What do men’s magazines and convicted rapists have in common? How they describe women, a British study has found.
When presented with quotes taken from popular men’s mags like “FHM” or “The Rapist Files” — a collection of interviews with convicted rapists — men were unable to distinguish the source, according to the study coming out in the British Journal of Psychology.
“Our research showed an overlap in the content of popular lads’ mags and the kinds of things that convicted rapists say when they’re justifying sexual violence against women,” study co-author Peter Hegarty said in an interview posted on the University of Surrey’s website.
Hegarty and colleagues say the quotes from rapists, which cover topics ranging from how to tell a woman wants sex to what to do when caught “red-handed,” legitimize hostile sexist attitudes.
“Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no, and there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist,” lead author Miranda Horvath, senior lecturer in psychology at Middlesex University said in a statement.
See if you can guess the source of these quotes used in the study:
- “There’s a certain way you can tell that a girl wants to have sex… The way they dress, they flaunt themselves.”
- “You do not want to be caught red-handed… go and smash her on a park bench. That used to be my trick.”
- “I think girls are like plasticine, if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them.”
- “You’ll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car… But you can usually seduce them, and they’ll do it willingly.”
In a follow-up study, men were asked to rank quotes based on how derogatory they were. Men’s magazines came out looking worse than rapists.
“We hope that our results inform policy debates by shifting attention to the possible dangers that lads’ mags might pose to their intended audience of young men, and to the young women with whom those men socialize,” the authors wrote.
Surveys suggest young men do look to magazines for advice about relationships and sex. But Hegarty says censorship is not the answer.
“Instead, I think it would be more useful if the government were to invest in really high-quality sex education for young men and women so that people didn’t have to rely on these kinds of media to fill the gap,” he said.
Answers: 1. Rapist, 2. Men’s Mag, 3. Men’s Mag, 4. Rapist