A new study conducted by the University of Surrey suggests that messages contained in men’s magazines sound more like those coming out of the mouths of convicted rapists, than solid, lady-friendly man-advice.
The study took quotes from several men’s magazines and combined them with quotes from convicted rapists. They showed the list to participants and asked them to identify which were which. Not only could they NOT identify the quote sources reliably, but many were more inclined to agree with the statements made by rapists AND most found the quotes from the men’s magazines more derogatory in nature.
What’s terrifying to me, is that many of the messages or “quotes” they used are similar to those you’d hear in cases of victim blaming (in instances of rape, blaming the victim for ‘asking’ for it, instead of focusing on the acts of the rapist). Victim blaming is one of the reasons most (MOST) women don’t report their rapes, or feel hesitant talking to friends and family. And it’s not just men who mirror these sentiments… they’re used by women too.
Really, truly, scary stuff. Excerpt from Jezebel
The University of Surrey reports on the study (conducted jointly with researchers at Middlesex University), to be published in the British Journal of Psychology. Researchers gave a group of men and women quotes from the British lad mags FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo, as well as excerpts from interviews with actual convicted rapists originally published in the book The Rapist Files. The participants couldn’t reliably identify which statements came from magazines and which from rapists — what’s more, they rated the magazine quotes as slightly more derogatory than the statements made by men serving time for raping women. The researchers also showed both sets of quotes to a separate group of men — the men were more likely to identify with the rapists’ statements than the lad mag excerpts. The only slightly bright spot in the study: when researchers randomly (and sometimes incorrectly) labelled the quotes as coming from either rapists or magazines, the men were more likely to identify with the ones allegedly drawn from mags. At least they didn’t want to agree with rapists.
Still, the results as a whole are pretty disturbing. Says lead study author Dr. Miranda Horvath, “We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.” Her co-author Dr. Peter Hegarty adds,
There is a fundamental concern that the content of such magazines normalises the treatment of women as sexual objects. We are not killjoys or prudes who think that there should be no sexual information and media for young people. But are teenage boys and young men best prepared for fulfilling love and sex when they normalise views about women that are disturbingly close to those mirrored in the language of sexual offenders?