Society & Culture - Posted by Keith Randall-Texas A&M on Thursday, August 2, 2012 11:55 - 3 Comments
Hearing a woman insulted, neither gender steps in
TEXAS A&M (US) — A new study shows that neither gender tends to step in when observing or reading about a man disparaging a woman.
Texas A&M University researchers George Cunningham, affiliated with the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport in the department of health and kinesiology, and Kathi Miner, a psychologist in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, along with Claudia Benavides-Espinoza of Arkansas State University, examined the reactions of women and men who observe misogyny.
Straight from the Source
Their findings appear in the current issue of the journal Sex Roles.
The team observed the attitudes and reactions of 205 college-age students when confronted with disparaging remarks made about women. In one setting, participants read about a scenario and were asked to respond how they thought they would react.
In the second, participants actually observed two men disparaging a woman, and the researchers documented their reactions. The authors say that in most situations, the reactions of men were surprisingly consistent—they had little reaction at all.
Women, the study shows, tended to be upset about the situation when they read about it, or when it was hypothetical in nature, but, women who actually observed the incivility were hardly impacted and had reactions similar to those of men.
“It shows that women and men tend to react differently when thinking about how they would respond to negative comments made about a female,” Cunningham explains. “But when actually observing it, they respond in quite similar manners.”
“The bottom line is that in such a situation, men tend to be very passive—they say or do very little about what is happening. On the other hand, women tend to get more upset when thinking about uncivil behavior directed toward other women, but few actually do anything about it.”
Cunningham says that if both men and women were told about such a situation, most would say they would be offended and they would try to intervene. “But would they really? The study shows neither would likely get involved.”
The team examined political leanings of the study group and found that the leanings of those that called themselves liberals or conservatives had no impact on their reactions. However, women in the study who labeled themselves as being somewhat or strongly religious reacted more strongly to the situation.
“We found that religious views most definitely played a role in how women would react,” he adds.
Cunningham says the study shows that “even though people say they might respond or even step in when witnessing negative behavior toward women, very few would actually do anything.
“People tend to ignore it and just go on with their lives. The study might help people recognize that when uncivil behavior is taking place, there are steps you can take to be of help, and you can let others know such behavior is not acceptable.”
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