Posted by: bkivey | 4 December 2012

Logical Fail

When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.
Dalai Lama


One of the purported benefits of education is the development of critical thinking skills; the ability to reach logical conclusions from a data set. Some academic fields, particularly those in the ‘studies’ areas, tend to dress up personal bias with the trappings of logic. I would think that at the very least a degree that has ‘studies’ in it would require a passing familiarity with the rigorous treatment of data sets, such as statistics. If you’re going to ‘study’ something, you should have the ability to test hypothesis in a controlled, reproducible manner. Taking a look at the curriculum requirements from the Women’s and Gender Studies department at a large state university, we find that nowhere in the curriculum at any level is a single course in statistics, or any other math, required. There are a number of courses that involve sitting around talking, and, I suspect, confirming the participants biases.

It’s from this skepticism-free and self-referential environment that we get work like this article from the current issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly (shouldn’t that be Womyn?) The full text of Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing?: Associations With System Justification and Life Satisfaction is only available by subscription, but the abstract is revealing:

Previous research suggests that benevolent sexism is an ideology that perpetuates gender inequality. But despite its negative consequences, benevolent sexism is a prevalent ideology that some even find attractive. To better understand why women and men alike might be motivated to adopt benevolent sexism, the current study tested ’s prediction that benevolent sexism might have a positive linkage to life satisfaction through increased diffuse system justification, or the sense that the status quo is fair. A structural equation model revealed that benevolent sexism was positively associated with diffuse system justification within a sample of 274 college women and 111 college men. Additionally,benevolent sexism was indirectly associated with life satisfaction for both women and men through diffuse system justification. In contrast, hostile sexism was not related to diffuse system justification or life satisfaction. The results imply that although benevolent sexism perpetuates inequality at the structural level, it might offer some benefits at the personal level. Thus, our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.

I get the distinct feeling that work like this is published more to impress others in the field than to actually advance knowledge. ‘Benevolent sexism’ is feminista – speak for ‘good manners’, like opening a door or pulling out a chair. ‘System justification theory’ is a social psychology proposition that people have an interest in upholding the status quo, even when that action is detrimental to certain members of society. Cutting through the academic gobbledygook, it appears the study found that  people practice good manners because it has personal benefits.

To the paper’s authors, if I open a door for a woman, it perpetrates inequality, but if I open a door for another man, it’s . . . what? Latent homosexuality? Non-verbal submission? Implied inferiority projection (I don’t think you can open a door)? God forbid I might open a door for someone because it’s a nice thing to do. I haven’t read the paper, but the authors don’t appear to consider that social graces might enhance the specie’s viability, something considered by Hobbes and others.

So, although good manners are appreciated by most people, we have to have ‘interventions’ to ‘reduce’ their ‘prevalence’. Maybe instead we should have interventions to reduce the prevalence of ‘Women’s Studies’.

A Job for the PC Police

There’s a high school in San Antonio, TX, that appears to be doing all they can to give the finger to the PC police.

  • Motto: “On the warpath to success”
  • School symbol: a reversed Washington Redskins logo.
  • Band nickname: The Million Dollar Band From Indian Land

Today in History

1619 – America’s 1st Thanksgiving Day (Va)

1674 – Father Marquette builds 1st dwelling in what is now Chicago

1680 – Hen in Rome lays an egg imprinted with comet not seen until Dec 16th

1918 – Pres Wilson sails for Versailles Peace Conference in France, 1st chief executive to travel outside US while in office

1973 – Pioneer 10 reaches Jupiter





  1. Two longitudinal studies examined the system-justifying effect of women’s benevolent sexist ideology in New Zealand female undergraduate samples. Women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism predicted longitudinal changes in hostile sexist attitudes toward their gender over 6-month (study 1; n = 117) and 12-month (study 2; n = 76) periods. Consistent with Ambivalent Sexism Theory, these findings indicate that women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism disarms resistance to, and increases their endorsement of, more hostile forms of sexism directed toward their gender. However, the disarming effect of benevolent sexism occurred only for women high in Right-Wing Authoritarianism (study 2), suggesting that threat-driven authoritarian motivations for collective security and social cohesion cause women to actively participate in an ideological system that perpetuates gender inequality.

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