Prescription of protective paternalism for men in romantic and work contexts
Male protectiveness can be perceived as sexism. The perception depends on the situation, some protectiveness can be identified as benevolent while other protectiveness can be seen as contributing to women’s subordination. Protective paternalism, a particular form of benevolent sexism, refers to the belief that men should protect, take care of, cherish, and provide for the women on whom they depend. This paper examines 6 studies, studies demonstrating that prescription of protective paternalism for men is a complex phenomenon because it depends on contextual as well as individual variables. The studies explore prescribed protective paternalism in the context of romantic relations and also work situations. The findings in the paper conclude that improved understandings of various ideologies, as proposed through the studies, are necessary in order to move closer toward genuine equality between the sexes.
Behavioral prescription specifies how people ought to act. Five studies investigated prescription for men of protective paternalism, a particular form of benevolent sexism, depending on contextual and individual factors. In Studies 1 and 2, female participants prescribed for men more protective paternalistic behavior toward women in a romantic than in a work context. In Study 3, male participants prescribed the same level of protective paternalistic behavior as female participants did. Conversely, more gender egalitarianism was prescribed for men in a work than in a romantic context (Studies 1–3). In Study 4, the same protective paternalistic behavior was labeled as intimacy in a romantic context but was identified to the same extent as intimacy and as sexism in a work context. In Study 5, female participants’ benevolent sexist beliefs predicted their prescription of protective paternalistic behavior for men in both contexts. These studies demonstrated that prescription of protective paternalism for men is a complex phenomenon because it depends on contextual as well as individual variables. These findings need to be added to the list of factors explaining how this particular form of sexism is maintained within gender relationships and how it contributes to women’s subordination.
Sarlet, M., Dumont, M., Delacollette, N., & Dardenne, B. (2012). Prescription of Protective Paternalism for Men in Romantic and Work Contexts Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36 (4), 444-457 DOI: 10.1177/0361684312454842