Sex Roles

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 333-352

First online:

Wanting It Both Ways: Do Women Approve of Benevolent Sexism?

  • Stephen E. Kilianski
  • , Laurie A. Rudman

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An oft-expressed criticism of feminism is thatwomen “want it both ways,” opposing whatGlick and Fiske (1996) have called “hostilesexism,” but accepting or approving of“benevolent sexism.” To examine this issue, anethnically and socioeconomically diverse group of onehundred female undergraduate volunteers rated profilesof a hostile sexist, a benevolent sexist and anon-sexist. For the benevolent sexist, ratings were mildlyfavorable, while for the hostile sexist, ratings werehighly unfavorable. Forty-four participants (a categoryreferred to as equivocal egalitarians) approved of the benevolent sexist while disapproving ofthe hostile sexist. Equivocal egalitarianism waspositively related to participants' Attitudes AboutReality (Unger, Draper, & Pendergrass, 1986) andnegatively related to their belief that hostile andbenevolent sexism could coexist. Overall, participantsconsidered it unlikelythat the hostile and benevolentsexist profiles described the same person. Givenprevious findings, these data suggest that women mayunderestimate the coexistence of hostile and benevolentsexism in men (Glick & Fiske, 1996).