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Sexism Has a Negative Impact on Men Too

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

When it comes to sexist remarks, women are not the only ones negatively impacted. Researchers say cat-calls produce negative feelings from women that have the potential to influence how women think, feel and behave towards men. Sexism can have a negative impact on men too.

Just witnessing women who are the targets of sexism can affect how women behave toward men. Stephenie Chaudoir and Diane Quinn, from the University of Connecticut asked undergraduate female students to rate their feelings after watching videos of men making cat-calls, compared to men who simply greeted women – e.g. “Hey Kelly, your boobs look great in that shirt or simply Hey Kelly, what’s up.” The students were asked to imagine themselves as bystanders.

Sexually harassing remarks provoked feelings of anger and hostility from women, something that ultimately has a negative impact on men too.

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When questioned about anxiety, depression and hostility levels after watching women who were victims of sexist remarks, the female students responded with a desire to either move away from men or take action against them. They also felt a stronger sense of gender identity from witnessing men making cat-calls at other women.

The authors concluded “Women are obviously implicated because they suffer direct negative consequences as targets of prejudice and, as the current work demonstrates, indirect consequences as bystanders. But sexism also harms men as well. Whenever a single man’s prejudiced actions are attributed to his gender identity, male perpetrators impact how women view and react to men more generally.”

Women in the study had a tendency to view sexual harassment as harmful to females in general, rather than taking the remarks personally. When the students viewed men making cat-calls, they were likely to feel anger and negativity, even as bystanders. Women were likely to either move away from men, or say they wanted to take action against them. Sexism can hurt men too, and is bad for everyone.

Springer News Release