Protecting the Ladies: Benevolent Sexism, Heteronormativity, and Partisanship in Online Discussions of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Lindsey Erin Blumell, Jennifer Huemmer, Miglena Sternadori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recent adoption of bathroom bills restricting trans* people’s access to public bathrooms of their choice in the United States has elicited a vigorous public debate invoking benevolent sexism, heteronormativity, and partisanship. This analysis includes 9,764 online comments posted on the 13 most-shared articles or blog posts about trans* bathroom accommodation from September 2015 to September 2016. The common themes in such discussions were arguments promoting benevolent sexism, including that women and girls need protection by men and from men and that sex differences are natural. Results showed that support for trans* access to public bathrooms was most prevalent in discussions on left-leaning sites, whereas opposition was most prevalent in discussions on right-leaning sites. Most, but not all, benevolent-sexism themes were prevalent in comments on right-leaning sites. The results are discussed in the context of their theoretical implications for the literature of benevolent sexism and heteronormativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-388
Number of pages24
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2019

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