Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 71, Issue 11–12, pp 436–449 | Cite as

The Precious Vessel: Ambivalent Sexism and Opposition to Elective and Traumatic Abortion

  • Yanshu Huang
  • Danny Osborne
  • Chris G. Sibley
  • Paul G. Davies
Original Article

Abstract

Ambivalent sexism theory highlights the pernicious effects of benevolent sexism on women’s freedoms in society. Because the ideology idealizes women as nurturing mothers, benevolent sexism should be negatively associated with support for women’s reproductive rights. The current study examined this possibility by assessing the relationship between benevolent sexism and support for (a) elective abortion (i.e., abortions pursued, regardless of the reason) and (b) traumatic abortion (i.e., abortions pursued when the woman’s life is endangered) in a national probability sample of New Zealand adults (N = 6,132). As predicted, benevolent sexism was negatively associated with support for both elective and traumatic abortion. In contrast, hostile sexism—the punitive component of ambivalent sexism—was only negatively associated with support for traumatic abortion. These results demonstrate that ambivalent sexism—and particularly benevolent sexism—restricts women’s reproductive rights even in extreme cases where a woman’s life is in danger.

Keywords

Ambivalent sexism Benevolent sexism Hostile sexism Traumatic abortion Elective abortion Motherhood 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Data collection for Time 3 of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) analyzed here was supported by a University of Auckland FRDF (3700683/9853) grant awarded to Danny Osborne, and Performance Based Research Funds jointly awarded to Chris G. Sibley and Danny Osborne.

References

  1. Adebayo, A. (1990). Male attitudes toward abortion: An analysis of urban survey data. Social Indicators Research, 22, 213–228. doi: 10.1007/BF00354841.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvarez, R. M., & Brehm, J. (1995). American ambivalence towards abortion policy: Development of a heteroskedastic probit model of competing values. American Journal of Political Science, 39, 1055–1082. doi: 10.2307/2111669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bahr, S. J., & Marcos, A. C. (2003). Cross-cultural attitudes toward abortion: Greeks versus Americans. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 402–424. doi: 10.1177/0192513X02250892.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barreto, M., & Ellemers, N. (2005). The burden of benevolent sexism: How it contributes to the maintenance of gender inequalities. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 633–642. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batson, C. D., Schoenrade, P., & Ventis, W. L. (1993). Religion and the individual: A social-psychological perspective. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Benin, M. H. (1985). Determinants of opposition to abortion: An analysis of the hard and soft scales. Sociological Perspectives, 28, 199–216. doi: 10.2307/1389057.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bulbulia, J., Osborne, D., & Sibley, C. G. (2013). Moral foundations predict religious orientations in New Zealand. PLoS ONE, 8(12), 1–7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlton, C. L., Nelson, E. S., & Coleman, P. K. (2000). College students’ attitudes toward abortion and commitment to the issue. Social Science Journal, 37, 619–625. doi: 10.1016/S0362-3319(00)00101-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cook, E. A., Jelen, T. G., & Wilcox, C. (1992). Between two absolutes: Public opinion and the politics of abortion. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  10. Craig, S. C., Kane, J. G., & Martinez, M. D. (2002). Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t: Citizens’ ambivalence about abortion. Political Psychology, 23, 285–301. doi: 10.1111/0162-895X.00282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dardenne, B., Dumont, M., & Bollier, T. (2007). Insidious dangers of benevolent sexism: Consequences for women’s performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 764–779. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.5.764.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Esposito, C. L., & Basow, S. A. (1995). College students’ attitudes toward abortion: The role of knowledge and demographic variables. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 1996–2017. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1995.tb01828.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finlay, B. A. (1981). Sex differences in correlates of abortion attitudes among college students. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 571–582. doi: 10.2307/351758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fiorina, M. P., Abrams, S. J., & Pope, J. C. (2006). Culture war? The myth of a polarized America (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Longman.Google Scholar
  15. Fischer, A. R. (2006). Women’s benevolent sexism as reaction to hostility. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 410–416. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00316.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Forbes, G. B., Adams-Curtis, L. E., Hamm, N. R., & White, K. B. (2003). Perceptions of the woman who breastfeeds: The role of erotophobia, sexism, and attitudinal variables. Sex Roles, 49, 379–388. doi: 10.1023/A:1025116305434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gaunt, R. (2013). Ambivalent sexism and perceptions of men and women who violate gendered family roles. Community Work and Family, 16, 401–416. doi: 10.1080/13668803.2013.779231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2001). An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality. American Psychologist, 56, 109–118. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.56.2.109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Glick, P., Diebold, J., Bailey-Werner, B., & Zhu, L. (1997). The two faces of Adam: Ambivalent sexism and polarized attitudes toward women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1323–1334. doi: 10.1177/01461672972312009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Glick, P., Fiske, S. T., Mladinic, A., Saiz, J. L., Abrams, D., Masser, B., & Lopez, W. (2000). Beyond prejudice as simple antipathy: Hostile and benevolent sexism across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 763–775. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.5.763.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gorsuch, R. L., & Aleshire, D. (1974). Christian faith and ethnic prejudice: A review and interpretation of research. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 13, 281–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hammond, M. D., & Sibley, C. G. (2011). Why are benevolent sexists happier? Sex Roles, 65, 332–343. doi: 10.1007/s11199-011-0017-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hammond, M. D., Sibley, C. G., & Overall, N. C. (2014). The allure of sexism: Psychological entitlement fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 422–429. doi: 10.1177/1948550613506124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hebl, M. R., King, E. B., Glick, P., Singletary, S. L., & Kazama, S. (2007). Hostile and benevolent reactions toward pregnant women: Complementary interpersonal punishments and rewards that maintain traditional roles. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1499–1511. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.6.1499.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hess, J. A., & Rueb, J. D. (2005). Attitudes toward abortion, religion, and party affiliation among college students. Current Psychology, 24, 24–42. doi: 10.1007/s12144-005-1002-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoverd, W.J., Bulbulia, J., Partow, N., & Sibley, C.G. (2014). Forecasting religious change: A Bayesian model predicting proportional Christian change in New Zealand. Religion, Brain & Behavior. doi:  10.1080/2153599X.2013.824497.
  28. Hunsberger, B. (1996). Religious fundamentalism, right-wing authoritarianism, and hostility toward homosexuals in non-Christian religious groups. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6, 39–49. doi: 10.1207/s15327582ijpr0601_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jelen, T. G., Damore, D. F., & Lamatsch, T. (2002). Gender, employment status, and abortion: A longitudinal analysis. Sex Roles, 47, 321–330. doi: 10.1023/A:1021427014047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kilianski, S. E., & Rudman, L. A. (1998). Wanting it both ways: Do women approve of benevolent sexism? Sex Roles, 39, 333–352. doi: 10.1023/A:1018814924402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krishnan, V. (1991). Abortion in Canada: Religious and ideological dimensions of women’s attitudes. Biodemography and Social Biology, 38, 249–257. doi: 10.1080/19485565.1991.9988792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Malik, K. (2013). The rise of the South: Human progress in a diverse world. Human development report 2013. New York, New York: United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=2294673.Google Scholar
  33. Moya, M., Glick, P., Expósito, F., de Lemus, S., & Hart, J. (2007). It’s for your own good: Benevolent sexism and women’s reactions to protectively justified restrictions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1421–1434. doi: 10.1177/0146167207304790.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Murphy, A. O., Sutton, R. M., Douglas, K. M., & McClellan, L. M. (2011). Ambivalent sexism and the “do”s and “don’t”s of pregnancy: Examining attitudes toward proscriptions and the women who flout them. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 812–816. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.06.031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Muthén, L.K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2012). Mplus user's guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  36. Osborne, D., & Davies, P. G. (2009). Social dominance orientation, ambivalent sexism, and abortion: Explaining pro-choice and pro-life attitudes. In L. B. Palcroft & M. V. Lopez (Eds.), Personality assessment: New research (pp. 309–320). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  37. Osborne, D., & Davies, P. G. (2012). When benevolence backfires: Benevolent sexists’ opposition to elective and traumatic abortion. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42, 291–307. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00890.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Perry, P., & Trlin, A. (1982). Attitudes toward abortion in a provincial area of New Zealand: Differentials and determinants. Journal of Sociology, 18, 399–416. doi: 10.1177/144078338201800307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891. doi: 10.3758/BRM.40.3.879.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sahar, G., & Karasawa, K. (2005). Is the personal always political? A cross-cultural analysis of abortion attitudes. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27, 285–296. doi: 10.1207/s15324834basp2704_1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sears, D. O. (1986). College sophomores in the laboratory: Influences of a narrow data base on social psychology’s view of human nature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 515–530. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.51.3.515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sibley, C. G., & Perry, R. (2010). An opposing process model of benevolent sexism. Sex Roles, 62, 438–452. doi: 10.1007/s11199-009-9705-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smith, T. W., Marsden, P. V., Hout, M., & Kim, J. (2011). General Social Surveys, 1972–2010: Cumulative Codebook. University of Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.Google Scholar
  44. Statistics New Zealand. (2006). QuickStats about culture and identity. Wellington, New Zealand: Retrieved from http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/QuickStats/quickstats-about-a-subject/culture-and-identity.aspx.Google Scholar
  45. Strickler, J., & Danigelis, N. L. (2002). Changing frameworks in attitudes toward abortion. Sociological Forum, 17, 187–201. doi: 10.1023/A:1016033012225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sutton, R. M., Douglas, K. M., & McClellan, L. M. (2011). Benevolent sexism, perceived health risks, and the inclination to restrict pregnant women’s freedoms. Sex Roles, 65, 596–605. doi: 10.1007/s11199-010-9869-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Trlin, A. D. (1975). Abortion in New Zealand: A review. The Australian Journal of Social Issues, 10, 179–196.Google Scholar
  48. Turner, N. E. (1998). These is my words: The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881–1901. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  49. Viki, G. T., & Abrams, D. (2002). But she was unfaithful: Benevolent sexism and reactions to rape victims who violate traditional gender role expectations. Sex Roles, 47, 289–293. doi: 10.1023/A:1021342912248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Viki, G. T., Massey, K., & Masser, B. (2005). When chivalry backfires: Benevolent sexism and attitudes toward Myra Hindley. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 10, 109–120. doi: 10.1348/135532504X15277.
  51. Walzer, S. (1994). The role of gender in determining abortion attitudes. Social Science Quarterly, 75, 687–693.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang, G., & Buffalo, M. D. (2004). Social and cultural determinants of attitudes toward abortion: A test of Reiss’ hypotheses. Social Science Journal, 41, 93–105. doi: 10.1016/j.soscij.2003.10.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zucker, G. S. (1999). Attributional and symbolic predictors of abortion attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 1218–1245. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1999.tb02037.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanshu Huang
    • 1
  • Danny Osborne
    • 1
  • Chris G. Sibley
    • 1
  • Paul G. Davies
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaOkanaganCanada

Personalised recommendations