Volume 53, Issue 2 p. 201-216
Original Article

Why did Italians protest against Berlusconi's sexist behaviour? The role of sexist beliefs and emotional reactions in explaining women and men's pathways to protest

Maria-Paola Paladino

Corresponding Author

Maria-Paola Paladino

University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Maria-Paola Paladino, Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Corso Bettini, 31, Rovereto 38068, Italy (e-mail: [email protected]).Search for more papers by this author
Sara Zaniboni

Sara Zaniboni

University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy

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Fabio Fasoli

Fabio Fasoli

University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy

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Jeroen Vaes

Jeroen Vaes

University of Padova, Italy

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Chiara Volpato

Chiara Volpato

University of Milan La Bicocca, Milan, Italy

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First published: 18 January 2013
Citations: 4

Abstract

By taking advantage of the Italian protest in 2009 in reaction to the behaviour of then Prime Minister Berlusconi, in this research, we investigated the role of sexist beliefs (i.e., hostile sexism, complementary gender differentiation, protective paternalism, and heterosexual intimacy) and group-based emotional reactions (i.e., anger, humiliation, and sadness) to women's and men's action mobilization against public forms of sexism. The findings of this study suggest that women and men engaged in this protest for different reasons. Women mobilized to express their anger at Berlusconi's sexist behaviour, an emotion related to the condemnation of hostile sexist views and benevolent sexist beliefs about heterosexual intimacy. In contrast, the strength of men's participation in the protest was affected by humiliation, an emotion related to the condemnation of hostile sexist beliefs and support for complementary gender differentiation. This emotional path suggests that men likely protested to restore their reputations. These findings underline the role of sexist beliefs and group-based emotions in transforming the condemnation of a sexist event into action mobilization against sexism for both women and men.