Sexual Objectification in Music Videos and Acceptance of Potentially Offensive Sexual Behaviors

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Abstract

Little is known about how adolescent and college-aged women interpret music media or how their perceptions of music media are related to their acceptance of physical or nonphysical forms of sexual behavior by male peers. Adolescent and emerging adult women (n = 259) viewed and responded to randomly selected music videos. Results from MANCOVA indicate that viewers’ perceptions of women in music videos differed by age/social context and, after accounting for their perceptions of the videos’ entertainment value and realism, differed within the music video sets. College women were more likely than high-school-aged women to perceive women in music videos as attractive and powerful. Viewers were more likely to perceive women in music videos to be attractive when they also perceived them to be sexual objects but not when they perceived the women in music videos to be powerful. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that participants who accepted sexual objectification and who were entertained by the music videos were less likely to be offended by nonphysical potentially offensive sexual behaviors (POSB) such as dirty jokes or cat calls. Women who accepted sexual objectification of women and perceived the music videos to be realistic were less likely to be offended by physical POSB (e.g., being touched or grabbed, unwanted sexual advances). Results suggest that personal attitudes and finding music videos to be entertaining or realistic may together inform attitudes that normalize the acceptance of POSB.

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