“What is peculiar to modern societies, in fact, is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret.”—Foucault, The Repressive Hypothesis, The History of Sexuality
Far from being harmless or ironic fun, lads’ mags could be legitimising hostile sexist attitudes, according to new research.
Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey found that when presented with descriptions of women taken from lads’ mags, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not distinguish the source of the quotes.
The research due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology also revealed that most men who took part identified themselves more with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
"These magazines support the legitimisation of sexist attitudes and behaviours and need to be more responsible about their portrayal of women, both in words and images. They give the appearance that sexism is acceptable and normal — when really it should be rejected and challenged. Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no. There is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads’ mag could have come from a convicted rapist."