Men Who Smile At Women Are Sexist, Says Science

Photo: Megan Mahoney Photography / Shutterstock
smiling guy in backwards hat

Gentlemen, let's take a quick and easy quiz, shall we?

  • Q: You should hold a door for a woman. (True/False)
  • Q: If your woman looks cold, offer her your jacket. (True/False)
  • Q: A good man will sacrifice himself to save and protect a woman. (True/False)

If you answered true to one or more of these, I have bad news for you.

According to a 2015 study done by psychologists Jin Goh and Judith Hall of Northeastern University, gestures like the ones above mean you're a "Benevolent Sexist."

The study examined the social interaction of 27 pairs of American undergraduate women and men, first while playing a trivia game and then chatting together. Observers analyzed their interactions and counted non-verbal cues, such as smiles. (Yes, gentlemen, smiles. They, too, apparently indicate benevolent sexism.)

"Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep's clothing," states Hall, "that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women at an interpersonal level," stated Hall. "These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing, and harmless."

I have three words for these researchers — stop the madness.

RELATED: 4 Big Mistakes You Make When Reading Someone's Body Language

RELATED: 7 Body Language Clues That Reveal A Guy's True Feelings For You

The difference between 'sexism' and chivalry

Benevolent sexism? If you ask me, everything on their list of so-called "benevolent sexism" has been on my chivalry list since ... forever. Along with refusing to split the bill or holding an umbrella above a woman when it rains — the list goes on and on.

However, here is some good news for researchers, vis-à-vis me: Calling women "love" or "dear" made the "benevolent sexism" list, according to the Daily Mail report. In my book, that goes straight to the "Hostile Sexism" section. Unless you're 94, calling any woman "hun" or "sweetheart" is condescending and just plain creepy.

On the other hand, here is some good news for you, gentlemen. On any given day, I would assume that if you enjoy perusing a topless calendar, you're a "hostile sexist," as the same list claims.

Here's a piece of news from the real world for the researchers: Since ancient times, the human body was an object of admiration and veneration.

I've been known to admire a few of New York's Bravest calendar spreads myself, but does that make me a sexist? I opt for "healthy sexual human being" instead.

RELATED: 17 Types Of Smiles — And What Yours Means

A different interpretation of gentlemanly behavior

Here is another "shocking" observation researchers made: "Scientists found that the more hostile sexist participants were perceived as less approachable and friendly in their speech and smiled less during the interaction.

In turn, those who displayed benevolent sexism were considered more approachable, warmer, friendlier, and more likely to smile. They also used more positive emotional words and were overall more patient while waiting for a woman to answer trivia questions."

Apparently, these researchers have just found out what we have known all along — women prefer gentlemen. What a shocker! I wonder how much it cost the university to conduct this revolutionary experiment.

RELATED: 10 Sweet Signs A Guy Likes You As More Than A Friend

Chivalry and feminism are compatible

Here is a dose of reality.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe in women's equality in the workplace and at home. I believe that every woman should have financial and emotional independence.

However, I also believe that a woman should remain a woman, with all the implications that come with it — being feminine, flirtatious, womanly, and (instead of veiling it), celebrating her femininity.

Being accepted in society as an equal should never require a woman to shed her womanhood. Worse, there is no reason to blame her femininity as being the cause of men's sexism and cultural inequality.

"Benevolent sexism" my butt! I think a bunch of indolent miserly menfolk who just don't know what to do with a woman if one falls into their laps coined that term. It is a lot easier to blame women's rejection on silly "scientific" research than on lack of chivalry, or understanding of the same.

RELATED: 5 Subtle Body Language Clues That Hint He's Into You

The way to a woman's heart

In the real world, no matter how educated and independent a woman is, it's an act of chivalry that will melt her heart — not a display of indifference.

Want to discuss the role of women in U.S. politics with your date? Sure, go right ahead. But, hail a cab and hold a door for her first and watch how much more pleasant that conversation will be.

Even the most financially independent woman will appreciate you paying for dinner. She may later wish to buy you a gift that's worth five times more than that dinner, but a little gesture of chivalry will ensure a relationship.

"US researchers argue that while women may enjoy being showered with attention, benevolent sexism is 'insidious' and men who are guilty of it see women as incompetent beings who require their 'cherished protection'."

Who labels chivalry as "benevolent sexism?" Who decided that chivalrous men are "insidious" and see women as "incompetent?" I don't know a single man who, when helping a woman get her luggage from an overhead bin of an airplane, is doing it because he thinks she is totally incompetent to get her own bag.

He does it because his mother taught him right.

RELATED: The 4 Types Of Profile Smiles That Get Women More Dates With Men, Study Says

Let (good) men be good men

Let's face facts: women are usually not as physically strong as men. Are we now to label all men as sexist for merely being men?

Just imagine for a second a world where chivalry doesn't exist. In that world, everyone fetches only for himself. Everyone speaks at the same time, no one is exempt from a bar scuffle, and revolving doors are consistently stuck as a result of men and women rushing in at the same time.

I don't want to live in that world. I don't want to live in a world where a mere smile gets you labeled a sexist. I don't want to live in a world where there is no courtship or romance; a world where a man cannot present a woman with flowers without fear of being labeled an insidious sexist.

I'm sticking with chivalry. Gentlemen, for those of you looking for love, as well as for those of you that already found it and want to safeguard it, I recommend doing the same. Stick with chivalry. Leave it to "scientists" to stick outlandish labels on meaningless gestures.

RELATED: 15 Ways Guys Say 'I Love You' Without Ever Saying A Word

Marina Margulis is a writer and matchmaker who believes dating should be easy and natural.