Resisting Prejudice Every Day: Exploring Women’s Assertive Responses to Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Semitism, Heterosexism, and Sexism
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Past lab and scenario research on sexism suggests that women are more likely to contemplate than to engage in assertive confrontation of prejudice. The present study was designed to explore how the competing cultural forces of activist norms and gender role prescriptions for women to be passive and accommodating may contribute to women’s response strategies. Women were asked to keep diaries of incidents of anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, and sexism, including why they responded, how they responded, and the consequences of their responses. Participants were about as likely to report they were motivated by activist goals as they were to report being motivated by gender role consistent goals to avoid conflict. Those with gender role-consistent goals were less likely to respond assertively. Participants were more likely to consider assertive responses (for 75% of incidents) than to actually make them (for 40% of incidents). Assertive responders did, however, report better outcomes on a variety of indicators of satisfaction and closure, at the expense of heightened interpersonal conflict. Results are discussed with respect to the personal and social implications of responding to interpersonal prejudice.