Women increasingly ‘pornified’ by popular media: study
BUFFALO, NY, August 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A study by University at Buffalo sociologists has found a rise in “pornified” images of women in popular media. The researchers are warning that these findings are cause for concern because previous research has found that such images of women have negative consequences for both men and women.
University at Buffalo (UB) Department of Sociology assistant professors Erin Hatton and Mary Nell Trautner are the authors of “Equal Opportunity Objectification? The Sexualization of Men and Women on the Cover of Rolling Stone,” which will be published in the September issue of the journal “Sexuality & Culture.”
Hatton and Trautner examined more than 1,000 images of men and women in “Rolling Stone” magazine from 1967 to 2009. They chose “Rolling Stone,” according to Hatton, because “it is a well-established, pop-culture media outlet. It is not explicitly about sex or relationships … and so offers a useful window into how women and men are portrayed generally in popular culture.”
The authors measured the intensity of sexualized representations by developing a “scale of sexualization.” The scale gave an image “points” for being sexualized if the subject’s lips were parted or tongue was showing, if the subject was only partially clad or naked, or if the text describing the subject used explicitly sexual language.
Hatton and Trautner found that in the 1960s, 11% of men and 44% of women on the covers of “Rolling Stone” were sexualized. In the 2000s, the percentage of men who were sexualized had increased 55% to 17% and the percentage of women 89% to 83%.
“In the 2000s, there were 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men, and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women,” said Hatton.
“Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys,” Hatton says. “Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.”
“Although on the surface these findings are not surprising, I was indeed surprised by the intensity of women’s sexualization relative to men,” Hatton told LifeSiteNews (LSN).
“Such images came under fire in the 1970s, but since then we as a culture don’t think they are particularly problematic,” she said. “People say, ‘Well, what do you expect? Sex sells!’ Or, ‘We are a sexual society.’ But if that were the case, we would not see such a dramatic difference between men and women, AND we would not see such a dramatic increase in hypersexualized images of women, but not men, over time.”
“I think it’s time to open a new and heated public discussion of the prevalence of such images and the problems they cause, and I think that there would be broad-based agreement from both sides of the political spectrum that these images are problematic,” Hatton said.