Men's Objectifying Media Consumption, Objectification of Women, and Attitudes Supportive of Violence Against Women

Arch Sex Behav. 2016 May;45(4):955-64. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0644-8. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


A recent White House Council Report on Women and Girls called attention to sexual assault on college campuses and encouraged continued research on this important public health problem. Media that sexually objectify women have been identified by feminist scholars as encouraging of sexual assault, but some researchers question why portrayals that do not feature sexual assault should affect men's attitudes supportive of violence against women. Guided by the concepts of specific and abstract sexual scripting in Wright's (Communication Yearbook 35:343-386, 2011) sexual script acquisition, activation, application model of sexual media socialization, this study proposed that the more men are exposed to objectifying depictions, the more they will think of women as entities that exist for men's sexual gratification (specific sexual scripting), and that this dehumanized perspective on women may then be used to inform attitudes regarding sexual violence against women (abstract sexual scripting). Data were gathered from collegiate men sexually attracted to women (N = 187). Consistent with expectations, associations between men's exposure to objectifying media and attitudes supportive of violence against women were mediated by their notions of women as sex objects. Specifically, frequency of exposure to men's lifestyle magazines that objectify women, reality TV programs that objectify women, and pornography predicted more objectified cognitions about women, which, in turn, predicted stronger attitudes supportive of violence against women.

Keywords: 3AM; Men’s magazines; Objectification; Pornography; Reality TV; Violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Men / psychology*
  • Rape
  • Sex Offenses
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Violence / psychology*