Romantic Teenagers Are Also Sexist

Illustration for article titled Romantic Teenagers Are Also Sexist

A recent study looked at sexism in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. Apparently, boys who had more romantic relationship experience were more benevolently sexist. What the hell is benevolent sexism?


As Bella DePaulo writes for Psychology Today:

Here are examples of items measuring BENEVOLENT SEXISM:
* Women should be cherished and protected by men.
* Many women have a quality of purity that few men possess.
* Every man ought to have a woman whom he adores.
* A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man.

As an explanation, the researchers offered that maybe benevolent sexism is a useful tool in attracting female partners. And it's true that many of these examples — putting a woman on a pedestal, for instance — could sound pretty romantic and desirable to a teenage girl. The study's results were different for girls; young women who had more romantic relationship experience endorsed more hostile sexism.

Here are some examples of items measuring HOSTILE SEXISM; greater agreement indicates more hostile sexist attitudes.
* When women lose to men in a fair competition, they typically complain about being discriminated against.
* Women seek to gain power by getting control over men.
* Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them.
* Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.

The fact that young people are participating in any kind of sexism is tragic, thought DePaulo points out: "Over the course of the teenage years, sexism wanes." Then again, sometimes it sticks around; shw writes: "consider this sad finding from other research: some heterosexual women don't want to call themselves feminists because they think that would make them less romantically attractive to men."

Adolescent Romance: Do You Think It Is Linked to Sexism? [Psychology Today]



Well, here's the problem. Benevolent sexism still sucks, even though it's not overtly dangerous (well, up to the point when the man's assumptions are challenged, when it often does become dangerous). But hostile sexism is in fact worse, in that it's so very in your face.

And yep, you hear a whole lot of it from young women still in the flailing to find their sense of self and place in the world stage. I'm always torn between smacking them upside the head with the clue stick and just rolling my eyes and waiting for them to grow out of it.