Protecting Our (White) Daughters: Immigration, Benevolent Sexism and Racial Resentment

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Smilan-Goldstein, Rachel, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Winter, Nicholas, AS-Dept of Politics, University of Virginia

In recent advocacy for restrictive immigration policies, conservative U.S. politicians have advanced a narrative of Latinx male criminality, with White women most commonly serving as victims. This particular anti-immigrant discourse links benevolent sexism with racial resentment and ethnocentrism to emphasize a need to protect White women from Latinx male immigrants. Calls to protect White women from imperilment by racially other men have a long history in Western political culture. Past research on immigration and public opinion has established that the race of immigrants is an important motivator of immigration policy views. This project shifts the focus of immigration and public opinion scholarship to consider how the identity of purported “victims” of immigration uniquely affects immigration attitudes. An analysis of CCES data finds that benevolent sexism has a notable impact on the immigration attitudes of White Americans. An original survey experiment finds that, among White Americans, benevolent sexism predicts anti-immigration attitudes only when the victim of a Latinx male immigrant’s crime is a White woman.

MA (Master of Arts)
Immigration, Racial Resentment, Benevolent Sexism, Public Opinion
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