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Sexism in Advertising and Media

Thesis on Sexism

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The Daily Mail article (UK Newspaper)

How sexist advertising causes men to adopt 'violent and sexually aggressive behavior' as they aspire to the macho ideal

By Sadie Whitelocks

Published: 22:06 GMT, 9 May 2013 | Updated: 22:13 GMT, 9 May 2013


Macho advertising could trigger anti-social behavior in young males, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, analyzed 527 print adverts pulled from a slate of popular U.S. men's magazines, including Wired, Maxim and Golf Digest.

They found that 56per cent of the images depicted 'hyper-masculine' ideals, encouraging readers to adopt violent or sexually aggressive tendencies.






Hidden impact: Men's adverts could trigger anti-social behavior in young males, according to a new study

Magazines pushing the hyper-masculine image most aggressively with their ad space were Playboy, Maxim and Game Informer, while Golf Digest and Fortune contained the least offensive content.

The researchers said that young, lower-income, and less-educated males were most likely to be influenced by what they saw.


'Young men are still learning appropriate gender behaviors, and their beliefs and attitudes can be subtly shaped by [media] images,' they explained.

Additionally, it was noted that the sexist ads may help reinforce negative thoughts among older readers.

The study, published in the May edition of the science journal Sex Roles, took into account 2007 or 2008 issues of Playboy, Field and Stream, Game Informer, Maxim, Esquire, Wired, Fortune and Golf Digest magazine.

'The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men's advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large'

Lead author Megan Vokey, and her colleagues only considered ads where a photograph, picture or symbol of a man was shown.

They were faced with range of questions for each ad like, 'Does it appear that being extremely muscular is important for men?'

Results showed that a significant number of the advertisements portrayed or promoted one or more component of hyper-masculinity, defined as: Toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex.

Ms Vokey said she was concerned how these help to normalize unsocial practices. Previous research has linked hyper-masculinity to problems including drug use, violence towards others and dangerous driving.

It's not the first piece of research into how men are increasingly affected by media messages.

In 2008, a study found that male participants exposed to pictures of muscular men were more likely to feel dissatisfied with their own bodies.

'The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men's advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large,' Ms Vokey concluded.


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Discussion questions

Do the advertisements lead to increased violence against women?


How can the ad's be changed to still be effective without being degrading or humiliating to women?


How do you feel when you see these kinds of ads, and would you feel differently if it was your girlfriend or sister in the pictures?