“Women are the most amazing creatures on earth. They are such gentle souls.”
You may have heard such sayings before. Can putting women on a pedestal be a bad thing for equality? Sexism, by definition, is the belief that one gender is superior to another. By saying that women are better than men (at gentleness or any other attribute), we are essentially saying that women are superior to men. And that is sexist.
If you want a more practical way of finding out if this is sexism, think back to five girls or women that you know very well. Then compare each of those women’s personality to this maxim. How does the maxim hold up? Surely, even if all of these girls/women are amazing, not all of them will be “gentle souls”. Now try to think of five boys or men who you know to be “gentle souls”. Does it seem like the quote at the beginning of this post is making sweeping generalizations about the two genders? That’s prejudice for you.
Do you hold attitudes of this kind of “benevolent sexism”? Take this short quiz to find out.
If you want to find out more about ambivalent sexism, which is a combination of hostile and benevolent sexism, go to this page.