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Analyze one of the required readings from this week, but only one of the articles from the 1970’s. There are several on feminism, from different perspectives, as well as one on the Nixon era.To successfully complete this essay, you will need to answer the following questions:Explain the cultural relevance of the article. Who funded this magazine? What are their political biases?What is the main point of the article? What is the writer’s message to his/ her readers?Did the magazine make an impact on popular culture?Your thesis for the essay should attempt to answer this question:Explain the cultural relevance of the article. How did this particular magazine article reflect and/ or attempt to manipulate the cultural values of its audience? How can you prove this? This essay should be 2-3 pages, in APA style, utilizing the college’s library resources. Please include at least one scholarly resource as a minimum in your essay.
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Sex Roles, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1979
A Rose by Any Other Name: Attitudes Toward
Feminism as a Function of Its Label
Marsha B. Jacobson
University of Dayton
Male and female subjects were asked to rate one of the following labels on a
variety of evaluative dimensions: ”equal rights for women” (ERW), ”feminism”
(FEM), “women’s liberation” (WLN) and “women’s lib” (WLB). It was found
that there were differences among the labels, with ERW being the most positively evaluated and WLN being the most negatively evaluated. Furthermore, there
were sex differences on some of the dimensions wherein females made more
favorable evaluations than males. Subjects’ ratings were mixed, being favorable
on some dimensions and unfavorable on others Interpretations and implications
of the results are discussed.
The concept of women’s political, economic, and social rights goes by various
names. The four most common labels for this concept are ”equal rights for women,” “feminism,” “women’slib,” and “women’s liberation.” WhOe the four labels
denote basically the same thing, they do not necessarily connote the same thing,
and as a result people may have differential attitudes toward them.
Consider, for example, the words “steadfast” and “stubborn.” They both
refer to not changing one’s position, but the former is perceived to involve an
element of strength and is seen as a positive quality, while the latter is seen as
being unreasonably unyielding and is considered a negative quality. In the same
vein, “adventurous” and “foolhardy” both denote risk taking, but the former is
seen as being positive because of its association with glamor, while the latter is
viewed in a negative light because it implies imprudence and recklessness. Clearly,
then, concepts that are denotatively similar can be connotatively quite different.
It has been empirically demonstrated that concepts with similar levels of
meaning can take on different meanings by being associated with other concepts
that have a positive or negative affective tone. Staats and Staats (1958) paired
national names (e.g., “Swedish” and “Dutch”) and men’s names (e.g., “Tom”
and “Bill”) with positive words such as “happy,” negative words such as “ugly,”
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366
Jac»bson
and neutral words such as “chair.” They found that names paired with positive
words were rated as being more pleasant than names paired with neutral words;
the latter names, in turn, were rated as being more pleasant than names paired
with negative words.
Similarly, Nunnally, Duchnowski, and Parker (1965) conditioned children’s attitudes toward nonsense syllables through use of a roulette wheel. If
the wheel stopped on one syllable, the child won two pennies, if it stopped on
the second syllable, the child lost one penny, and if it stopped on the third, the
child neither won nor lost. They found that the children most frequently attributed positive qualities to the syllable associated with winning and most frequently attributed negative qualities to the syllable associated with losing.
In a series of papers, Asch (1946, 1948, 1952) has shown that the context
in which a concept is presented affects its meaning. Asch (1946) presented one
group of subjects with a description of a person as being kind, wise, honest,
calm, and strong. Another group was told that the individual was cruel, shrewd,
unscrupulous, calm, and strong. Both groups were asked to write synonyms for
“calm” and “strong.” The subjects given the first description took “calm” to
mean peaceful, gentle, and tolerant, while subjects given the second description
interpreted “calm’ to mean cold, calculating, and conscienceless. Similarly,
subjects given the first description interpreted “strong” to mean just, forceful,
and courageous, while subjects given the second description saw it as meaning
ruthless, overbearing, and overpowering.
Lorge (1936) has shown that a given quotation is more readily agreed with
when it is attributed to a prestigious source than when it is attributed to a less
admired source. Asch (1948) discounts the prestige effect and says instead that
subjects interpret a given quotation differently depending on the author to
whom it is attributed. For example, Asch (1952) presented subjects with the
following quotation used by Lorge: “I hold it that a little rebellion, now and
then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the
physical.” Some subjects were told that it was written by Thomas Jefferson
(who actually did write it) and some that it was written by Lenin. All subjects
were asked to write what the statement meant. Subjects who thought Jefferson
was the author indicated that he was referring to peaceful political changes,
rather than preserving the status quo. On the other hand, subjects who thought
the writer was Lenin assumed that he was referring in general to outright revolution and in particular to the Russian revolution.
In the present study, males and females are asked to rate the concept
of women’s political, economic, and social rights on a variety of evaluative
dimensions. The concept is presented under the four different labels referred to
earlier. Given the experimental findings described above, it is expected that there
will be differences in how the four labels are evaluated by the subjects, although
the author has no a priori basis for predicting the direction of the differences.
Labels for Feminism
367
As for possible sex differences, various authors have found that women
tend to hold more favorable attitudes toward the concept of women’s rights
than men do (e.g.. Albriglit & Chang, 1976; Doyle, 1976; Sarup, 1976; Spence
& Helmreich, 1972). However, in analyzing each of the 55 items that constitute their Attitudes toward Women Scale (AWS), Spence and Helmreich found
that men had more liberal attitudes than women on several of the items. Thus,
it is expected that women will indicate more favorable attitudes toward the concept on some, but not all, of the evauative dimensions.
METHOD
Ovenuew of Design
A 2 X 4 between-subjects factorial design was used, with two levels of Sex
and four levels of Label.
Subjects
Sixty-four males and 64 females served as subjects. They were recruited
from classes in introductory psychology at the University of Dayton as part of
a research participation requirement.
Rating Scale Dimensions
Ten dimensions were chosen as dependent measures. Others could also
have been used, but in the interest of time it was decided to limit the number to
10. The following dimensions were chosen because they seemed relevant to the
concept under study: (1) moderate-radical, (2) friendly-hostile, (3) right-wrong,
(4) objective-biased, (5) rational-irrational, (6) feminine-masculine, (7) peaceable-argumentative, (8) good-bad, (9) warm-cold, and (10) beautiful-ugly.
Each dimension was presented on a 7-point rating scale. It was determined
at random that dimensions 3 , 4 , 8 , and 9 were ordered from positive to negative,
while dimensions 1, 2, 5, 7, and 10 were ordered from negative to positive. It
was also determined at random that the sixth dimension was ordered from
feminine to masculine.
Procedure
The male experimenter told the subjects that the purpose of the study
was to assess their attitudes on ideologies of current interest. Each subject was
368
Jacobson
then given a five-page booklet. On the top of each page was the name of the
ideology to be rated (written in capital letters) and below it were the 10 rating
scales described above. The first (CAPITALISM), second (ASTROLOGY),
fourth (RACISM), and fifth (CHRISTIANITY) ideologies were included as
fillers.
The third page in each booklet referred to the concept under investigation
and was headed by one of the following labels: EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN,
FEMINISM, WOMEN’S LIBERATION, and WOMEN’S LIB. Each label was presented to 16 males and 16 females.
RESULTS
To simplify the presentation, we designate equal rights for women as ERW,
feminism as FEM, women’s liberation as WLN, and women’s lib as WLB.
Table I shows the mean ratings on each dimension by sex and by label.
Given that a rating of 4.00 represents the midpoint of the scale, it appears that,
regardless of sex or label, the subjects have mixed feelings about the concept.
On the one hand, they tend to perceive it as somewhat right, rational, feminine,
good, and beautiful, while on the other hand, they tend to perceive it as somewhat radical, hostile, biased, argumentative and cold.
As expected, there are differences in how favorably the four labels are
evaluated. Analysis of variance shows a significant main effect of Label for
moderate (F(3, 120) = 6.45, p < . 0 1 ) , friendly (F(3, 120) = 3.39, p < . 0 5 ) , right (F(3, 120) = 2.78, p < .05), objective (F(3, 120) = 3.89,p < .05), rational (F(3, 120) = 2.82, p < . 0 5 ) , good (F(3, 120) = 4.04, p < .01), warm (F(3, 120) = 6.19,p < .01), and beautiful (F(3, 120) = 3.82,p < .05). It is interesting that the direction of the differences is always the same. ERW is evaluated most favorably, followed by WLB and FEM, with WLN evaluated most negatively. Analysis of variance also shows a main effect of Sex for right {F{, 120) = 6.67, p < .05), rational (F(l, 120) = 5.72, p < .05) peaceable (F(, 120) = 3.28, p < . 1 0 ) , good (F(, 120) = 3.68, p < . 1 0 ) , and beautiful (F(l, 120) = 5.19, p < .05). The females give the concept higher ratings on right, rational, good, and beautiful, but perceive the concept as being more argumentative than the males do. There were no significant Sex X Label interactions. DISCUSSION While feminism is by no means a new concept, it is currently enjoying a rebirth and thus seems new to those who are unfamiliar with its history. This 369 Labels for Feminism Table I. Mean Ratings of Dimensions by Sex and by Label^ Label Dimension Sex ERW WLB FEM WLN Combined Moderate M F Combined Friendly M F 4.13 3.69 3.91 4.75 3.69 4.22 5.06 5.63 5.34 4.25 3.31 3.78 4.63 5.31 4.97 5.31 4.44 4.88 3.19 2.31 2.75 5.06 5.56 5.31 4.69 4.69 4.69 4.94 4.69 4.81 2.75 3.81 3.28 3.31 4.00 3.66 4.56 5.38 4.97 2.94 3.44 3.19 3.88 4.94 4.41 4.38 4.75 4.56 2.31 2.19 2.25 4.63 5.19 4.91 3.81 4.50 4.16 4.00 4.81 4.41 2.81 3.00 2.91 3.13 3.94 3.53 4.19 5.06 4.63 2.81 3.13 2.97 3.94 4.44 4.19 5.31 4.69 5.00 2.25 2.19 2.22 4.25 4.94 4.59 3.63 3.88 3.75 3.63 4.56 4.09 2.19 2.56 2.38 2.94 3.25 3.09 4.06 4.56 4.31 2.44 2.44 2.44 3.69 4.06 3.88 4.94 4.81 4.88 2.31 1.75 2.03 3.88 4.19 4.03 3.13 3.25 3.19 3.56 4.06 3.81 2.97 3.19 3.12 3.53 3.72 3.63 4.47 5.16 4.81 3.11 3.08 3.09 4.03 4.69 4.36 4.98 4.67 4.83 2.52 2.11 2.31 4.45 4.97 4.71 3.81 4.08 3.95 4.03 4.53 4.28 Combined Right M F Combined Objective M F Combined Rational M F Combined Feminine M F Combined Peaceable M F Combined Good Warm M F Combined M F Combined Beautiful M F Combined higher the rating, the more positive the rating. In the case of feminine-masculine, high ratings indicate femininity. may, in part, account for the subjects' mixed feelings about feminism. That is, they may not know enough about it to form a definite opinion one way or the other. Another possibility is that feminism is a controversial concept, and that subjects have been exposed to conflicting and contradictory information about it; hence, their own mixed feelings. A third possibility is that feminism is not generally perceived as the panacea some of its proponents assume it to be, but is seen as having both strong and weak points. Whatever the case, the subjects neither view the concept through rose-colored glasses nor reject it outright. They see it as being positive in some ways and negative in others. Subjects' attitudes were found to be influenced to a significant degree by the label the concept is given, and these labels seem to operate the same way 370 Jacobson regardless of the dimension; i.e., ERW gets relatively positive ratings, while WLN gets relatively negative ratings. Perhaps ERW is perceived in a relatively favorable liglit because of the word "equal," which connotes fairness, whereas the other three labels may be seen as trying to tip the scales in favor of women. Subjects may also interpret ERW as having relevance only to the law, whereas they most probably perceive the other three terms as being more pervasive and having more of a potential effect on their interpersonal relationships and daily lives. The author's experience has been that most feminists eschew the term "women's liberation" and prefer instead "feminism." It is ironic that neither term was evaluated very positively, although FEM was evaluated somewhat more favorably than WLN. It may simply be that FEM suffers from its suffix; i.e.. words ending in "—ism" sound dogmatic and doctrinaire. As for WLN, it was mentioned earlier that terms can take on meaning through association with other terms. While "liberation" per se possesses a positive affect, it has been associated in recent years with groups that have negative connotations for most Americans, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the North Vietnamese National Liberation Front. A further irony is that WLN and WLB received different ratings, although they are essentially the same term; one is merely a nickname for the other. However, that very fact may have brought about the difference. Nicknames tend to create an aura of familiarity and informality, perhaps even friendliness, so that compared to "women's liberation," "women's Hb" sounds less threatening and militant and more innocuous and cute. While the sex differences were not as consistent as the label differences, females had more positive attitudes toward the concept than males on four dimensions. This suggests that women may see more potential benefit from the concept than men do. However, the females rated the concept as being more argumentative than the males did. This may be because women's existing attitudes and values regarding sex roles are more often challenged and questioned by their peers, professors, and the media than those of the males, causing females to be somewhat defensive. In sum, then, it is no wonder that so much controversy surrounds the concept of women's political, economic, and social rights when differential attitudes occur within the individual, between individuals, and as a function of the label the individual uses in reference to the concept. The present results suggest that proponents of women's rights who wish to gain more support for their position would do well to stress the equality aspect of the concept in their public appearances and, not unrelatedly, to emphasize the relevance of the concept and its potential benefits to men. The results also suggest that proponents of the concept attempt to alter their public image so as not to appear as radical, hostile, etc. The author has observed that the mass media often (if not usually) refer to the concept as "women's liberation." The results show that this label consistent- Labels for Feminism 371 ly receives the most negative evaluations. Therefore, the media may be engendering negative attitudes toward the concept in the general population through the use of that term. (Of course, the subjects may also have had negative feelings about the concept and rated WLN unfavorably because it is the term they most often hear used in reference to the concept; i.e., they perceive WLN to be the concept's rightful name.) In deference to the wishes of Blacks and Chicanos, the media (for the most part) no longer refer to them as Negroes and Mexicans, and that is as it should be. However, the question arises why the mass media do not generally use the term "feminists" when the individuals to whom the term applies seem to prefer it to other terms more commonly in use. REFERENCES Albright, D. G., & Chang, A. F. An examination of how one's attitudes towaid women aie reflected in one's defensiveness and self-esteem. Sex Roles. 1976, 2, 195-198. Asch, S. E. Forming impressions of personality. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1946,-/;. 2^8-290. Asch. S. E. The doctrine of suggestion, prestige and imitation in social psychology. Psychological Review, 1948,-55.250-277. Asch, S. E. Social psychology. Englewood Qiffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1952. Doyle, J. A. Attitudes toward feminism - forty years later. Sex Roles, 1976, 2. 399-400. Lorge, I. Prestige, suggestion ^nd ^WiXxxdes. Journal of Social Psychology, 1936, 7. 386-402. Nunnally, J. C, Duchnowski, A. J., & Parker, R. K. Association of neutral objects with rewards; Effects on verbal evaluation, reward expectancy, and selective attention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965, 1, 270-274. Sarup, G. Gender, authoritarianism, and attitudes toward feminism. Social Behavior and Personality, 1976,4. 57-64. Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. The Attitudes toward Women Scale: An objective instrument to measure attitudes towaid the rights and roles of women in contemporary societ> JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 1972, 2, 66. (Ms. No.
153)
Staats, A. W., & Staats, C. K. Attitudes established by classical conditioning. Journal of
Abnormal and Social Psychology. 1958,57, 37^0.

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