Sexism’s Feminine Rebrand: How Polarity Doctrine Sells Repackaged Patriarchy in the Form of Benevolent Sexism

Most people I talk to about the divine feminine realm on Instagram are all aware that there’s something off about it, but they aren’t totally sure how to articulate it. There’s a name for the thing you’re seeing and feeling and today we’re going to talk about it.

In 1996, social scientist Peter Glick and psychologist Susan Fiske – both experts in stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and bias – wrote a paper on the concept of ambivalent sexism. In their paper, they noted that despite what most people think, there are actually two different kinds of sexist attitudes and behavior. The one most people associate with sexism – angry, explicitly negative attitudes towards women – they termed “hostile sexism,”  However, there is a more subtle, veiled type of sexism noted by the authors which they coined benevolent sexism.

What is benevolent sexism?

Benevolent sexism refers to attitudes about women that seem positive in tone (e.g. women should be cherished) but nonetheless connote inferiority to men based on fragility, lack of competence, or need of help and protection.


– Glick, P., & Fiske, S. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70 (3), 491-512, Science Direct

According to ambivalent sexism theory, benevolent sexism consists of three interrelated subcomponents:

#1: Complementary Gender Differentiation: The belief that men and women are biologically different and complementary, thus valuing feminine-stereotyped attributes in females (e.g., nurturance) and a belief that traditional gender roles are necessary to complement one another.


#2: Protective Paternalism: The belief that men are responsible for and should protect women (an example of valuing masculine-stereotyped attributes in males).


#3: Men’s personal lives – emotional and sexual fulfillment – depend on women and romanticizes women as objects of affection and valued romantic partners. (heterosexual intimacy)

Oh hey,  wait a minute… doesn’t all of this sound very familiar?

Learn how patriarchy shows up in spirituality.

It probably does, because benevolent sexism is the underlying prejudice behind of many posts written by influencers and coaches in neotantra, polarity, feminine energetics, priestess, “wombmen,” and relationships spaces on the internet.

“Feminism that encourages women to operate like men isn’t feminism. Being equal doesn’t mean being the same.” 


“The repetitive work weeks are all designed for the male hormonal rhythms.”


“I am grateful for the women who fought for our freedom but what we are experiencing now is a divorce from nature.”


“If feminism isn’t feminine in nature, I don’t want it.”


“Women can do anything men can do, but why would we want to?”

The underlying fundamental belief here: men and women are biologically different and complementary, valuing feminine-stereotyped attributes in females (e.g., nurturance), both aspects of component #1 of benevolent sexism theory.

“It’s the masculine’s duty to protect and cherish his feminine partner so that she feels safe.”

The underlying fundamental belief here: men are responsible for and should protect women, a component of protective paternalism, an aspect of component #2 of benevolent sexism theory.

Benevolent Sexism is Inherently Anti-Feminist

People in these spaces typically believe that their teachings are doing women a favor. They think they are actually advocating for the benefit of women when they make these claims, but the research tells a different story:

“We do not consider benevolent sexism a good thing… its underpinnings lie in traditional stereotyping and masculine dominance (e.g., the man as the provider and woman as his dependent), and its consequences are often damaging.” – Glick & Fiske

Benevolent sexism contributes to gender inequality by limiting women’s roles and self-expression. Thus, under benevolent sexism, girls and women are punished for violating traditional gender norms and are reinforced for adopting traditional roles. Women don’t have to be directly punished for this, though. It’s reinforced when we, as a society, position feminine stereotypes as the ideal way to express ourselves, such as occurs with most divine feminine influencers.

Learn more about what the divine feminine actually is and how these influencers get it wrong.

So what happens when we have influencers with millions of followers sharing benevolent sexist ideologies masked as self help?

Glick and Fiske’s research found that benevolent sexism was a significant predictor of nationwide gender inequality, independent of the effects of hostile sexism.

In countries where the men were more likely to endorse benevolent sexism, even when controlling for hostile sexism, women also didn’t live as long, were less educated, had lower literacy rates, made significantly less money, and less actively participated in the political and economic spheres than their male counterparts

Benevolent sexism comes at a cost, which is actual, objective gender equality.

A paper published in 2011 by psychology researchers Julia Becker and Stephen Wright detailed the insidious ways that benevolent sexism harms both women and social activism.

They found that women who were exposed to benevolent sexism were more likely to think that there are many advantages to being a woman and were also more likely to engage in system justification, a process by which people justify the status quo and believe that there are no longer problems facing disadvantaged groups (such as women) in modern day society.


As a result, these women were less willing to engage in anti-sexist collective action, such as signing a petition, participating in a rally, or generally “acting against sexism.” Furthermore, women who were exposed to hostile sexism actually displayed the opposite effect – they were more likely to intend to engage in collective action, and more willing to fight against sexism in their everyday lives.


– Becker, J., & Wright, S. (2011). Yet another dark side of chivalry: Benevolent sexism undermines and hostile sexism motivates collective action for social change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101 (1), 62-77 Science Direct

Out in polarity world, some take it even further: they attribute any problems they still experience to feminism – the very movement that’s attempting to earn them equality in the first place – and openly advocate against it.

This isn’t just a group of individuals expressing their views on their personal account. These are people with large platforms and influence who are indoctrinating their followers into destructive patriarchal belief systems that result in their own systemic self-harm and contribute to social inequality under the guise of self-help.

Is anything about polarity doctrine valid?

Every great piece of propaganda is littered with grains of truth, they’re just twisted and inverted to suite a specific agenda.

To be sure, there are indeed “healthy” contexts in which aspects of these sentiments are true, but they key difference is that those contexts aren’t tied to the individual’s gender, they’re tied to relational dynamics between partners of any gender and sexual orientation.

It’s the conflation of these as being inherently fundamental to biological male/female relational dynamics – as divine masculine/feminine influencers often do – that makes them sexist. Let’s look at how they could be reframed in non-sexist ways:

#1: Men are responsible for and should protect women (protective paternalism)

Men aren’t responsible for protecting women from other men, they’re responsible for protecting women from themselves (considering that women are statistically most likely to be murdered by their romantic partners). If all men focused on protecting women from themselves, there would be no reason for women to need protection from other men in the first place.

In general, all intimate relationships thrive when partners co-regulate and strive to create emotional and physical safety within the scope of the partnership. The “job” of creating emotional safety does not fall on one partner, much less only the male partner.

#2: Men and women are biologically different and complementary (complementary gender differentiation)

Relationship roles can be fundamentally different and complementary, and those roles can be filled by someone of any gender. Stay-at-home dads are just as valid as stay-at-home moms. Some men enjoy cooking while some women don’t. Your role in the relationship should revolve around what works best for your partnership on the whole, not what gender stereotypes dictate.

#3: Men’s personal lives – emotional and sexual fulfillment – depend on women and romanticizes women as objects of affection and valued romantic partners. (heterosexual intimacy)

All people – including men – have emotional and physical needs for intimacy. Our relationship partners are typically the source of fulfillment of those needs. Women have the same needs as men. None of our partners exist solely to fulfill our needs. Healthy relationships are an agreement of mutuality.

This is the problem which is inherent in cultural appropriation. When white people co-opt a spiritual practice from another culture and filter it through their Westernized, patriarchal lens, they distort the teachings from their origins due to their patriarchal biases around gender, which is a social construct.

God/Source/Universe has no gender. Neither does the divine masculine and feminine. 

Thanks for being here,



Enjoy this post? Subscribe to get ass-kicking inspiration delivered to your inbox.


If you benefit from the free educational content I provide and would like to further support my ability to provide these resources, you can purchase a business consultation, or make a donation:


Venmo: @akk4zd