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Do Rapists and Men’s Magazines Speak the Same Language?

Last Updated: April 23, 2014

Psychologists from the University of Surrey and Middlesex University took quotes about women from convicted rapists and then took quotes from men’s lifestyle magazines in the UK—publications like Loaded, Nuts, Zoo, and FHM (similar to U.S. magazines like Maxim or Stuff). They asked participants to label which ones came from sex offenders and which ones came from the men’s magazines.

Most people could not distinguish the sources of the quotes.

Mens-Magazines-and-Convicted-Rapists

In a separate experiment, researchers also wanted to test how readily participants resonated with the quotes they were reading. They mixed and matched the quotes with the sources: some quotes from rapists were attributed to men’s magazines, some quotes from men’s magazines were attributed to rapists, and some were given correct attribution. Not surprisingly, they found that men were far more likely to say they resonated with the quotes they thought were from men’s magazines.

Researchers concluded: men’s magazines normalize the language of hostile sexism. Dr. Miranda Horvath comments:

“These magazines support the legitimization of sexist attitudes and behaviors 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.”

Test Yourself

The following is a sampling of quotes that were used in the experiment. For each statement, do you best to guess its source: was it said by a convicted rapist or printed in a men’s magazine?

Please note: the language in some of the quotes is crude and derogatory.

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