Opening the door is “benevolent sexism,” really?

by Karin on June 16, 2011 · 9 comments

Post image for Opening the door is “benevolent sexism,” really? When I saw this headline, Men who hold open doors for women are SEXIST not chivalrous, feminists claim, I read the story.  I think you will too.  Here is the beginning of the article.
Men who open doors for women are guilty of 'benevolent sexism' according to a new study by feminist psychologists. Helping the ladies choose the right computer as well as carrying their shopping are also signs of 'unseen' sexism in society, according to the report.
These feminists are finding sexism in more and more places.  Here is a little bit about the study that was done:
Researchers from the Society for the Psychology of Women conducted a study among workers of both genders in America and Germany. The volunteers were asked to keep diaries in which they were asked to note examples from a long list of both sexist and non-sexist incidents - without being told what the study was for. The list included blatant acts of sexism such as referring to women as 'b****' or 'chick' or unwanted attention from men. But it also included acts of 'benevolent sexism', even romantic statements from men about how they cannot live without a woman or how much they 'cherish' women, said the study.
Is sexism as rampant as this article claims?  This article reminded me of the NeW Gentlemen's Showcase.  I think the gentlemen who were nominated would see opening the door as a sign as respect, rather than covert sexism.  

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryant June 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Well, thank you for posting this Karin. I’m not really sure how to respond. On the one hand, I almost want to laugh at how pathetic it is to think that opening doors for women is sexist. I open doors for anyone who is walking behind me or who has their hands full. If I stop doing this for women, then I would be doing it only for men. Yep that sounds totally un-sexist. Calling the opening of doors “sexist” is utter nonsense conjured up by some illogical women who can’t seem to get that broken “victim” record to stop playing in their heads. I frankly only see it in utterly agendized (if I can make up a word) liberal women and men who see it as their goal in life to proclaim every man a sexist and every white person a racist and every Christian a bigot and every conservative a hateful greedy miser. These women (and some very confused men) are illogical in their arguments and unscientific in their studies. On the one hand I can combat their arguments, but frankly, that would be giving their babble the dignity of being considered an argument.
Is sexism wrong? Yes. Sexism is when one gender thinks another gender is inferior in some capacity in which they truly are not, and acts against that gender because of it. Sounds like liberal feminists are the real sexists.


Kara June 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I think if you want to find a problem, then you will find it. I think this is an example of women who want to believe that Sexism is alive and rampant, who are having a hard time finding it.

It is true that there are some traditional differences in the way a man might treat a woman as opposed to a man. However if there is no harm being done by these delicate differences, I do not see the need to spend time and money and effort into proving it.

Personally I am of the opinion that these signs of “’unseen’ sexism” are traditions that define us as a society. I would even go as far as to claim that the traditional chivalry of men strengthens relationships and families.


Matthias June 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

Holding the door open for a woman is with out a doubt sexist. When a man opens a door for a woman, he is basing his action on the assumption that there are implicit or natural differences between the gender. This is gender discrimination.

That being said, I find that type of discrimination to be wholly healthy and as Kara noted, ‘traditions that define us as a society.’ Of course, feminists these days would like to be rid of any notion of difference between the sexes. In doing so, they would strip men and women naked of character and destroy the excitement that comes from men and women interacting in the unique ways that come about because of sexuality.

Edmund Burke comes to mind as someone who might agree. Chivalry is behavioral discrimination based on ‘sexist’ assumptions. Those assumptions just happen to be right, and basing our attitudes and behaviors on those assumptions just happen to make for fuller, happier lives.

p.s. My first time on this website. Just want to say I love what you lovely ladies are doing. Keep up the good work.


Bryant June 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I understand what you’re getting at, but I was using sexist with this definition: Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women. The “against” is key. Discrimination is just making distinctions. But when you use those distinctions to demean or put down a certain sex or certain race then that is wrong. It’s not wrong to discriminate, I agree. However, using sexist as it is currently understood to mean wrongful preference AGAINST a certain gender, then it is not correct, and opening doors for women is not sexist. I use the modern definition because the historical definition is often unhelpful. I am both joyful and participate in the thinking of free men who are not enslaved to a government or landowner; however, it’s not helpful for me to say I’m gay and a liberal thinker: it only confuses everyone and requires unnecessary explanation.


LR July 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm

USA has more benevolent sexism than Germany. In Germany, I heard women can open doors open for men, pay for dates, ask for dates, etc. and men simply don’t mind. In the USA, if women do that, they get seen as unfeminine or slutty. So, American ladies, it’s about time you pack your stuff leave your man behind and head to Germany, men will treat you like an equal there.


LR July 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Also, it is a man’s duty to get a woman to commit to her and put her on a tight leash.


Bryant July 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I suppose if a woman wants to be treated like a man, then she could leave for Germany; however if she would like to be treated as a lady then I can’t recommend that. No one is suggesting that a woman cannot open a door, even offer to pay for a date. However, a gentleman should not let the woman have to pay for a date, or have to open a door.

Your second comment is sad. I’m sorry for any woman you attempt to put a leash on.


Janet Swim August 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

The point of the study was to see whether paying attention to everyday forms of sexism altered people’s endorsement of sexist beliefs about women. (You can go to the following website to read about it
The point was not to argue that open doors is sexist but to determine what is the consequence of not discounting everyday incidents but instead observing and thinking about them. The most frequent incidents observed and labeled by our participants as being sexist were: 1) demeaning names (e.g., being called a bitch or faggot); 2) unwanted sexual attention; or 3) being stereotyped. If everyday incidents are meaningless then attending to them should have no effects. If they are appreciated then they should not make women think that something should be done about them. But the result indicate that women thought that it was was more important to address sexism and less likely to think, for instance, that women should be treated paterialistically. Men do the same but they need to think about how these incidents make the target of the incident feels or have the harm explained to them.


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