Ambivalent Sexism and Women’s Reactions to Stranger Harassment: The Case of Piropos in Spain
Piropos, a form of stranger harassment typical in Spain, consist of appearance-related comments that unknown men direct at women in public spaces, such as on the street. There is some controversy within Spanish society as to whether piropos should be rejected or accepted––at least a certain type of them. In this research, we analyzed how young Spanish women perceive piropos and tested whether women’s evaluation and emotional reactions to them depend on the type of piropo (“mild” or “lewd”) and participants’ ambivalent sexism. Women participants (N = 288) indicated their evaluation and emotional reactions to a mild or lewd piropo (having also a control condition where no piropo was presented) in a between-participants design. Results showed that the lewd piropo elicited lower happiness and feelings of power and greater anger-hostility than the mild piropo and the control condition. Similarly, the mild piropo also generated lower happiness and feelings of power and greater anger-hostility and anxiety than the control condition. We also conducted eight moderated mediation analyses, four each with participants’ hostile sexism scores and participants benevolent sexism scores as the predictor variable, using participants’ evaluation of the piropo as the mediator and the type of piropo (i.e., lewd or mild) as the moderator. The dependent variable on each analysis constituted the reactions of happiness, feelings of power, anger-hostility, and anxiety. Results revealed that relation between endorsing hostile sexism beliefs, while controlling for benevolent sexism beliefs, and emotional reactions to both types of piropos can be explained through participants’ evaluations of the piropos. In contrast, no indirect effect was found between benevolent sexism beliefs, when controlling for hostile sexism beliefs, and emotional reactions. Our results suggest that educating the public about the negative consequences of both types of piropos on women and reducing hostile sexism beliefs may help to eradicate street piropos. Additional online materials for this article are available on PWQ’s website at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/suppl/10.1177/03616843221115339.