Striving for pleasure without fear: Short-term effects of reading a women?s magazine on women?s sexual attitudes
From Psychology of Women Quarterly?
The outstanding global success of ?50 Shades Of Grey? by E. L. James seems to have prompted the abundance of?erotic novels?on the market and storming the charts. At the moment 8 out of the top 10 bestselling fictional books in the UK are works of erotica. The boom of ?mummy porn? has no doubt encouraged speculation about the effects the popularity may have on attitudes and behavior. While the effects of sexualized media on young women has long been debated, this study finds that women who read sex-related magazine articles from popular women?s magazines like Cosmopolitan are less likely to view premarital sex as a risky behavior. Additionally, the women who are exposed to these articles are more supportive of sexual behavior that both empowers women and prioritizes their own sexual pleasure.
To execute the study, 150 women college students were randomly assigned to read articles from two popular magazines: one set of articles about women?s roles in sexual relationships and the other set about general entertainment unrelated to sexual relationships. In addition to finding that the group of women exposed to the sex-related articles endorsed more risky sexual behavior, the researchers found that white women in particular viewed premarital sex as less risky and endorsed taking on a more assertive sexual role than women of color. The authors conclude, ?Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women?s developing sexual identities.?
Contemporary women?s magazines are replete with scripts about sexual relationships and sexual roles for women. Our study used an experimental design to assess whether short-term exposure to a women?s magazine affected young women?s endorsement of sexual scripts commonly found in this genre, including scripts framing sexual intercourse as risky and portraying women?s sexual assertiveness as serving men?s sexual fantasies or women?s own sexual desires. Undergraduate women (N?= 160) were randomly assigned in groups to read articles either depicting scripts about sexual relationships in a popular women?s magazine (experimental) or containing no scripts about sexual relationships in a general entertainment magazine (control). Compared to women in the control group, women who were briefly exposed to a women?s magazine were less likely to believe that sexual intercourse is a risky activity and more likely to believe that women should be assertive in prioritizing their sexual desire for their own sake, but not for a male partner?s. Individual and cultural differences in women?s acceptance of magazines? sexual scripts also emerged based on factors such as regular frequency of magazine reading, level of sexual experience, and ethnic background. Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women?s developing sexual identities.
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Janna L. Kim1?, & L. Monique Ward2 (2012). for Pleasure Without Fear?Short-Term Effects of Reading a Women?s Magazine on Women?s Sexual Attitudes Psychology of Women Quarterly : 10.1177/0361684312442856
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Tags: mass media, popular culture, role expectations, sex-role attitudes, sexual attitudes, sexual risk-taking, sexual satisfaction