I spent some time over the holidays catching up on what some of the professionals who I respect in the field of forensic psychology have been sharing with their reading audience lately. I came across a fascinating, although disturbing, piece by Dr. Karen Franklin. I have referenced Dr. Franklin’s blog on here before, as I always can count on her to provide some fascinating food for thought. This time, she discusses a study of men’s magazines in Great Britain and the effect they may be having on the way that adolescent boys think about women.
Dr. Franklin shares a study that is being published in the British Journal of Psychology that shows men identify more with comments made by rapists than those printed in the “lad mags” that are designed to play upon the sexual attractions of a young male just reaching adulthood. And, here’s the somber follow up—the fact that men favor the comments by rapists may be a good thing!
When putting comments made by convicted rapists side by side with those found in the magazines, the researchers found that the latter were actually more denigrating and predatory toward women. One theory is that sex offenders are often required to seek psychological treatment and enroll in programs that attempt to teach them the appropriate way to view women, while the “journalists” in the magazines just continue to play to the most base urges and reactions of its intended audience.
If you want to see for yourself if you can distinguish what is being said by a rapist and what is being printed in a magazine for men, check out this article which contains sixteen sample statements. It’s frightening stuff.
While the publishers of these magazines certainly have the right to sell such material to the young men they target, it is disturbing that the readers may use these articles to develop their attitudes about women, or perhaps reinforce the perspective they already have. It’s just another example of the objectification of women that is so prevalent in popular culture and that needs to be watched closely so that others may try to counter that message with more positive words and images.
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