A Paternalistic Duty to Protect? Predicting Men’s Decisions to Confront Sexism

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Abstract

Research suggests that women weigh the perceived costs and benefits when deciding whether to confront sexism on behalf of themselves or other women. Novel to the present research, we tested whether men similarly weigh the anticipated costs and benefits when deciding whether to confront sexism on behalf of women. Using path analysis across 2 correlational studies, we also investigated how endorsement of a masculine protection ideology predicted frequency of confronting sexism on behalf of socially close (e.g., girlfriend, sister) versus distant (e.g., acquaintance, stranger) women. Results from Study 1 (N = 148 undergraduate men) revealed that men were motivated by the perceived benefit, but not the perceived cost, when deciding whether to confront sexism. In both studies (Study 2 N = 205 male MTurk workers), the extent to which men endorsed a masculine ideology of protection positively predicted their frequency of confronting for socially close, but not distant women. We conclude that in some cases paternalistic masculinity may promote antisexist behavior (confronting on behalf of socially close women), although the impact of those confrontations for sexism reduction remains to be tested.

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