Stay calm and say NO to Benevolent Sexism…“It is cold dear… let me help you with that coat… here love ! Take my seat… your poor feet must be tired… Sweetheart let me open those car doors for you dear…” A noble valiant knight fearlessly scooping off the timid, petite and delicate lady off her feet on to his horse… The first instinct is what a wonderfully romantic storyline right out of a idyllic novel that this lady has been led to ! How so delightfully, magnificently gusty and chivalrous of the man isn’t it ? Ladies…Hang on ! Wait a minute ! Have you just noticed that this lady has been subjected to a subtle form of sexism known as Benevolent Sexism? Yes ! It is a form of gender discrimination based by stereotyping women to be precious, delicate, weak and beings that need to be protected and looked after ! What more? It comes well and truly disguised and packaged as caring, chivalrous and affectionate behavior whilst truly condescendingly patronizing in the depths of it…The beautiful fairy tales related to young girls, including Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and sleeping beauty all stereotype fetching, powerless and dainty princesses who are swiftly saved by gallant and daring princes ! Can you see how the genders have been typically type casted to fit rudimentary beliefs on how genders must operate !How about we learn about fairy tales lesser known to us? The “Paper Bag princess” written by Robert Munsch is one such where the PRINCESS sets to free the prince only to reject him for his mean comments on her appearance ! Talk about breaking glass ceilings !What about our own princess Merida from Brave who believes in finding her purpose in life and not cast to be the damsel in distress whose only purpose in life is to find a suitor ! Similarly, we must applaud the feature film Frozen, where Anna’s sister love for Elsa saves her thus shattering medieval archetypes that only a prince in love can salvage the suffering feeble princesses ! Benevolent sexism – This was a term coined in 1996 by 2 people Glick and Fiske. They were spot on , isn’t it ? In my opinion benevolent sexism is more destructive and disturbing than its hostile counterpart !Perpetuating and reinforcing stereotypes of women as soft, kindly, faint and helpless creatures who need protection by men or that women are beautiful creatures who deserve to be enveloped in a bubble wrap, women cannot handle finances or understand sports/ politics, women do not know about cars and affectionately putting them in their place is all common place ! When Margaret Thatcher passed away in 2013 many captions read that she was a better politician than wife and mother ! This is where it all boils down to for women ? Note the date as recent as 2013 !Movies often glamorize and romanticize chivalry and how a man can pursue a woman despite her firm position on not consenting to a relationship, kissing her without her consent to make her fall in love, making sure a woman is safe on a late night ( when HE can walk alone at night), chiding her for staying out late all serve to fortify the stereotypes ! “Women are too classy to be doing that”“You women are way superior to men. Why do you want to be our equal?”“Women are too responsible to be drinking”“ Oh, You know all about sports/cars/politics ! How come?”“Despite being a woman, you did that ! That’s awesome !”“Women are such caring and nurturing souls”“Mothers are godly as they sacrifice their lives for the family !”Can you see the sheer responsibility these statements place on a woman?Benevolent sexism is real. It happens. What more ? Even women are tricked into thinking that it is for their own good. Treating any gender differently purely on basis of their gender is sexism – benevolent or not !

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