Gendered Assumptions about Credibility

Yesterday, Cheyenne Mayor Marianne Orr accused Governor Mark Gordon of using profane language (which the Governor has admitted to and apologized for), misogynistic language (which he has stated is a mischaracterization that he finds deeply offensive), and that he was physically intimidating (which he flat out denies). (For more on the situation, you can read here, here, and here.)

In light of this latest Wyoming example (for earlier Wyoming examples see here and here), we're interested in is this question: Who is considered credible?

Studies repeatedly show that we do not believe women.

As Soraya Chimaly points out in her excellent essay, Why Don't 'Good Men' Believe Women?, "We cannot move forward in trust when such a large percentage of the population, and a population with disparate institutional power and access to resources, is so vested in ideals that actively discourage believing what women and survivors are saying matters."

Research from (the complicatedly named) Misconceptions, Misinformation, and the Logic of Identity-Protective Cognition shows, "Individuals are more likely to accept misinformation and resist the correction of it when that misinformation is identity-affirming rather than identity-threatening. Effectively counteracting these dynamics...requires more than simply supplying citizens with correct information."

And Pew Research found that while 63 percent of women believe that sexism and gender biases make life more difficult for them, 56 percent of men say those obstacles don’t exist. More specifically Chimaly notes, "The more a person adheres to traditional gender ideals, the less likely they are to believe what women are saying about harassment, coercion, assault, rape, and their impacts."

So, with this as the backdrop, consider the question again: Who is considered credible?


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