Benevolent sexism frightens me. We see it everywhere, but its non-hostile nature tends to throws people off. It may be difficult to even register amongst the shitstorm of very obvious misogyny that surrounds us. The consensus seems to be that if someone is well-intentioned (if misguided) then we can’t blame them for their opinions, right? Well, no. The women-hating assholes out there may be the biggest bigots, but believing women to be fairy butterfly flower princesses who need their innocence protected by the strong arms of a man is just as oppressive.
Polarised sexist views can be revealed by examining a person’s attitude to women and sex. One party may label a woman who has casual sex as a slut. Another may view this as a woman’s purity being violated by men who take advantage of the naivety of a girl eager to please. It may go as far as believing the woman is psychologically damaged and exhibiting a self-destructive streak, and being used in the process. Either way, it boils down to the fact that to either form of sexist, it’s simply unfeasible that a woman can enjoy sex or detach it from emotion.
Respect towards women does not begin with infantilising them, putting them on a pedestal or believing that they don’t have to work (but awwww how cute if they do!) Somewhere, something is going very wrong if people view women as a separate species, who think or behave in a specific way and therefore must live in a separate sphere to men and be treated as such.