Joanne Bagshaw Ph.D.

The Third Wave

Narcissism, Sexism & Entitlement

Why are women voting for Trump?

Posted Oct 23, 2016

Despite many allegations of sexual assault (including a released taped confession of predatory behavior), years of degrading and sexist remarks about women, and a platform that is not in the interest of women’s rights, some women still support Donald Trump for president.

Currently #WomenwhoVoteTrump and #TrumpGirlsBreakTheInternet are trending on social media. Some women posting under #WomenWhoVoteTrump also posted under #Repealthe19th (apparently missing the irony that if the 19th amendment were repealed, they couldn’t vote for anyone, even Trump).

Some women participating in this social media conversation claim that they are “sick of liars” and want “a ‘MAN' willing to take on the establishment”. Others identify themselves as strong, independent, and educated. And other women identify as one of the #BabesForTrump. Many of the social media postings and pictures illustrate beliefs in strict and traditional gender roles between men and women. If you haven’t checked out these hashtags, I suggest you do so…they’re enlightening.

Why would a woman support and vote for a candidate who runs against her self-interest? How does research explain this particular subgroup of women?

Entitlement is linked to sexism in both men and women. For men, entitlement is a consistent predictor of hostile sexism (Grubss, Exline & Twenge, 2014). Hostile sexism is expressed through aggressive attitudes towards women who challenge male domination (Glick & Fiske, 1996). But for women, entitlement is linked to benevolent sexism, which is expressed as positive, reverent attitudes towards women (Glick & Fiske,1996). Benevolent sexism is enticing to women who consider being revered as a benefit of strict gender roles. These women expect and demand that men take care of them. The more entitled a woman feels, the more likely she is to support benevolent sexism (Hammond, Sibley & Overall, 2014). 

Participating in benevolent sexism is like a tacit agreement. Women who support male power receive incentives to participate in a patriarchal system through being treated with honor and high regard, as if on a pedestal (Glicke & Fiske, 1996). This special treatment legitimizes the privilege that some women feel entitled to, while also legitimizing male domination. 

Entitlement is a key factor that links narcissism with sexism (Grubbs, Exline, Twenge, 2014). Research shows us that it’s not just narcissistic men who feel entitled— narcissistic women benefit from benevolent sexism because it makes them feel special. Ironically, men don’t seem to receive direct benefits from benevolent sexist behavior. Being chivalrous, a protector, and family bread winner doesn’t necessarily give men superiority at home, but instead helps to maintain men’s access to power and resources (Glicke & Fiske,1996). 

Conversely, women who agree with benevolent sexism may feel special and entitled, but the effects on women are insidious. Benevolent sexism can lower perceptions of competence in women create self-doubt and justify hostile sexism. Benevolent sexism also negatively affects women’s cardiovascular system. And countries with more benevolent sexism have more hostile sexism, a telling sign of the impact of putting women on pedestals.

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Hammond, M., Sibley, C. G., & Overall, N. O. (2014). The allure of sexism: psychological entitlement fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychology and Personality Science, 5, 421-428.

Glick P, Fiske ST. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 70:491–512. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.491

Grubbs, J.B., Exline, J.J. & Twenge, (2014). Psychological entitlement and ambivalent sexism: Understanding the role of entitlement in predicting two forms of sexism.  J.M. Sex Roles 70: 209. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0360-1