Well, this is disturbing: A recent study coming out in the British Journal of Psychology found it’s hard to distinguish between descriptions of women found in popular men’s magazines and those spouted by convicted rapists asked to explain their acts. For anyone who doesn’t understand what the term ‘rape culture’ means—well, this is a pretty fine example.
“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 the study, psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey took quotes from both British men’s magazines, such as FHM, Loaded and Zoo, and from ‘The Rapist Files,’ a collection of interviews with convicted rapists. When they posed the quotes to a group of men and women ages 19 to 30, most were unable to tell the difference—participants could categorize the quotes by source ‘little better than chance.’
Think you could do better? Here are a few of the quotes:
“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.”
Survey says …. the first one comes from the rapist files; the next two are from men’s magazines.
The researchers note that men’s magazines help normalize hostile sexism, because things tend to be seen as socially acceptable when they appear in popular magazines. “A lot of debate around the regulation of lads’ mags has been to do with how they affect children,” said lead researchers Miranda Horvath, “but less has been said about the influence they have on their intended audience of young men and the women with whom those men socialise.”
At least folks participating in the study recognized how f**ked up some of this stuff is—in a follow-up study, men and women were asked to rank quotes based on how derogatory they were, and the men’s mag content was rated worse than the rapists’ talk. But, wow, what a sad indictment of the kind of rape culture we live in, when mainstream content aimed at young men is more derogatory than the justifications of sexual predators.
Photo: Screenshot from ZooToday.com.