bet. All my life.

  32. glodson says

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net? I doubt too many people here would qualify as self-described conservatives, yet I find the logic behind the two arguments to be similar. How am I wrong?

    Easy. Benevolent sexism, as noted above, is about assigning women qualities that both stereotypes and serve to be reasons to undermine a woman’s agency. Worse, as noted in the original post, the evidence shows that these “positive” traits serve to silence women. They are less likely to speak out against sexism.

    When we act “chivalrous,” we infantilize women. We say that the women need our help because they are women, somehow lesser. This doesn’t mean, as noted by others, that we need act discourteous. I don’t cuss around women I don’t know until I get a feel for how they react to such words. I don’t want those women to feel uncomfortable around me. And I extend the same courtesy to men I don’t know. I try to help men and women, I try to be fair. I try not to be sexist. I fail, I have some ideas that have been hammered into my head since birth. Just like everyone else.

    Holding the door open for people is nice. Doing so only for women is sexist. It is a thoughtless sexism drummed into our heads based on the idea that women are demur and need our help.

    Now let’s talk about safety nets. And here’s why the two don’t connect. The above is about rejecting the notion that women are somehow lesser and we have to help them by not cussing or doing little stupid things for them. It is about trying to get to a point of equality. The dismantling of social safety nets is about ignoring inequality. It is about ignoring privilege. It is about letting people suffer.

    These two have no connection.

  33. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Guilty until proven innocent? OK, “uncle.” I have work to do. ‘Bye!

    Thanks for that sexism booster shot and conveniently sudden exit.

  34. twist says

    suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    So you accept that to treat your male friends as though they were incapable of opening doors, incapable of paying for their own meals and likely to faint at a naughty word would be considered derogatory to them, but the women you subject to this treatment are meant to be grateful? And you’re not a sexist? Wow.

    Chivarly can seem rather nice on the surface but think about what it implies. That I can’t open a door for myself because I’m what? Too weak? Too stupid? I can’t pay for my own meals because money management and finance and all that stuff goes right over my pretty head? Or maybe because I don’t have an income at all? That you mustn’t swear in front of me because I’m innocent and virginal and might be so scandalised that my fluffy pink brain might explode?

    How is it not derogatory to treat anyone like that?

    Opening doors because someone is close behind you, or carrying a heavy package for someone with thair arm in plaster, or paying for a friends dinner because it’s a nice thing to do occasionally? All polite things to do, for someone of any gender. Assuming that women must be treated that way while men would find it derogatory is sexism.

  35. crocodoc says

    1) Continue treating women as nice as you can*

    2) Don’t expect that they will develop an unquenchable desire for you

    3) Try being nice to men as well

    * I think there’s a fine line here: Expressing your surprise that a women can be smart/strong/independent and beautiful at the same time is not being nice. Stating that she simply is smart/strong/independent and beautiful at the same time, if you feel so, is OK. The difference is saying those are different categories, why not mention them both vs. saying that beauty and brains are somehow mutually exclusive.

  36. mythbri says

    @crocodoc #38

    Stating that she simply is smart/strong/independent and beautiful at the same time, if you feel so, is OK.

    This, as with most things, is context-dependent. It’s not always appropriate to say things like this to anyone at anytime.

  37. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Since “you’re smart and beautiful” usually comes with jaw dropping – OMG I can’t believe this is possible- surprise, I’m not terribly impressed.

  38. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I guess I’m a little naïve. I genuinely don’t understand how Billgascoyne could type the sentence: “I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.” and NOT see the clear and obvious sexism contained therein.

    Seriously, dude. You just admitted that men would be insulted to be treated they way he treats women and doesn’t see the sexism?

  39. says

    How do guys who argue this not know the difference between ‘here, I’ll get the door because your hands are full or because I like doing things for you/a friendly gesture’, versus ‘I’ll get the door because you are a delicate flower who cannot possibly do anything for yourself’?

    It’s not even the door, at that point. It’s the freighted expectations for what women are good for. One of these styles of opening doors is helpful/friendly. One of them is condescending and tends to come with things like “I’ll order because you can’t make decisions for yourself.”

  40. glodson says

    I guess I’m a little naïve. I genuinely don’t understand how Billgascoyne could type the sentence: “I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.” and NOT see the clear and obvious sexism contained therein.

    I seem to remember seeing a study about how people often don’t see their own prejudice. I am not finding it though. But it seems that it is easy to have a massive blindspot in evaluating one’s own biases.

  41. Big Boppa says

    As others have said above, I open doors for anyone who happens to be following me through the opening. Nearly everyone is fine with that, most say thank you. Once, I did encounter a young woman who called me an asshole when I held a door for her. I figured that if a small act of common courtesy offended her so much she deserved her miserable existence.

    This thread reminded me of something I’d forgotten from my days of early parenthood. My daughter was about 8 and my son not quite 2. We had taken them downtown (Chicago) to see the christmas decorations and were on our way back home after a tiring day. When we got on the subway all the seats were taken so we settled along the aisle as best we could for the ride home. I was holding my sleeping son and struggling a bit with staying upright while the train bounced along. After a few minutes, a tough looking hispanic man tapped the young woman sitting next to him, motioning for her to stand up with one hand and alternately pointing at me and the newly vacated seats with the other. We sat and thanked them as best we could. They got off about 4 stops later and as they did, he turned and nodded in my direction with a slight smile. It’s a nice memory.

  42. frog says

    Seems pointless to post this now, but I took the time to write it, so dammit, here it is.

    Addressing billgascoyne:

    Oh, let’s see: a touch of deference, as in opening doors.

    –>Why do women need your deference? Are not most of them capable of opening their own doors? Are not some men incapable (at least at a moment) of opening a door? I certainly hold doors for men who are, for instance, trying to juggle large packages or pushing a stroller. The judgment should be on whether a person appears to need assistance. Assuming that possession of ladybits makes a person need assistance is belittling, as others have noted.

    I will also note that it is ALWAYS required that one not drop a door in someone’s face, regardless of who that person is. That’s called “courtesy” and it is properly applied to ALL people.

    A bit less profanity in speech.

    –>Why? Do you think she’s never heard the word “fuck” used as an exclamation of frustration before? What if she herself has a mouth like a sailor? What if you’re dealing with a man who doesn’t swear—don’t you think that might be because he’s uncomfortable with such words?

    Again: are you being courteous, or are you assuming things about a person’s brain and personality based solely on their genitalia?

    I perceive that women’s standards of cleanliness are a bit higher than men’s.

    –>Let us assume that your perception is statistically correct. Is this so because (a) possession of ovaries makes a person intrinsically repelled by dirt and thus desire to eliminate it, or (b) because our society has this belief and so when a woman is sloppy, she is belittled and berated for it, but a man is excused because he’s just a man and can’t be expected to maintain a high standard?

    Heavy lifting when appropriate.

    –>”When appropriate” is key, here. A small man might need assistance getting something onto a high shelf. My sister, at 5’10” and naturally strong, will never need someone’s help with heavy lifting until she is old. And she would be very insulted if you implied that she did.

    Paying for dates.

    –>This is one of those interesting points where the culture is changing. Funny how it changes most easily on the thing that is most inconvenient for men.

    That said, yeah, this is something that couples need to work out. I’m of the opinion that at the beginning of a relationship, whomever does the asking ought to pay for the date. That is more likely to be the man. But since this person also determines the nature of the date (fancy dinner and a pricey concert? Or light lunch and a walk in the park?), they have some control over what they’re spending.

    Some men like to pay because it makes them feel manly, without being any comment on the woman’s perceived ability to foot her own bills. Again, this strikes me as something a couple ought to have a brief discussion on. A man should never feel bad saying, “I’m sure you can pay for yourself; it just makes me feel gentlemanly to pay,” so long as this is never later followed by “BUT I PAID FOR YOUR MEAL YOU OWE ME” in any form.

    I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    –>And this doesn’t immediately set off a bell in your head that maybe women feel it’s a somewhat derogatory? If it was so great, wouldn’t your male friends want this, too?

    In short, it seems to me

    –>Protip: “It seems to me” is shorthand for “I am about to talk out of my ass.” People’s perceptions are notoriously faulty, and often inaccurate when it comes to determining the cause of things they perceive.

    that men and women are in fact different, they think differently,

    –>Here is where you need to stop talking out of your ass, and instead cite credible studies showing that your perception is fact. “Credible” means “peer reviewed and following proper scientific methodology.” Which means, for instance, that they take into account whether a particular difference is caused by societal pressure rather than because of the presence of ovaries.

    Remarkably, there are a great many studies demonstrating that when you remove or minimize the social factors, lo and behold women and girls are significantly capable of all the same things men and boys are “perceived” to be good at.

  43. says

    I’m probably going to get flamed for this, but

    Whenever I read this phrase or something analogous, I automatically lose respect for the person writing/speaking and think of all the previous times when I’ve read that phrase, or something similar, and had it followed by complete and utter nonsense that did nothing but waste everybody’s time. Has there EVER been a time when someone preemptively complained about flaming, when the content of their post was NOT eminently flame-worthy? Not in my experience.

    Sadly, this was no exception. Thanks for reinforcing my perception that only clueless, cowardly, intellectually lazy assholes ever preemptively whine about how unpopular their opinion is going to be, billgascoyne. Yes, you are going to get flamed for your tripe, and there’s a reason: it’s nothing but poorly-reasoned bullshit. Stop spewing crap and you won’t get flamed. Easy-peasy.

  44. says

    that men and women are in fact different, they think differently,

    At the moment, scientists have only the most rudimentary understanding of how humans think, PERIOD. Yet people have been asserting that men and women think differently since long before the development of cognitive neuroscience as a full-fledged branch of science.

  45. alwayscurious says

    Also on the social safety nets: people have to apply for the benefits–people don’t simply receive an unemployment check in the mail when they lose a job or a disability check the day after their foot gets crushed by a carelessly driven car or a box of food if the monthly paycheck only covers the rent. The social safety net therefore is both the ears & hands: it hears the problems & then responds to those specific problems (highly idealized, I know).

    Pretending safety nets are like chivalry also becomes an easy way to write off the social safety net: Detractors assume it’s money being flushed down the toilet, rife with fraud & waste given haphazardly to every individual who can play the part (smells funny, poorly dressed, etc.)–just as they might assume the door is always held by the man for the woman. In reality, people in need have to jump through some pretty amazing hoops to “prove” they need help before they receive a dime.

  46. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    So, while I was washing my hair and fuming about world injustices I reallized what this conflation of chivalry and basic courtesy is reminding me of.

    When we talk about being openly and unashamedly atheist, there sometimes appears a genius who pretends we are encouraging atheists to yell at their dying grandma that heaven isn’t real, God isn’t there and she is going to rot when she dies. Does this example make you roll your eyes because you’ve heard it a hundred times and it isn’t getting any less ridiculous.
    Same thing here. When we say that women don’t need men to open the door for them, that doesn’t mean we are going to give the stink eye to any man that holds the door for a 90-year-old woman with a cane, an umbrella and three grocery bags.

  47. A. Noyd says

    frog (#46)

    or (b) because our society has this belief and so when a woman is sloppy, she is belittled and berated for it

    Bingo. Most of what billgascoyne is interpreting as a difference in inherent characteristics is actually adaptation to a different environment. Women are punished for having lower standards of hygiene. We’re also often punished for showing our strength, using or enjoying too much profanity, and trying to pay our own way. The only inherent characteristic in play is the desire to avoid punishment. We know this because when men are punished for these things, they change their behavior accordingly as well. Plenty of such examples can be found where ethnic and class differences are maintained.

  48. says

    that men and women are in fact different, they think differently,

    Oh for the love of rats, wrong! Fractally wrong. Massively wrong. Couldn’t possibly be more wrong. You are in desperate need of the most basic education, billgascoyne.

    Oh, and no, you don’t get to extrapolate “my wife” onto everyone else. It’s worth noting that you feel perfectly comfortable speaking for your wife, though. I guess you do the thinking for her, too.

  49. crocodoc says

    @39

    This, as with most things, is context-dependent. It’s not always appropriate to say things like this to anyone at anytime.

    Sure. Anything you can ever say, or don’t say, or just the looks you give someone, or don’t, or looks you give someone else, or simply being in one place at the wrong time CAN be inappropriate. Often, being a man, I realize that too late, though. But some things are ALWAYS inappropriate.

  50. ChasCPeterson says

    wrong! Fractally wrong. Massively wrong. Couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

    because why, Caine? Because you say so? Because C.F. Fine sez so?
    The scientific jury is still out on this one. Strong assertions of any position as right or wrong, let alone as wrong as it’s possible to be, are unjustified, every single one of them.

    Nerd, are you going to be flooshing Caine’s OPINION here?

  51. says

    Chas:

    because why, Caine? Because you say so? Because C.F. Fine sez so?

    I’ve never read Cordelia Fine, Chas. I’m not SC, either. It’s wrong because it’s been a core component of misogyny throughout history. It’s that sort of thinking that is still used to maintain chilly climates to keep women out of certain fields.

    Now, I know I went all human and upset you terribly by doing so, but you have Thunderdome all to yourself now, so how about backing off a bit? Or would you prefer it if I simply left altogether? On second thought, don’t bother to answer that.

  52. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Now, remember, Chas is on another thread agreeing with a tone troll who insists that the Horde is mean for no reason and isn’t welcoming enough.

    On thunderdome and this one, Chas is behaving exactly like he was just agreeing with the tone troll on another thread is wrong and not welcoming enough.

    What level black belt in hypocrisy does one need to have to think no one will notice this?

  53. Anthony K says

    It’s wrong because it’s been a core component of misogyny throughout history.

    And even if not the case, it’s completely stupidly fucking moronic to bring into a discussion of Billy G’s wife who’ll die of the consumption if he’s not there to toss his jacket over a muddy carriage rut.

  54. says

    This is the same paper Pilty cited on my blog a while back as an argument for why chivalry is good and feminists are evil harpies trying to deprive women of their natural place in the world (AKA being treated like fragile dolls).

    Oh, let’s see: a touch of deference, as in opening doors. A bit less profanity in speech. I perceive that women’s standards of cleanliness are a bit higher than men’s. Heavy lifting when appropriate. Paying for dates. I do not find imagining how this “should be any different than they way one treats men” to be especially difficult. I suggest that treating your male friends by much of what I’ve mentioned above would be seen as somewhat derogatory to them.

    so many crewy assumptions, so little text.
    1)Holding doors open is a courtesy generally appreciated by everyone, not just women; opening doors OTOH is pointless, unless my hands are full; all it really is is an oldfashioned social symbol for the control men have over women’s movement.
    2)Why would censoring yourself in front of women but not men not be condescending to women? You’re basically implying with such actions that women can’t handle strong language as well as men can, (or conversely that slurs against women are acceptable when no women are around, which is also BS); and as an aside, this is a hilarious thing to say on Pharyngula.
    3)How’s recognizing that women were trained as housekeepers, while men were trained to have housekeepers not a negative thing?
    4)Why would lifting something for a strong woman not be derogatory, but lifting something for a weaker man be? This can only be true if you’re buying into toxic gender stereotypes about women being weak and men needing to be physically strong, both of which are shit.
    5)Paying for dates is archaic; makes only sense if you’re earning significantly more, and therefore can afford the cost much better (and on the flipside, why should it be derogatory to pay for a male friend’s (or date’s) dinner if you make a lot more than he does? that again only makes sense if you buy into toxic stereotypes about male=breadwinner). Otherwise going dutch seems like the more respectful solution, since you’re not treating the other person like a dependent.

    Please indulge me in turn and define what “benevolent sexism” means to you and how it differs from my description of “treating a woman like a lady

    it’s the same thing, largely. treating a woman like a lady is treating her like a delicate doll instead of an equal; and often it has the unspoken corollary that a woman needs to behave “like a lady” in return, which generally means not being “uppity” or otherwise behaving like an independent human being.

    oppression and recognition of gender differences are not the same

    you’re wrong.

    How is this notion of combating “benevolent sexism” different from dismantling the social safety net?

    because women are just as capable of opening their own doors, lifting heavy things, swearing and hearing other people swear, and otherwise behave like independent human beings as everyone else; there’s no need for “treating a woman like a lady” that isn’t simply a need to treat people of any gender with basic human decency. Can’t say the same about social safety nets, which are there to make sure people have what they need for being able to live.

  55. Dauphni says

    I think that’s an interesting bit about the response to benevolent sexism. Isn’t it just like men defending every scrap of perceived privilege, regardless of whether it’s actually benevolent in the grander scheme of things? It’s almost as if *gasp* women are human beings too. Fancy that.

  56. =8)-DX says

    I wanted to comment earlier on, but this thread has pretty much answered / discussed what I was going to write. But after all that thinky, thinky from you people, I’m going to dump something I find interesting:

    Personally I hold/open doors for pretty much anyone. That is pretty much how it goes in my society except in “high social events”, such as a fancy dinner out, the theatre / opera house etc (where people sometimes enjoy pretending to be “ladies and gentlemen”). And if I tend to volunteer to lift heavy objects, I try not to take gender into account – I’m just a small guy sitting at a computer all day and making my muscles ache a bit is very physically satisfying.

    But I was wondering. IF one lives in a society where women have been brought up to expect a higher standard of hygiene and IF I am interacting with women who DO hold a higher standard of hygine than I do (shower 1x-2x a day, clean everything everyday, mop and vacuum multiple times a week vs my shower 2x a week, clean things that need cleaning, wipe dust when it gets too annoying), whatever the actual capabilities of the sexes, I’m pretty much at a loss of how conforming to a particular woman’s standard of cleanliness in my interactions – because I know that particular woman or women won’t appreciate my smelly socks or farting/belching in public – is inappropriate. I mean I try to do my best, but I know my flat will never be as spotless, know I can never get myself to iron every item of clothing, etc and it’s mostly my upbringing. And I know women can be smelly etc. and never complain about it or mind it in women, just as in men.

    So to my point: IF women and men in a given society have been socialised to think differently about a given issue, what is wrong with accomodating one’s behaviour in interactions with the other sex (all the time attributing this to society, not ovaries/testes)?

    I think that’s the only shred of a point billgascoyne could have. In actual fact I try not to accomodate things based on gender, exactly because I think any sexism is bad, but then I feel that sometimes when interacting with women, it’s insensitive/overprivileged to ignore the different socialising many of them have undergone and behave as if they had been through the same upbringing as me.

  57. David Marjanović says

    I doubt that I succeed, but I try to treat men and women both nicely – hold doors for everyone, compliment appearance whether male or female, etc.

    …As far as I can tell, only very extroverted people who have an above-average opinion of themselves actually like having their appearance complimented. To everyone else, compliments are at best useless information about your personal taste – they may not actually want such intimate information about you.

    The only reason men put women on a pedestal is because this makes it easier to look up their dresses.

    Thread won.

    Unfortunately.

    I hold the door for people too. And it has nothing to do with their gender.

    I’m always baffled by men who proudly mention they hold the door for women. What, am I expected to let the door slam into men’s noses?!?

    billgascoyne, however, didn’t even mention holding doors. He talked about opening doors. Probably he runs around his wife, gets in her way, and then opens the door. If she likes that, great – but it’s not a good idea to assume that the entire Lady Monolith likes it that way. Hint: it’s not a monolith.

    Whenever I read this phrase or something analogous, I automatically lose respect for the person writing/speaking and think of all the previous times when I’ve read that phrase, or something similar, and had it followed by complete and utter nonsense that did nothing but waste everybody’s time. Has there EVER been a time when someone preemptively complained about flaming, when the content of their post was NOT eminently flame-worthy? Not in my experience.

    In a few cases, it was merely a bit cringeworthy as it turned out the people in question didn’t quite understand what they’d get flamed for, and posted something that wasn’t in fact flameworthy at all. But in general, people who say they know they’ll be flamed are trolls, pure and simple.

    wrong! Fractally wrong. Massively wrong. Couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

    because why, Caine? Because you say so? [...]
    The scientific jury is still out on this one. Strong assertions of any position as right or wrong, let alone as wrong as it’s possible to be, are unjustified, every single one of them.

    You’re confusing two hypotheses here.

    One is that there might be a statistically significant difference despite a large overlap. As far as I know, the scientific jury is indeed still out on this one.

    billgascoyne, on the other hand, clearly implies that there’s no overlap. I’m sure you personally know several examples to the contrary; that’s all that’s needed to disprove such a categorical, universal statement. It’s like the textbook example of “all swans are white”.

  58. mythbri says

    @=8)-DX

    Tailor your behavior to individuals, not genders. If by this:

    what is wrong with accomodating one’s behaviour in interactions with the other sex

    You mean presenting yourself as an attractive individual, a person it would be fun to hang out/go on dates with, then that’s really just a standard that people of all genders should behave in new company that you’d like to get to know better.

  59. Amphiox says

    Heavy lifting when appropriate.

    Speaking as a male 115 lb weakling, I have not infrequently had to ask for help from a variety of women for a variety of heavy lifting tasks.

    And on those occasions wherein testosterone poisoning has induced me not to ask for such help, I have lived to regret it….

  60. Amphiox says

    One is that there might be a statistically significant difference despite a large overlap. As far as I know, the scientific jury is indeed still out on this one.

    billgascoyne, on the other hand, clearly implies that there’s no overlap. I’m sure you personally know several examples to the contrary; that’s all that’s needed to disprove such a categorical, universal statement. It’s like the textbook example of “all swans are white”.

    For any individual cognitive trait that might be proposed, whatever statistically significant difference between the genders there might be, it can be pretty much assured that the magnitude of that difference will most often be dwarfed by the difference between any two random individuals of the same gender.

    And when it comes to those kinds of population studies, I would bet fair money that a small difference that was not statistically significant a century ago when there were around 1 billion humans on the planet could have become statistically significant now with 6 billion humans on the planet, even if nothing about the trait or its distribution changed at all, purely from the effect of large numbers.

    And if there is a difference that is not statistically significant today among 6 billion humans, it could become statistically significant some time in the future among 10 billion humans, again with absolutely nothing else needing to change.

    And furthermore, even if there WERE such a difference in the average WAY people of different genders might think, that matters little if the PRODUCT of these differing ways of thinking ends up equivalent. If you run a 100m dash in 10 seconds, does it matter if your shoes had an air pocket in the sole or a hydrogel pocket? If you bike 5 blocks to work, does it matter if your wheels had 18 spokes or 15 spokes? (Or if you used a tricycle?) Does it matter if you prefer to use street numbers versus landmarks when reading a map, if you get to the place you want to go in the same amount of time and effort either way?

    In other words, this is another excellent example of why “statistical” significant does not mean “clinical” or “practical” significance.

  61. =8)-DX says

    You mean presenting yourself as an attractive individual, a person it would be fun to hang out/go on dates with.

    For instance let’s take a simple meme: complimenting on a new haircut. Now normally I compliment anyone on a new haircut, because that’s just the polite thing to do. But It’s generally fair to say that in the culture I live in women have been socialised more to compliment new haircuts. In fact if a woman doesn’t notice another woman has a new haircut, she’s taken to be somewhat insensitive. Right, so this is a meaningless bit of cultural interaction that has nothing to do with ovaries, but rather to do with the socialisation of women to put emphasis on their looks (hair in particular). Now I colour my hair and am interested in whatever anyone else is doing with it in general, but is it sexist if I try to learn to always notice a woman’s haircut to see if it’s new? (While also commenting on a man’s hair if I notice the difference), or is it being sensitive to a cultural meme that women have been socialised to consider more important?

    Tailor your behavior to individuals, not genders.

    Yes, I try to do that. And it can lead to odd situations, like complimenting men on their hair/appearance in a way typically (in a typically sexist way) reserved for women. I enjoy that.

  62. watry says

    Nobody said this in the billgascoyne discussion above, so I’m going to–

    I don’t want to be treated like a lady. I want to be treated like a person.

  63. says

    “Benevolent” sexism leads to a double standard. Believing that women are naturally morally superior to men means that they get less credit when they are good and more blame when they’re bad.

    Opening doors for women emphasizes how weak and helpless they are. I open doors for anyone who has their hands full and hold them open for anyone behind me. It may also be part of “stereotype threat” — they start acting less capable because of the constant reminders. It’s easy to fall into.

  64. Xaivius says

    My father once told me: “Never hit a woman, son.”

    My mother promptly corrected him: “Fuck that, if someone hits you, hit them back. Bruises and black eyes don’t give a shit about gender.”

    This can be more appropriately applied as the fact that “hitting a woman” should really be “DON’T FUCKING HIT PEOPLE”

  65. says

    billgascoyne… why not just hold the door open for everybody?

    After seeing a talk given at FAU, I was, entirely by accident/circumstance, the first person at the left theater door. I held it open for everybody else who came out that door. It’s a 2000-seat theater. It’s built to also allow some standing room. This particular talk sold out. I hold that door for at least 1000 people, maybe more.

    No, sadly, no one offered to take over, but I wasn’t in any rush, either, as that talk was my last planned thing of the day, so I didn’t mind.

    I hold open doors for whoever’s behind me. Why should I single out women when holding open doors, and let the doors slam shut in men’s faces?

  66. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    David Marjanović @ #62: I would say with compliments, it may also be influenced by whether or not the feature being complimented is something someone’s clearly put some work into. New haircuts, stylish outfits, tattoos and stuff are generally things people have some pride in, extroverted or not.

    I am really quite amused that Billy G. really didn’t get how “If I treated men like I do women, they’d be insulted and feel demeaned!” could possibly be at all sexist.

  67. jacklewis says

    “I don’t want to be treated like a lady. I want to be treated like a person.”
    And here I thought that a lady was a person…
    Still at the end of the day you have more chance controlling how you treat others than how they treat you.
    People who get offended or have their self worth go down the drain the moment people open doors for them have some issues to work on.

    The original benevolent sexism article starts off with an obituary, of all examples to choose, this would by definition be the one with the least ability to diminish anyone’s self worth… The writer of the obituary says all sorts of nice things about that woman, she was a great cook, a wonderful mother and a brilliant scientist, clearly this is offensive sexist stuff… coz really two thirds of these things are not something that anyone let alone women should be proud to be good at… somehow.

    Next we have the core actually sexist meat of the article, women are easily swayed in terms of their reactions to injustices (such as the firing of pregnant women) by how they are treated by men. Women are apparently so extremely easily influenced by men around them being nice that they can no longer see sexists acts and react to them in protests or other forms.
    So now in some strange way men are now supposed to be in charge of not trying to influence women in the wrong direction in terms of their feminism by being too nice to them… if that’s not a sexist belittling view of women, I don’t know what is.

  68. Old At Heart says

    I like to hold open doors for people. Because I’m a good human.
    I like to hold open doors when they’re about ten feet away and make them scurry. Because I’m a good human, and humans are terrible people. It is funny how many people run if you hold a door open for them.

    I also like complimenting people. It’s a bit sociopathic, but I like to find out what people value about themselves, and then note that such a trait is doing well in them next time I see them. I find it especially makes the days of cashiers and wait staff.

    I like giving gifts to people. Just the other day I saw a nice cake on for half-price at the supermarket, so I bought it to share with some friends.

    Note, I never used a gender identifier in any of those, folks! Chivalry is from the medieval era, which, while newer than the bible at least, is still fairly dated. Knights had chivalry: Knights were nobles! You (whoever “you” are) are not likely nobility. Chivalry is about taking care of your lessers. By applying chivalry to only women, you imply only women are your lessers. “Noblesse Oblige” only counts if you have noblesse! (And if you do, could I have a title? Junior Executive Arch-Baron Old At Heart?)

    Now, I do acknowledge I have one bad trait: I like paying for meals out, within reason. If a pizza is to be bought, I’ll cover it. If its an appetizer for the table, it can be on my bill. I wind up fighting with each of my friends, across both genders, over this. Canadian bill-splitting can be weird, everyone wants to pay for everything in my circles. The end-state agreement usually is “if I invite you, I pay. If you invite me, you pay. If its spontaneous, we both pay”… You can see how that falls into problems as a policy though, even if all sides find it agreeable: For it to be a fair and equal policy, I must be on fair and equal terms with everyone I associate with. Which for the most part is, luckily, true; I think I wind up paying for about half my meals (and half their meals) with any given person, but it is clear where this can fail, and where it does, being “I got mine” selfish is the only solution.

  69. says

    If someone will be going through the door right after me, I’ll hold the door for them.
     
    That is without regard for gender.
     
    I would even hold the door if the next person was jacklewis.
     
    Why?
     
    Because I don’t know what jacklewis looks like.

  70. chigau (unless...) says

    myeck waters
    I would go out of my way to hold a door for you.
    Even if you were right beside jacklewis.

    I’d hold the door for Old At Heart, too.

  71. jacklewis says

    I’m always deeply fascinated by these sort of responses.
    It’s as if some Jack Lewis dude in the past has done something that fundamentally pissed you guys off.
    I can’t imagine what that would be, and I am not even sure if I should be feel bad or proud about whatever it was, assuming I had something to do with it. It just really strange stuff. Completely without substance as always but strange nonetheless.

    I’m glad to ear most people close their eyes and make no assessments of any parameters before holding doors open to others, I however am not in a coma so there are tons of factors that get weighed rather fast. Gender might be a factor, age definitely is, how much stuff people are carrying, how I am feeling, etc.
    I’m just not deluded to imagine that gender plays no factor at all or even that it shouldn’t.

    In real life for example when a heated situation occurs, I am typically less abusive towards women than men, sure it’s sexist, but I can’t see anything wrong with it or pretend otherwise.

    And you know what, when somebody opens a door for me, I say thanks and move on, it doesn’t disturb my self worth for a microsecond. For any author to imagine this simple gesture impacts on others (but not themselves obviously) is clearly sexist.

  72. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Oh yay, jacklewis has come to pontificate about sexism for us. I’m sure this will be soooooper interesting. *chinhands*

  73. says

    I *like* lifting heavy things. I have an old injury that I can actual tend to by lifting and carrying heavy things. I tore a ligament once and if muscle spasms pull my bone out of place, holding something heavy settles it back in and relaxes the muscle spasms.
    The last time a guy argued with me about how I shouldn’t be allowed to lift something on account of me being female, I may have actually told him it was okay, I lift with my legs, not my penis.
    So, please, hold the door open for your wife, if she actually likes it. But understand there are a *lot* of things you do with your wife that you shouldn’t do with other women without obtaining their consent. Because all of the things like paying for meals, minding your curse words, and carrying things that you wouldn’t do for the men you know, because they would see it as insulting? Yeah, some of us women are so not different that we find it insulting, too.

  74. says

    As for the doors; politeness calculates the distance the next person coming has to travel, and what they are coping with in terms of hinderance. One does not let the door close on someone immediately behind one, and it’s worth waiting for a few minutes for the person on crutches. Gender doesn’t seem relevant.

  75. thumper1990 says

    @jacklewis

    And you know what, when somebody opens a door for me, I say thanks and move on, it doesn’t disturb my self worth for a microsecond. For any author to imagine this simple gesture impacts on others (but not themselves obviously) is clearly sexist.

    Yeah, you’re not getting it. You should hold the door for everyone who is behind you. You hold the door, let them take it, and then move on; regardless of their gender. What BillGascoyne was suggesting is opening the door. As in, a woman is approaching the door, and he darts in front of them, opens it, and holds it open, because obviously they’re too weak and feeble to do it themselves.

    The former is common fucking courtesy. The latter is sexist. It’s a subtle distinction but an important one. No one here is saying that every woman would be entirely justified in throwing a shit fit just because someone held the door for them.

    Why is it people are so fucking incapable of distinguishing sexism from common courtesy? It’s the motives that make the difference. This is not a complicated distinction.

  76. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jack Lewis not getting it? Typical of this past posts here….

  77. embertine says

    Just co-signing all of the comments trying to explain why this apparently harmless stuff is not actually harmless.

    A few years ago I was changing a tyre for a colleague of mine who didn’t have time to do it. He was totally cool with having a beskirted female doing this task for him, seeing as I’d offered and he knew I’d done it umpteen times before (damn you, stray nails, and your abiding love for crawling under my wheels!).

    However, another male colleague was offended by my doing it (backwards and in heels, as they say), hovered over me making “Tsk”ing noises as I took the tyre off, and when it came time to put the spare back on, actually pushed me over into the dirt because “it’s too heavy for you to lift”.

    I don’t think a man knocking a woman to the ground in order to “protect” her from the big, nasty tyrey-wyrey is very “benevolent”. But that’s the extension of exactly this kind of thinking.

    I am not a fucking helpless little fluffbox. Sometimes I will need your help, sometimes not. Sometimes I will ask for your help, sometimes I will welcome it when you offer. JUST LIKE I WOULD IF I WERE A MAN. Don’t assume that I, a fit 34-year-old who used to shovel concrete for a living, can’t lift a freaking car tyre just because it threatens your masculinity.

  78. embertine says

    P.S. Samantha Vimes, I know what you mean. I had a quite severe lower back injury in a car crash, and if I don’t do any physical work it seizes up. This winter in the UK has been hell because it’s been so cold I haven’t been able to do any gardening, hence evil back pain. Went out and did a couple of hours of hard digging and aaaahhh, so much better.

    Another reason not to make assumptions about other people’s capabilities/requirements purely based on gender.

    P.P.S. Great screen name. :)

  79. Louis says

    I am a compulsive door holder. It’s a problem, I need help. Never seen why I should just hold doors for women though. After all the majority of men are physically weaker than me…

    …wait…I missed the point again didn’t I? Shucks.

    ;-)

    Louis

    P.S. In all seriousness, I do hold doors open for people all the time. I think Samantha Vimes has it in #81. Gender is irrelevant. I will open the door for the nearby hindered man and close it for the far off unhindered woman and all permutations in and around that. It’s about helping and consideration, not chivalry.

  80. Louis says

    Embertine, #84,

    He did WHAT?! That’s a tyre spanner in the gentleman fruit. Minimum.

    ;-)

    Louis

  81. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I hold doors for people.

    I also let people in when they are trapped by a huge line of traffic and pick stuff up if they drop it and have their hands full, are dealing with kids, don’t notice they dropped it etc..

    I don’t take notice of their apparent sex before making the determination on whether I’m going to help out or not.

    I don’t see any reason to stop being helpful…

    to people

  82. thumper1990 says

    *wipes down computer monitor*

    God dammit Louis… *descends into Muttley muttering*

  83. Maureen Brian says

    That’s a great story, embertine, even if it proves a pretty horrible point.

    Persons engaged in such masculinity protection in the UK need to be reminded – forcefully – that HM The Queen is a qualified motor mechanic, army trained, and probably still could strip an engine down at 86, should the need arise.

  84. embertine says

    Gentleman fruit? That made me cackle. Is it the equivalent of “lady biscuits”?

    *makes a note*

  85. rq says

    Just signing on, as always, with those in agreement that this ‘benevolence’ is not so benevolent. Special hat-tips to everyone being nice to people for being people.

    embertine, Samantha Vimes
    While I don’t have an old injury for which heavy lifting is a remedy, I also take great pride and satisfaction in doing heavy manual labour and carrying large, encumbersome and heavy items.
    I once had a tug-of-war with Husband’s younger brother, because I wouldn’t let him take the giant pail of water-and-berries from me. He was ready to grab it from me, and was quite surprised when I didn’t yield. Hey, I picked those berries, I wanted to rinse them, I could damn well carry the whole bucket myself (not a small one, either). He was ready to argue for it (physically) but I think he realized it would end up with a whole lot of sloshing and lost berries and a huge clean-up with little result. Now he knows better.
    Also, Husband knows better than to tell him to come help me unless I ask.
    Now, is it snacktime? Someone mentioned fruit and biscuits.

  86. says

    The door thing: quite a few guys at work make a show of holding doors open for the women (old and young alike). But strangely, whenever I hold a door for someone from the cleaning/maintenance staff trying to manoeuver a big cart through heavy glass doors they are flabbergasted, despite their being mostly women.
    So what do I make of that?
    .
    Consideration is about taking the other person’s point of view: holding door for the encumbered, carrying sth. or giving up your seat for someone with a cast/cane etc. IF they want it. Sometimes people would rather struggle than be perceived as helpless.
    This can be gender-specific. Talking about your genitals or seeing your dirty underwear are more likely to make people of the opposite sex uncomfortable. Women are more likely (to be under pressure to) wear shoes not up to walking through mud, or making them slip more easily: the old rule was to be below the lady on the staircase – well take a look at her shoes.
    I see no loss in dropping chivalry and replacing it with consideration.

  87. says

    Big Boppa@45

    Once, I did encounter a young woman who called me an asshole when I held a door for her. I figured that if a small act of common courtesy offended her so much she deserved her miserable existence.

    It wasn’t “a small act of common courtesy” that offended her.
    Walk a mile in her shoes, be told a million times how inferior you are, then have one more person treat you as different. Then maybe you’ll understand.
    .
    I think it’s an important point because it’s often said women are “overreacting” to something like sexist remarks. It’s not that one thing, that one person, that one situation. It’s a lifetime of discrimination AND that one thing.

  88. thumper1990 says

    @Maureen Brian

    Persons engaged in such masculinity protection in the UK need to be reminded – forcefully – that HM The Queen is a qualified motor mechanic, army trained, and probably still could strip an engine down at 86, should the need arise.

    Seriously? I did not know that. And I’m English.

  89. thumper1990 says

    I see no loss in dropping chivalry and replacing it with consideration.

    Q to the motherFuckin’ T!

  90. burgundy says

    I dated a guy in highschool who was big on chivalry. The basic door opening didn’t bother me terribly. But if we were going into a building that had a foyer, with a set of doors on either side… he would open the first door, and I would walk through, so then of course I would get to the next door before he did, so I would open it and hold it for him, and he would walk up behind me, take hold of the door, and wait for me to go in front of him. It was ridiculous, and a little insulting, because it clearly showed that he would actively ignore my choices in order to do the appropriately “manly” thing. Which is a good illustration of how chivalry deprives women of agency. (He did not, however, do the “walking below her on the stairs” thing. If he had, it might have prevented me from getting a really awful bruise that time that I slipped. But then again, it might have resulted in a multi-person pile-up. Either way, it wasn’t his responsibility.)

    A former coworker made a big deal about carrying a projector back to the office instead of letting me do it, not because it was too heavy but because I as a woman did not want to develop big muscles. I told him that in fact I did want big muscles, and I carried it myself (it wasn’t even that heavy.) Once again, a woman’s individual preferences are erased and she becomes generic Lady.

    It’s not gentlemanly, and it’s not considerate. It’s insulting.

  91. David Marjanović says

    And when it comes to those kinds of population studies, I would bet fair money that a small difference that was not statistically significant a century ago when there were around 1 billion humans on the planet could have become statistically significant now with 6 billion humans on the planet, even if nothing about the trait or its distribution changed at all, purely from the effect of large numbers.

    And if there is a difference that is not statistically significant today among 6 billion humans, it could become statistically significant some time in the future among 10 billion humans, again with absolutely nothing else needing to change.

    And furthermore, even if there WERE such a difference in the average WAY people of different genders might think, that matters little if the PRODUCT of these differing ways of thinking ends up equivalent. If you run a 100m dash in 10 seconds, does it matter if your shoes had an air pocket in the sole or a hydrogel pocket? If you bike 5 blocks to work, does it matter if your wheels had 18 spokes or 15 spokes? (Or if you used a tricycle?) Does it matter if you prefer to use street numbers versus landmarks when reading a map, if you get to the place you want to go in the same amount of time and effort either way?

    In other words, this is another excellent example of why “statistical” significant does not mean “clinical” or “practical” significance.

    All QFT.

    “Benevolent” sexism leads to a double standard. Believing that women are naturally morally superior to men means that they get less credit when they are good and more blame when they’re bad.

    Plus, at rare occasions, it means women get no blame when they’re bad – because the people in charge can’t believe that any woman could ever be that bad.

    I would say with compliments, it may also be influenced by whether or not the feature being complimented is something someone’s clearly put some work into. New haircuts, stylish outfits, tattoos and stuff are generally things people have some pride in, extroverted or not.

    Good point. Even so, however, complications may apply: for instance they might have done that work specifically to attract someone who is not me…

    humans are terrible people. It is funny how many people run if you hold a door open for them.

    …Not wanting you to wait for very long is terrible?

    I also like complimenting people. It’s a bit sociopathic, but I like to find out what people value about themselves, and then note that such a trait is doing well in them next time I see them. I find it especially makes the days of cashiers and wait staff.

    Culture shock. I wouldn’t get the idea of starting such a private conversation in such a professional situation with people who are, usually, so pressed for time.

  92. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I would say with compliments, it may also be influenced by whether or not the feature being complimented is something someone’s clearly put some work into. New haircuts, stylish outfits, tattoos and stuff are generally things people have some pride in, extroverted or not.

    Good point. Even so, however, complications may apply: for instance they might have done that work specifically to attract someone who is not me…

    Or they could have done it for themselves. I cut my hair every month because I want to keep it short, I don’t do it for attention.
    Imagine how tiring it can become to someone with an interesting tattoo when strangers comment on it over and over and over again. Not everything that you find interesting is an invitation to comment on it, just because you perceive it so.

    I like to paint my nails. I have a shoebox full of nail polishes, but I am especially fond of some bright red colors. I’ve been told that “women who use red nail polish just want to attract attention”. Yeah, a lot of things we (usually just women, except maybe with tattoos) do get us coded as “attention seekers”. I’m sure some people like to be complimented on a new haircut, but take care not to treat these personal changes as something that a woman must have done to get attention/acknowledgement/some hot guy.

  93. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    A guy at work and I were carrying heavy boxes. He offered to take one of mine, even though I wasn’t struggling. (I suspect he only really offered because he didn’t like being seen carrying one while I carried two.) When told him I could handle it he got so offended that he placed his box on top of the two I was already carrying and called me “Xena”, snidely. I carried all three the rest of the way, even though it did hurt to have to carry the extra box.

    That let me know what was really behind chivalry.

  94. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    That let me know what was really behind chivalry.

    Word. in a way, billgascoyne made it clear as well. By admitting that treating men the way he treats women would be considered insulting to those men, he’s also admitting that behind chivalry is the desire to diminish women to make himself feel like a hero.

    Chivalry is and always has been a way for men to show off how superior they are to other men, by how “well” they treat inferiors: Women.

  95. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Plus, at rare occasions, it means women get no blame when they’re bad – because the people in charge can’t believe that any woman could ever be that bad.

    See, for instance, my entire fucking elementary and middle school career.

  96. says

    Well that was weird…

    One of my classmates saw me reading this discussion just now and said this:

    Back when, servants held open the doors for royalty. So maybe men are servants and women are royalty?

    I have zero idea how that’s relevant, and it really doesn’t make the shit any better, but… for some reason I felt like sharing it.

    It really just kinda flips the sexism a bit… though not really, because it also just adds burden to women they didn’t ask for.

    Anyways…

    It’s still better to just hold the door for anyone and everyone because that’s the polite thing to do.

  97. howard says

    Chivalry and benevolent sexism has another face too.

    The ‘you didn’t act the way ladies act, so I can punch you in the face and remain a perfect gentleman’ face.

    It’s all about how you treat the ‘ladies.’

    But not every woman is a lady.

    The pedestal, as constricting and horrible as it is, is nothing compared to what happens to women who fall off the pedestal.

    Because then ‘she was asking for it.’

    Because then ‘what did she expect.’

  98. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    NateHevens,

    It hardly flips the sexism, it’s just playing pretend. A man is going to be a “humble servant” and open the door for his wife/girlfriend, but who is most probably cleaning the house behind that door and cooking his lunch?

  99. msbananagrabber says

    Hi all!
    I’m delurking to respond to Big Boppa @ 45.
    I don’t know that I would call a man an asshole for just opening a door, but I have responded negatively soemtimes. I never get rude unless they have a bad reaction to my justified rejection of their door or if they are doing what I call “offensive door opening” which is when a man opens a door for you but then partially blocks your way with his full body or arm causing you to crouch, squeeze, or brush up against him when you pass.
    The biggest blow-up happened when I was in college. I was hired into the A/V dept and part of my job was delivering and retrieving TV’s or mobile computer workstations to classrooms. I am not a morning person. One morning I was called in early to deliver a TV for an 8 am class. (I’m laughing at this now because it would be nice to sleep in to 7:30 everyday!) When I got off the elevator to deliver the TV, there was a middle-aged man painting the stairwell walls. He dropped what he was doing and ran towards the doors say “Oh my! That looks so heavy! Let me get that for you!” This insulted me, but I kept it to myself. Then he walked through the door and held it open at the jamb, with his arm stretched across the entire door. I couldn’t get through. I could see from my vantage point that if I pushed the TV through, it would smash his hand. I said in a tired yet exasperated tone “I’m sorry but you are in my way.” My tone was incredibly nice considering 1) I’m not a morning person 2) He just insulted me and 3) He was now blocking me from getting to my destination due to the world’s most ridiculous way of holding a door open. But no, that was “yelling” at him. He blew up. I blew up. We actually had a stand-off and a staring contest. Finally, the asshole relented and moved out of my way. He was huffing and puffing! He sneered “I was just trying to be nice!” No, he wasn’t. It was a sexist move that became a power struggle when I didn’t accept it. I bet he went out with his buddies after work to complain about the big evil feminist who yelled at him for opening a door…something he won’t do again!

  100. says

    msbananagrabber:
    I don’t recall ever seeing* that forcing-you-to-squeeze-by form of door holding, but it seems really skeevy.
     
    *mind you, being a guymandude, I spent my formative years with my sexism detector set to “blithely ignorant”.
     
    This winter I decided to save on heating bills and grow a beard. Surprise! I’m all grey there. Suddenly I saw people literally dropping what they were doing to run up and hold the door for me. A couple times I was walking on the sidewalk and people pulled over and insisted I needed a ride. It was baffling and a bit annoying and I only experienced it for a few weeks. A couple years of that and I’d be ready to go at them with attack marmots.

  101. says

    Beatrice @ #106:

    NateHevens,

    It hardly flips the sexism, it’s just playing pretend. A man is going to be a “humble servant” and open the door for his wife/girlfriend, but who is most probably cleaning the house behind that door and cooking his lunch?

    You’re reading of it is much more accurate than mine was…

  102. says

    The door thing: quite a few guys at work make a show of holding doors open for the women (old and young alike). But strangely, whenever I hold a door for someone from the cleaning/maintenance staff trying to manoeuver a big cart through heavy glass doors they are flabbergasted, despite their being mostly women.
    So what do I make of that?

    Apparently cleaning staff are not women or at least not the right kind of women. People treat cleaning staff amazingly poorly. I cannot believe the messes people leave for them, and the utter contempt some people have for cleaning staff. It is mindboggling. A few nights ago I saw a McDonalds employee come out with a huge cart of cardboard which ended up falling over. I suppose your coworkers would be horrified to know that I ran over and helped him out; a man and a McDonalds employee. How terrible.

  103. says

    not the right kind of women

    well d’uh. They’re not “ladies”, they’re “staff”. Which is the other really shitty aspect to the whole “ladies” concept. It’s incredibly racist and classist.

  104. nightshadequeen says

    ….the rules I grew up with were “the person on the hinge side opens the door, assuming other things* equal”

    *Items being carried, mostly.

  105. Acolyte of Sagan says

    How hard can it really be? Just treat everybody with equal respect – or equal disdain; (your choice, but if you want to have any friends, the former is recommended) unless they give you reason not to.

  106. says

    Regarding the OP:

    No fucking shit.

    Regarding the people seemingly confused on why benevolent sexism is bad besides the OP reasons:

    Because it’s an unwanted gift solving an unrelated fictional problem.

    Basically, it takes a real issue (sexism) and a real imbalance of power (male privilege combined with societal sexism) and instead of actually addressing that, it provides a different “reward” that assumes an inherent inferiority on the part of the receiving party.

    Oh, you’re being denied equal pay for equal work? Well, we’ll hold open a few doors. Oh, you’re not fully considered human when it comes to medical rights with your own body? Well, hey, we’ll assume you can’t handle curse words. Oh, you’re denied the right to read and work outside the home? Well, hey, we’ll tell you that you rule over the “home sphere” and hold complete power over children and appliances.

    And if you couldn’t tell from the last example, that shit is fucked up beyond all reason and blocks actually addressing the core issues of inequality.

    In fact, it’s often used as a cudgel and a means of ignoring inequality. It goes: Oh, men and women are equal, because while women are indeed treated like subhumans, they get all these “chivalrous treatments”. And because they are treated so kindly in a way that men aren’t and because I, personally am not part of all that general oppression, I’m giving something without receiving anything back and that’s unfair. Clearly these women now owe me certain favors for having received this unwanted “gift” of condescending horseshit by dating me or forgiving privilege fails or not calling sexism or not being able to say no to demands for sex.

    Additionally, these “gifts” of seemingly “benevolent” sexism often carry powerful sexist assumptions about women. Their capabilities, their strengths, and how they are allowed to participate in society.

    And like with any minority placed in a specific role they are expected to fulfill, failure to fill that role is viewed harshly and even more violently punished. Extra punished because it comes off as ungrateful, because after all, the sexist assumptions were “a gift” and “benevolent”. So, if a woman starts critiquing the system as sexist or “breaking protocol” in how they are allowed to bring up concerns (as we saw with Adria Richards), then they are brutally treated for “not being a lady”.

    And you can see this in action by the way that more “chivalrous” areas of the country and times of history are also the periods with severely reduced rights and allowed roles for women.

    Also, all the OP reasons.

  107. Eristae says

    It has been my experience that “benevolent sexism” stops being so “benevolent” as soon as the woman in question does something that the man doesn’t like. Then all of a sudden she’s a stupid cock sucking whore who uses men for money while offering nothing in return, thus making her worthy of all kinds of insults and threats.

    Chivalry is the “carrot” in the “carrot an stick” method of enforcing sexism. If you’re good, just look at how nice* those great men will be to you! But if you’re not good . . .

    It’s really quite lovely.

    *Nice isn’t the right word, but it’s a word they would use.

  108. dvizard says

    So you’re saying that women who were feeling treated well were less likely to oppose the current system? Madness, I say.

  109. Maureen Brian says

    No, dvizard, they were not “feeling treated well” they were feeling patronised and hemmed in!

    How many iterations will it take? Go read the OP again then Cerberus @ 114. Then read them again – as many times as it takes for you to understand.

  110. dvizard says

    This is clearly not what the results of said study say. If they felt patronized and hemmed in, why would they have tended to be less active in feminism (as opposed to more active)?

    Honestly, I agree with feminism. I just think that in some cases there is a tendency to frame results of e.g. studies in a way that seems bizarre to the outer world.

    Do you suggest that we men should be less nice to women just so they are more unhappy with the current system and more likely to act against it?

    This is not only nihilistic but also condescending to women, because it suggests again that women need men’s help (this time in the form of “making their situation worse”) in order to achieve their goals.

    Because it’s an unwanted gift solving an unrelated fictional problem.

    Basically, it takes a real issue (sexism) and a real imbalance of power (male privilege combined with societal sexism) and instead of actually addressing that, it provides a different “reward” that assumes an inherent inferiority on the part of the receiving party.

    Oh, you’re being denied equal pay for equal work? Well, we’ll hold open a few doors. Oh, you’re not fully considered human when it comes to medical rights with your own body? Well, hey, we’ll assume you can’t handle curse words. Oh, you’re denied the right to read and work outside the home? Well, hey, we’ll tell you that you rule over the “home sphere” and hold complete power over children and appliances.

    What a load of bull. I think that it should be perfectly possible to live in a world where women get equal pay, autonomy over their bodies, and free job choice and men should still be able to hold the doors for them and treat them nicely because it’s not a “pay” they get for being inferiorized. It’s just a nice thing to do.

    (The one with the home sphere is different, I agree.)

  111. says

    This is not only nihilistic but also condescending to women, because it suggests again that women need men’s help (this time in the form of “making their situation worse”) in order to achieve their goals.

    sorry, are you pretending it’s extra condescending to women to say ‘you shouldn’t be especially nice to women’? Do you live in a parallel universe?

    What a load of bull. I think that it should be perfectly possible to live in a world where women get equal pay, autonomy over their bodies, and free job choice and men should still be able to hold the doors for them and treat them nicely because it’s not a “pay” they get for being inferiorized. It’s just a nice thing to do.

    You should be nice to everyone, not women especially. If you’re having trouble with this and think women need to be treated ‘especially nicely’, then it’s just a leftover remnant of sexism. And the simple truth is, that ‘especially nicely’ always comes with caveats to make sure you behave ‘properly’.

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    and men should still be able to hold the doors for them and treat them nicely because it’s not a “pay” they get for being inferiorized. It’s just a nice thing to do.

    How patronizing of you to talk for women, instead of shutting the fuck up and listening to them. That is showing them real nice treatment, listening, not preaching. Preacher.

  113. says

    Honestly, I agree with feminism. I just think that in some cases there is a tendency to frame results of e.g. studies in a way that seems bizarre to the outer world.

    Look, some of us are familiar with history and the past outside of one study. And given that the results of the study aren’t good (that women are less likely to act in the short term against the even more obvious problems), and the results of what actually happened in the past aren’t great (that yes, chivalry was used as a cudgel against women who broke tradition), there is little wrong in using inference not found in that one paper, because that one paper is not the sum and total of all empirical evidence gathered. It’s not even the only peer review gathered.

  114. dvizard says

    Clearly these women now owe me certain favors for having received this unwanted “gift” of condescending horseshit by dating me or forgiving privilege fails or not calling sexism or not being able to say no to demands for sex.

    See, this is an instance of what I call bizarre framing. How dare I be nice to someone in order to get them to like me! This is so sexist!

    Say (heaven forbid!) a guy happens to like a girl. What is he supposed to do, non-sexistically, in order to get himself noticed and get her attracted to him? Just waiting for two years and sitting around does nothing. (I’ve actually tried that. :) ) Active courtship is way more promising and will usually involve him being nice to said person. She likes it? Fine. She doesn’t? She’s free to reject him.

    Note that this doesn’t imply the guy being non-sexist either. So this guy may be a flaming sexist and this will hopefully be a factor in him getting rejected; and such people are the ones who will most likely utter comments to the like of above-mentioned “stupid cock sucking whore who uses men for money while offering nothing in return”. But he might as well be a non-sexist who hopefully channels his inevitable bitterness differently.

  115. dvizard says

    sorry, are you pretending it’s extra condescending to women to say ‘you shouldn’t be especially nice to women’? Do you live in a parallel universe?

    No, I say it’s condescending to imply that women would need men to be un-nice to them in order for them to embrace feminism. Because that’s what the OP and the study were hinting at.
    To clarify: I interpreted the OP as Stop being “nice” to women because being “nice” to them will make them less feminist. I find it condescending to women to imply that they need men to change their behavior in order for them to get active in feminism; as if there was not enough wrong with the world already to get active on.

  116. dvizard says

    How patronizing of you to talk for women, instead of shutting the fuck up and listening to them. That is showing them real nice treatment, listening, not preaching. Preacher.

    I can’t tell how ironic you are or not (and I don’t follow the battlefield enough to know on which “side” you are), but I was talking to men, not women.

  117. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No, I say it’s condescending to imply that women would need men to be un-nice to them i

    YOU quit defining what is and isn’t nice. Shut the fuck up and listen to what women think is nice behavior.

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but I was talking to men, not women.

    No, you were preaching at everybody your fuckwittery. I’m a man, and you aren’t talking to me. You are talking to yourself. If you want to talk to me, show me you have shut the fuck up and listened to the women,

  119. dvizard says

    Wow. I thought I was speaking entirely pro feminists when I said, feminism don’t need men’s gentle nudges (in this case, in the form of men being less nice to women in order to them to get off their asses and fight for their rights.) But maybe I’m just blatantly wrong on what feminism is supposed to be.

  120. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I thought I was speaking entirely pro feminists when I said,

    Nope, not even close. Feminism is about equality. Preferential/condescending treatment based on one’s sex isn’t equality. Usually it is a means to keep one sex “in their place”. You miss the basic definition.

  121. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    [feminists] don’t need…men being less nice to women in order to [get them] off their asses and fight…

    1. That’s not what you said. You said that maybe we do need overtly nasty behavior, not that we don’t need condescending behavior.

    2. The behavior you endorse – chivalry – in condescending and is group targeted at women by men. We’re pretty suspicious of any time a man says that “women need X”. If you’re holding the door for me b/c I’m a woman, I don’t want it.

    If you’re holding the door for me because I’m a human being, great.

    3. yes. You’re blatantly wrong on what feminism is *and* what it’s supposed to be. It’s never been about men treating women extra nice.

    It’s about equality.

  122. Maureen Brian says

    The bloke lives up to the stereotype.

    Statement one: “I agree with Feminism.”

    Statement two: “Now I’m going to tell you what feminism is and explain to you how to do it.”

    We have been here before, some of us over several decades, and we are not some “other world” but, in fact, slightly more than half of this one. You don’t live in a monastery on Mount Athos, do you?

    I want you to respect me on the basis of my age, my intelligence, my experience, my usefulness in the wider community, my skills in one or two areas, whatever it is that appeals and impresses you. And if you don’t respect me for who and what I am, just as you would with a man, then I don’t want you playing silly games. I don’t want you pretending a respect which is not real. That would be dishonest, would it not?

    I can do without you, dvizard, or any of your ilk defining a role or a pattern of behaviour for me. I take responsibility myself for the way I behave and the role that I have I carved out for myself.

  123. Tethys says

    To clarify: I interpreted the OP as Stop being “nice” to women because being “nice” to them will make them less feminist.

    Go back and read it again, you clearly misunderstand the OP if that is your conclusion. The first sentence has a qualifying phrase that makes the meaning clear.

    It’s not bad to say a woman is pretty, or to help her open a door, is it? It can be, when it is benevolent sexism.

    If you are only opening the door for women you would like to date, that is an example of benevolent sexism. Your action implies that you are only nice because you have a purely selfish ulterior motive, rather than concern for the object of your desire.

    Shorter me, feminism = treating women as equals.

  124. dvizard says

    Maybe I need to learn more about feminism. I don’t want to tell anybody what feminism is. No snarkiness intended.

    If a man says to a woman: “I will not be chivalrous to you, because it has been found that this might keep you from engaging in feminism” – how is this not condescending? It is telling her she can’t decide for her own that she’s oppressed and needs to do something about it.

    He basically would be saying to the woman: “You shouldn’t like me being nice to you, you should be offended by it.” And this is exactly telling women what they should feel, which is what you’re telling me is wrong and I agree.

    This was the one point I expected you guys would agree to. To the rest of my talk, opposition is what I was expecting.

    (To the rest: I do for a fact know at least some women who do like galant men and they have told me so. I know you here do not, and I was not expecting you to. I would use neither group as final authorities to determine of what “women” want and I think nobody should argue as if his position was representative for the whole of his gender/sex.)

  125. Maureen Brian says

    I’m glad you’re finally going to learn about feminism.

    Lesson one might be to ask yourself what prompted you and this other imaginary man to take up this chivalry thing in the first place?

  126. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If a man says to a woman: “I will not be chivalrous to you, because it has been found that this might keep you from engaging in feminism” – how is this not condescending?

    How is it not condescending of YOU TO DEFINE WHAT IS AND ISN’T NICE BEHAVIOR? Try shutting the fuck up and listening. Your PREACHING is tiresome, well refuted bullshit.

  127. dvizard says

    If you are only opening the door for women you would like to date, that is an example of benevolent sexism. Your action implies that you are only nice because you have a purely selfish ulterior motive, rather than concern for the object of your desire.

    … Come on, this is bizarre.

    I challenge you to come up with non-selfish ways of attracting someone’s interest, which I believe is an entirely legitimate goal to have and not limited to man-to-woman interactions.

  128. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This was the one point I expected you guys would agree to.

    Agree that you could act like an “chivalrous” asshole to women for your idiotic reasons? Chivalry died ages ago. Why didn’t you get the memo?

  129. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I challenge you to come up with non-selfish ways of attracting someone’s interest,

    Easy. Talk to and actually listen to her. DUH. What a dipshit.

  130. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Somewhere out in the vast universe, the maker of all clues is dying a little.

  131. dvizard says

    Easy. Talk to and actually listen to her. DUH. What a dipshit.

    If you do it to attract her interest, it is still selfish BY DEFINITION. Duh. I was not suggesting that someone might magically become super-attracted to me because I hold the door for her. But the suggestion that there exist interactions outside of purely talking with a person that also might influence our relationship (intended as “relative standing to each other”) is far from heterodox, I believe.

    It is kind of a Heisenbergian truth that whatever I think of doing with or to another person, I never know how he/she will react to it before I actually do it. The only thing I can do is guess based on experience. I might have been ruined a little by backpacking for half a year, which has exposed me to a wide range of behaviours (both among travelers and among societes with more machism than mine) I was not used to anymore and to their effects. I have come to the conclusion that pursuing egalitarian ideals must not necessarily mean behaving like an asexual.

  132. Amphiox says

    If you do it to attract her interest, it is still selfish BY DEFINITION.

    And here you have applied a definition of “selfish” so precisely restricted as to be practically meaningless.

  133. says

    A desire to have all the fun is nine-tenths of the law of chivalry.

    - Dorothy Sayers (Gaudy Night)

    @dvizard
    Be nice by all means. Be considerate. That means, not you but the other person defines what you should or should not do for them. Read all the comments again, and you’ll see that your outdated ideas of “nice” are not what most women want. Above all they want to be considered to be real human beings. Is that really so hard to understand?

  134. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you do it to attract her interest, it is still selfish BY DEFINITION. Duh.

    Nope. Try using real definitions. You have no point. Your idiosyncratic definitions don’t fly in real arguments. All you can do is flail about mindlessly while you still don’t/won’t get the real point of the argument.

  135. Amphiox says

    I would use neither group as final authorities to determine of what “women” want and I think nobody should argue as if his position was representative for the whole of his gender/sex.

    You should not be even talking about what “women” want as a group. You should be talking about what people want as individuals.

  136. Tethys says

    Myself

    If you are only opening the door for women you would like to date, that is an example of benevolent sexism. Your action implies that you are only nice because you have a purely selfish ulterior motive, rather than concern for the object of your desire.

    Qualifiers bolded for the hard of thinking.

    Do you open doors for A) anyone who may need assistance, or B) only for women you deem fuckable?

    If A, than you are showing courtesy to fellow human beings, and this says something about you as a person.

    If B, than you are putting your penis above any other consideration. This also says something about you as a person.

  137. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    you’ll see that your outdated ideas of “nice” are not what most women want.

    Actually, I disagree with you here, Delft, in the sense that it doesn’t matter what most women want.

    You cannot tell what a person will like or not before you do it – this is more anti-Delphic than Heisenbergian: a heisenberg test would tell you that you *can* know, but only the level of sexual attraction or the level of friendliness, not both, and knowing one changes the value of the other in unpredictable ways. If you don’t know Heisenberg, don’t invoke Heisenberg: you surely don’t need his ideas to tell you you can’t predict the future.

    But the logical implication is not: do whatever the majority of your acquaintances have accepted in the past. The logical implication is to **actually talk to other people in your life, treat them like individuals, ask what they prefer, and then, if you want to be kind, do that.**

    Who cares what the majority of women prefer? Women can actually communicate their desires and preferences – often in words! Using words, you can learn how to be a nice person to absolutely anyone!

    It’s true!!!

  138. dvizard says

    I open doors for everyone, though admittedly for women more than for men, because on the average (and that’s the only thing I have to guess with; I do simply not know about every preference of every individual) I have learned in the course of my life that most men don’t care that much one way or another and to some women it’s important. If I specifically fancy one woman (or man, for that matter) I will try to be extra nice to them in a way I hope they like, and I think the concept is not all that strange. And yes in this case it is, strictly speaking, selfish just like any other courtship behaviour.

    @144: I fully agree.

  139. dvizard says

    You are right, my invocation of Heisenberg was superfluous, I thought it witty at the time, but it admittedly isn’t so much.

  140. dvizard says

    Well, that escalated quickly. One minute we’re talking about whether or not it is a thinkable-of behaviour to open a door for someone, and the next instant I’m cornering women I don’t know in elevators and am suggested to rather fuck a doll.

  141. Maureen Brian says

    I was wrong about Lesson One,

    It should have been – 1a: Shut up and listen and 1b: Read for comprehension.

    I don’t think you’re gonna make it, dvizard. You like the sound of your own voice too much.

  142. says

    I open doors for everyone, though admittedly for women more than for men, because on the average (and that’s the only thing I have to guess with; I do simply not know about every preference of every individual) I have learned in the course of my life that most men don’t care that much one way or another and to some women it’s important

    So, you’re still in it for the cookies

  143. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    of behaviour to open a door for someone,

    Why are you opening doors? To be polite? Then always do it for the encumbered, etc., those who really need help. If you do it to be “nice” in your fictitious world, do it for everybody. It is sexist if you only do it for women, as a means to talk to them.

  144. says

    Crip Dyke@147
    I said @142

    Be considerate. That means, not you but the other person defines what you should or should not do for them.

    I wasn’t arguing for doing whatever the majority want. (cf. 94 if this isn’t clear enough).
    .
    Even if most women wanted to be treated like shit, I still wouldn’t recommend it, so it doesn’t follow logically. But dvizard interpreted the OP as

    Stop being “nice” to women because being “nice” to them will make them less feminist.

    In that context it does matter that the proposed idea of “nice” is outdated.
    .
    I’d also say knowing what is a reasonable default position is important, as many interactions we have in the day are with people we don’t have enough contact with to go into details of their personal preferences. This default can, though of course needn’t be, the majority line (e.g. if a minority finds a certain behaviour threatening).

  145. says

    Amphiox

    Speaking as a male 115 lb weakling, I have not infrequently had to ask for help from a variety of women for a variety of heavy lifting tasks.

    And on those occasions wherein testosterone poisoning has induced me not to ask for such help, I have lived to regret it….

    I’m a very thin man on the short side of average, and while I’m not as frail as I look, I’m not notably strong either. My ex-gf is a good head taller than I am, possibly twice as broad in the shoulders, and way, way, brawnier and stronger than me on my best day. When we would help friends to move, guess who got asked to move/help move the heavy stuff the most often? And then, after asking me, people would express surprise that I was able to do it, and say that they thought they’d have to ask her, leaving me wondering why didn’t they ask her in the first damn place, then? She’s clearly more able to do this shit than I am.

    dvizard
    Are you a libertarian? Your insistence that selfishness is the sole motivation for human behaviour, and twisting of the concept of selfishness to fit this idea, is very familiar to me.

  146. dvizard says

    @Dalillama: I was in fact a libertarian, but have grown disappointed with most of its ideas. (And yes I say this for the sole purpose of making you guys believe that I am able to learn.) Regarding selfishness: Sometimes I shorten arguments for discussion so I don’t have to write a wall of text to explain it in detail, believing that people will interpret it benevolently. But then I forget I am on the internet and everything I say will be used against me.

    @155: Actually it doesn’t. “Stop doing X to women because doing X will make them less feminist” is saying women are somehow not capable of feminism on their own and need some help from men to be guided on the right path. Regardless of what X is. Were I a woman, I would find this condescending.

    The results are quite discouraging; when the women read statements illustrating benevolent sexism, they were less willing to engage in anti-sexist collective action

  147. says

    dvizard
    I thought so I used to be a Libertarian too, I know the spiel. Just for your further information, It’s got nothing to do with charitable interpretation; that routine about selfishness is complete bullshit, and should be jettisoned with the rest of the libertarian claptrap.

    Were I a woman, I would find this condescending.

    This is because you lack understanding of the overall social effects of the types of prejudice under discussion. This is called priming, and is a well known psychological effect in many areas. The takeaway is that a)priming for negative behaviors should be avoided by everyone, and b) just because the immediate effect of an action can appear positive doesn’t mean that it is, or that it’s not part of a problematic social structure, so people should stop engaging in actions that, e.g. prop up a sexist and patriarchal social order.