The Influence of Magazines on Men: Normalizing and Challenging Young Men’s Prejudice With “Lads’ Mags”

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Abstract

Social psychologists have argued that popular U.K. and U.S. men’s magazines known as “lads’ mags” have normalized hostile sexism among young men. Three studies develop this argument. First, a survey of 423 young U.K. men found that ambivalent sexism predicted attitudes toward the consumption of lads’ mags, but not other forms of direct sexual consumption (paying for sex or patronizing strip clubs). Second, Study 2 (N = 81) found that young men low in sexism rated sexist jokes as less hostile toward women, but not as either funnier nor more ironic, when those jokes were presented within a lads’ mags context. These findings refute the idea that young men readily read lads’ mags’ sexism as ironic or “harmless fun.” They show instead that placing sexist jokes in lads’ mags contexts makes them appear less hostile. The third study (N = 275) demonstrated that young men perceived lads’ mags as less legitimate after attempting to distinguish the contents of lads’ mags from rapists’ legitimations of their crimes. Implications for contemporary studies of masculinities and consumption are discussed.

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