It’s His Right, It’s Her Duty: Benevolent Sexism and the Justification of Traditional Sexual Roles-Journal Article Critique

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In contemporary society, the word sexism is synonymous to prejudice that is directed towards women, and which, to a larger extent, is attended by hostility. In other words, sexism carries a negative connotation, especially in today’s world which is characterized by the rise of feminism. It is however noted that this notion of sexism as a negative attitude towards women has been challenged by scholars within the same field.

Recent thinking on sexism, buttressed by empirical research, has suggested that hostility towards women is not the only manifestation of sexism in the society. This is given the fact that this concept is seen to exist alongside heterosexual intimacy and the interdependence among the two genders. As such, it can be argued that it is erroneous to conceptualize sexism as a universally hostile phenomenon. This is given the fact that, as the arguments above have indicated, it might also have a benevolent dimension to it.

The existence of hostile sexism and benevolent sexism as two interrelated and interdependent phenomena is the backdrop against which three scholars carried out a study within the human sexuality field. In this paper, this researcher is going to critique the journal article that reports the findings of the study by these three academicians.

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Article Reference

As earlier indicated above, this article reports that findings of a study that was conducted by three scholars. These were Duran Mercedes, Moya Miguel and Megias Jesus L. The article is titled It’s his right, it’s her duty: Benevolent sexism and the justification of traditional sexual roles, and it is 20 pages long.

However, it is important to note at this juncture that the findings of the study (or the study itself) occupy only 12 pages of the article. The other 8 pages are taken up by the appendix (where the questionnaire used for the study and the statistical findings are appended), references and information regarding the authors and the location of the article on the website.

This article was published in the Journal of Sex Research, September- October 2011 issue. This is an indication of the fact that it is a fairly recent study, and as such, it is likely to reflect some of the recent developments in this field.

Brief Summary of the Article

In this summary, several aspects of the article will be analyzed. This includes the purpose or objective of the authors, the hypothesis or themes of the article, methodology used to collect data, results that were made and conclusions that were drawn.

Purpose of the Study

On the first page of the article, Duran, Moya & Megias (1) provide the reader with the purpose of the study that they conducted. They are of the view that one major purpose of the study was to analyze how sentiments regarding husbands’ marital rights and wives’ marital duties as far as sex is concerned are affected by individual’s sexist ideology and knowledge regarding the husband’s sexist ideology.

The study was also aimed at analyzing how the variables identified above affected individual’s perception of a “hypothetical sexual penetration as rape” (p. 1). At the end of the study, the three scholars aimed at providing insight on the effects of sexist ideology as far as marital rape is concerned.

Hypothesis of the Study

This study had several hypotheses, which the authors expected to be supported or refuted by the findings. The first hypothesis was that, when participants are exposed to a husband of benevolent sexism, their perception of his marital rights and his wife’s marital duties would be enhanced (Duran et al 5). The participant’s perception of sexual aggression from the husband in such a scenario as rape was also expected to be decreased. This is as opposed to those participants exposed to the control husband.

The second hypothesis was that those subjects who scored high on benevolent sexism and hostile sexism were more likely to believe that the husband is entitled to marital rights, while the wife is obliged to adhere to the marital duties. This is in order to meet the sexual needs of the husband. These subjects were also expected to be less likely to consider forced penetration by the husband as rape.

The third hypothesis expected to establish a link between the subject’s sexism and the information that they had regarding the sexism of the husband. The fourth hypothesis assumed that the subject’s belief that sex is a husband’s marital right and a marital duty on the part of the wife would influence the subject’s benevolent sexism and their perception of forced penetration by the husband as rape.


The study used a sample of seventy five university students drawn from the Labor Studies’ Department. These included 36 males and 39 females, and Spain’s University of Granada was used as the population. The scholars used a questionnaire to collect information, making this a quantitative survey.

In the questionnaire, the students were provided with scenarios of either a benevolent sexism husband or an ambiguous sexism husband, and his marital relationship with his wife. After the students were presented with the vignettes depicting these situations, they were then required to react to statements based on the same on a Likert scale.


The main hypotheses of the study were tested using hierarchical regression analyses. The first hypothesis tested as true, given that husband’s beliefs affected the subject’s perception of marital rights and duties, as well as the subject’s perception of forcible penetration by the husband as rape (Duran et al 8).

A benevolent sexist husband was believed to have more marital rights while the wife was believed to have more marital duties to sate the sexual urges of her man. It was also found that the subject’s benevolent sexism attitudes influenced their beliefs on marital rights and duties. As far as the third hypothesis is concerned, the researchers found that there was a link between the subject’s benevolent sexism and benevolent sexism of the husband. This is taking marital duties and marital rights as variables.


The scholars concluded that benevolent sexist beliefs increase considerations of marital rights and duties as far as sex is concerned. This means that when individuals in the society hold benevolent sexist beliefs, putting women on pedestals, they are less likely to regard forced sexual intercourse as real rape.

Assessment and Critique of the Study

As already indicated in this paper, this study is a recent one, and as such, it is expected that it is a reflection of recent developments in the field of human sexuality. This is one of the strengths that can be cited for this study. Duran and colleagues also carried out a detailed research, and this is another strength that can be cited. A detailed literature review is presented in the article.

The literature review helps in contextualizing and locating the current study within the larger field of human sexual health. The review also explains in detail, for example, what sexist ideology is, as well as other aspects such as ambivalent sexism and gender inequality. The study also cites the findings of other studies that have been conducted in the past in this study. This is an indication of the fact that the researchers made efforts to relate their current study with those that have been conducted in the past.

However, there are several aspects that make this article hard to read and understand, especially to a layman. For example, the three scholars seem to prefer the use of long sentences, compound sentences with more than one idea presented therein. This makes it hard for the reader to keep track of the thoughts of the scholars as presented in the article.

It is also hard to generalize the study to the larger society. This is given the fact the average age of the participants was low. For example, the average age of the male participants was 20.6 years, while that of the females was 19.8 years, meaning that the results may not be generalized to older populations of the society.

The Influence that the Article had on my Knowledge and Thinking about Human Sexuality and Sexuality Education

This article has really influenced my knowledge regarding human sexuality and sexuality education in general. For example, my knowledge on sexist ideology has been expanded by this article. Before I read the article, I was not aware of the differences between benevolent sexism and hostile sexism, but this article made them clear to me. The study also gave me an insight on the connection between the two forms of sexism ideologies.

Before I read the article, I was also not grounded on the effects that benevolent sexism has on marital rights and marital duties. In fact, I must admit that, like a layman, I was not aware of the negative effects that benevolent sexism, or the positive dimension of sexist ideology, might have on the society. In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge that, despite the various limitations as highlighted above, this article is insightful as far as human sexuality and sexuality education is concerned.

Works Cited

Duran, Mercedes, Moya, Miguel & Megias, Jesus L. It’s His Right, It’s Her Duty: Benevolent Sexism and the Justification of Traditional Sexual Roles. Journal of Sex Research, September-October, 2011.

Categories: Feminism


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