Hostile sexism is basically what it sounds like — aggressive, explicit, sometimes violent misogyny couched in the belief that men and women are locked in some sort of perpetual, zero-sum conflict. In this view, women are always trying to get one over on men, trying to snake their way into special treatment and advantages. Glick and Fiske have developed survey questions to measure individuals’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism, and those who rank high on the hostile variety agree with statements like “Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them,” or “Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor them over men, under the guise of asking for ‘equality.’”
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Benevolent sexism is different. Benevolent sexists endorse a paternalistic view of the world in which women are to be cherished and protected, in part because they aren’t quite equal to men. Oftentimes, seemingly positive sentiments about women are manifestations of benevolent sexism. People who score high on this measure agree with statements like “No matter how accomplished he is, a man is not truly complete as a person unless he has the love of a woman,” “A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man,” and “Men should be willing to sacrifice their own well being in order to provide financially for the women in their lives.” A good example of benevolent sexism? All those GOP tweets following Trump’s Access Hollywood tape about “wives and daughters” (with, to be fair, plenty of progressive ones sprinkled in as well).
Glick explained that the overarching theory here is that benevolent sexism evolved culturally as a way to maintain the gender hierarchy while also allowing men to enjoy close companionship with women, consensual sex, and so on. In other words: If you adopt the stance that part of your role is to protect your wife or girlfriend and to be made better by her goodness, then you get those aforementioned perks, without losing your place in the gender hierarchy. “You’re the knight in shining armor, you’re Prince Charming — rather than, ‘You’re the oppressor,’” said Glick. (Source)