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Essay On Chauvinism

Chauvinism is a form of extreme patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. Whereas patriotism and nationalism may represent temperate pride, chauvinism is intemperate. It can be also defined as "an irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one's own group or people".[1] Moreover, the chauvinist's own people are seen as unique and special while the rest of the people are considered weak or inferior.[1]

According to legend, French soldier Nicolas Chauvin was badly wounded in the Napoleonic wars. He received a pension for his injuries but it was not enough to live on. After Napoleon abdicated, Chauvin was a fanatical Bonapartist despite the unpopularity of this view in Bourbon Restoration France. His single-minded blind devotion to his cause, despite neglect by his faction and harassment by its enemies, started the use of the term.[2]

Chauvinism has extended from its original use to include fanatical devotion and undue partiality to any group or cause to which one belongs, especially when such partisanship includes prejudice against or hostility toward outsiders or rival groups and persists even in the face of overwhelming opposition.[2][3][4] This French quality finds its parallel in the British term jingoism, which has retained the meaning of chauvinism strictly in its original sense; that is, an attitude of belligerent nationalism.[4][5][6]

In modern English, the word has come to be used in some quarters as shorthand for male chauvinism, a trend reflected in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, which begins its third example of use of the term chauvinism with "an attitude that the members of your own sex are always better than those of the opposite sex".[3][7][8]

As nationalism[edit]

In 1945, political theorist Hannah Arendt described the concept thus:

Chauvinism is an almost natural product of the national concept in so far as it springs directly from the old idea of the "national mission." ... [A] nation's mission might be interpreted precisely as bringing its light to other, less fortunate peoples that, for whatever reason, have miraculously been left by history without a national mission. As long as this concept did not develop into the ideology of chauvinism and remained in the rather vague realm of national or even nationalistic pride, it frequently resulted in a high sense of responsibility for the welfare of backward people.[9]

Male chauvinism[edit]

See also: sexism, androcentrism, machismo, patriarchy, masculism, and feminism

Male chauvinism is the belief that men are superior to women. The first documented use of the phrase "male chauvinism" is in the 1935 Clifford Odets play Till the Day I Die.[10]

In the workplace[edit]

The balance of the workforce changed during World War II through the dramatic rise of women’s participation as men left their positions to enlist in the military and fight in the war. After the war ended and men returned home to find jobs in the workplace, male chauvinism was on the rise, according to Cynthia B. Lloyd. Previously, men had been the main source of labour, and they expected to come back to their previous employment, but women had stepped into many of their positions to fill the void, says Lloyd.[11]

Lloyd and Michael Korda have argued that as they integrated back into the workforce, men returned to predominantly holding positions of power, and women worked as their secretaries, usually typing dictations and answering telephone calls. This division of labor was understood and expected, and women typically felt unable to challenge their position or male superiors, argue Korda and Lloyd.[11][12]


Chauvinism is seen by some as an influential factor in the TAT, a psychological personality test. Through cross-examinations, the TAT exhibits a tendency toward chauvinistic stimuli for its questions and has the "potential for unfavorable clinical evaluation" for women.[13]

An often cited study done in 1976 by Sherwyn Woods, Some Dynamics of Male Chauvinism, attempts to find the underlying causes of male chauvinism.

Male chauvinism was studied in the psychoanalytic therapy of 11 men. It refers to the maintenance of fixed beliefs and attitudes of male superiority, associated with overt or covert depreciation of women. Challenging chauvinist attitudes often results in anxiety or other symptoms. It is frequently not investigated in psychotherapy because it is ego-syntonic, parallels cultural attitudes, and because therapists often share similar bias or neurotic conflict. Male chauvinism was found to represent an attempt to ward off anxiety and shame arising from one or more of three main prime sources: unresolved infantile strivings and regressive wishes, hostile envy of women and power and dependency conflicts related to masculine self-esteem. Mothers were more important than fathers in the development of male chauvinism, and resolution was sometimes associated with decompensation in wives.[14]

Female chauvinism[edit]

See also: misandry and feminism

The term female chauvinism has been adopted by critics of some types or aspects of feminism; second-wave feminist Betty Friedan is a notable example.[15]Ariel Levy used the term in similar, but opposite sense in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she argues that many young women in the United States and beyond are replicating male chauvinism and older misogyniststereotypes.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abMacmillan., Palgrave (2015). Global politics. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137349262. OCLC 979008143. 
  2. ^ ab"Chauvinism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  3. ^ ab"15 Words You Didn't Realize Were Named After People". Grammar Girl. 
  4. ^ ab"Chauvinism". The Oxford English Dictionary. 
  5. ^"Jingoism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  6. ^"Jingoism & Chauvinism". Word Histories. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  7. ^"Chauvinism". Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. 
  8. ^The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Retrieved 4 December 2008.  
  9. ^Arendt, Hannah (October 1945). "Imperialism, Nationalism, Chauvinism". The Review of Politics. 7 (4): 457. doi:10.1017/s0034670500001649. 
  10. ^Mansbridge, Jane; Katherine Flaster (2005). "Male Chauvinist, Feminist, Sexist, and Sexual Harassment: Different Trajectories in Feminist Linguistic Innovation"(PDF). American Speech. Harvard University. 80 (3): 261. doi:10.1215/00031283-80-3-256. 
  11. ^ abLloyd, Cynthia B., ed. Sex, Discrimination, and the Division of Labor. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975. Print.
  12. ^Michael Korda, Male Chauvinism! How It Works. New York: Random House, 1973. Print.
  13. ^Potkay, Charles R., Matthew R. Merrens. Sources of Male Chauvinism in the TAT. Journal of Personality Assessment, 39.5 (1975): 471-479. Web. 31 Jan 2012.
  14. ^Woods, Sherwyn M. (January 1976). "Some Dynamics of Male Chauvinism". Archives of General Psychiatry. 33 (1): 63. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770010037007. 
  15. ^"If I were a man, I would strenuously object to the assumption that women have any moral or spiritual superiority as a class. This is [...] female chauvinism." Friedan, Betty. 1998. It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement. Harvard University Press
  16. ^Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, Ariel Levy, 2006, ISBN 0-7432-8428-3

External links[edit]

Look up chauvinism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Male chauvinism is a male attitude of superiority relative to women. Men who carry this type of feeling about women into the workplace tend to behave in a way that demeans the value of women's work and contributions to their teams and the organization. Though generally frowned upon. chauvinism shows mixed effects on career success.


The concept of male chauvinism is relatively new. Prior to the feminist movement of the 1960s, what is now considered chauvinism was largely commonplace, accepted behavior. Women were often treated as inferior in workplaces, and virtual glass ceilings on career growth and income were the norm. Executives and managers in business and industry were typically men. Women routinely filled secretarial and administrative office roles. They were rarely included in important business decisions and discussions and were typically talked down to regarding their overall contributions. Since the 1960s, gender fairness and income equality have gradually improved. Male chauvinism generally describes behaviors that depict historic views on the role of gender in the workplace.


Male chauvinism is an attitude that causes men to talk about women and behave toward them in a certain way. Any behavior that conveys disrespect toward a colleague or co-worker based specifically on her gender suggests a feeling of superiority. Joking that a woman's role is to cook and clean is a common way some men express their feelings. Talking down to a woman or excluding her from business decisions and discusses also are examples of chauvinism.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes behaviors that create a hostile work environment based on gender or the provision of benefits in exchange for sexual favors. This is an extreme, illegal category of chauvinistic behavior that has drawn much attention since the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. Anita Hill, a former colleague of Thomas's, testified in front of the court that he sexually harassed her. Unwanted touches, sexual jokes and gender-based jokes or interaction can all lead to claims of hostile work conditions. Men in managerial roles may offer promotions or job benefits to female subordinates in exchange for sexual favors. These activities demonstrate a strong feeling of superiority and male chauvinism. Cracking down on sexual harassment in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries has coincided with increased efforts by lawmakers to create a more gender-neutral workplace.


Male chauvinism is counter to typical societal standards of professionalism and ethics in the early 21st century. Men who convey an attitude of superiority toward women and act in response to it are usually looked down on by colleagues. However, some studies suggest that chauvinism may not have the expected negative consequences on the careers of men. A 2008 study for the "Journal of Applied Psychology" showed men who stated a belief that women were subservient in the workplace earned $12,000 more than other men. This may relate to their stronger emphasis on career success as opposed to balancing work and family responsibilities. Some top earners, as of 2012, may also be older men who have held executive positions for a long time.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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