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Daddy Guilty Of ‘Benevolent Sexism’ By Making Daughter ‘Princess’: Marquette

Chances are you’re sexist and didn’t even realize it.

Sexism has “taken another subtle but potentially more dangerous form” because “it lives in us,” Marquette University junior Wyatt Massey wrote on the storytelling platform Medium this week.

Massey describes the research of Marquette psychology professors, whose paper “Experiencing Sexism and Young Women’s Body Esteem” makes the case that “benevolent sexism” is prevalent in American families.

Freshmen women and their parents were given surveys at the start and end of the college school year about “traditional feminine roles and characteristics” and how they “rate 35 of their own body parts,” Massey says:

Women who had higher body esteems were more likely to have fathers who practiced benevolent sexism.

The research suggests that benevolent sexism is so deeply ingrained in American culture that women experience it daily. The majority of people don’t realize they’re encountering it.

Little girls who want to be a princess apparently have enabling fathers:

The study provided the example of a father who gives his daughter a disproportionate amount of economic support because she is his “special little princess.”

While the father and daughter may view this as familial love, it promotes the belief that women cannot provide for themselves economically. Ultimately it hinders the daughter’s personal development.

And if she’s not a princess, she’ll get an eating disorder?

Difficulties with body esteem have been linked to mental health issues, such as eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Those at greater risk of body esteem issues must learn to effectively cope and respond to both forms of sexism.

It’s not clear why Massey is writing now about this research, which he calls “recent” but was actually published in the December 2012  Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Marquette itself tweeted the article Saturday.

Read the whole article here.

IMAGE: Courtney Carmody/Flickr
About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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