Be honest: we all love the sexist alpha male
Many women will tell you that one of the most irritating things about life is that alpha males - great silverbacked gorilla types - strike us, maddeningly, as being rather more attractive than their kinder, gentler, more considerate dwarf-monkey counterparts. We know intellectually that it shouldn’t be so, since the gorillas are often sexist pigs (just to mix the animal metaphors); but when push comes to shove and we’re picking a boyfriend rather than a friend, few of us find beta males especially appealing.
In real life as in Georgette Heyer, the reprehensible, oddly sexy brute fares rather better than the sensitive flower. Now it turns out that the unreconstituted, sexist male chauvinist is not only more attractive to many women, but earns more money and is more professionally successful than the kind man who sympathises when you have period cramps and offers to make you a nice cup of camomile. Not fair, is it?
The Journal of Applied Psychology has just published findings from a University of Florida study based on interviews with more than 12,000 men and women. Between 1979 and 2005, they were questioned regularly about how they viewed male and female roles - whether they believed a woman’s place was in the home, whether employing women led to more juvenile delinquency(!) and whether it was the woman’s job to take care of the home and family.
Sexist men, the scientists found, made an average of $8,500 (£4,600) a year more than men who viewed women as work-place equals. Meanwhile, feminists earned more than their more traditionally minded female colleagues (but not a great deal more - £800 a year, on average). And while there was only a small difference between the pay packets of “egalitarian” men and women, sexist men’s wages outstripped everyone else’s.
Surprised? Me neither. It’s one of those stories that, even without being corroborated by the figures, has the horrible ring of truth about it: we’ve all worked in an office where the sexist monster is (a) very good at his job and (b) gruesomely and guilt-inducingly attractive despite his antediluvian attitudes.
The existence of such men is why sexism persists: it is obviously wrong on every level, as many an industrial tribunal will attest, but the combination of power and, shall we say, lack of political correctness can be a potent one.....