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Begging Questions About Sexualization

A photograph is worth a 1000 words, but it can only talk about so many things at once. Read More

Defining Sexuality

Hey Jesse,
Thanks for this post. I always love a good critic. That's what keeps the science moving forward! I agree with your thoughts that men and women may be presented as being equally attractive (especially as a short-term mate) on those magazine covers. And sure, when you define a construct in a certain way, it may be more applicable to one sex over the other.
I do, however, want to challenge your thoughts a little here.
The take-home message that I got from this post was: "Women are not more sexualized than men, but when you define sexualization as Hatton and Trautner did, of course you will find what you were looking for."
I'd like to argue, however, that sexualization is very much defined by the scales used in that study (i.e. nudity, facial expressions, posture/pose) and that women, do in fact, appear in more sexualized way than men do. Is this because the sexualization of men does not appeal to women as much as the reverse? Sure, but alas, women are still presented in a more sexualized (objectified) way than are men.
You seem to take issue with their definition, but I think they are on point and that their findings are realistic. I do agree that appeal as short-term mates could be explored with the same methodology. In that case, with appropriate cross-sex criteria, I also suspect you would find no sex differences in how appealing they are (i.e. men are depicted as status symbols).
They tell a good story here and laid the groundwork for future research, especially in the directions you describe.
Keep writing and educating! See you at SPSP in February!

Wait a sec...

Isn't judging a magazine by its cover about the height of superficiality and objectification?

At best the study says something marginal from a particular perspective about the demographic that buys Rolling Stone. Why pick on them, rather than, say, People Magazine?

Interesting point

The stated rational for choosing Rolling Stone was that it covered a diverse array of culture figures, both men and women. Admittedly, I'm not familiar with other magazines which might make for a better data set.

Your first point, though, is very interesting to consider.

Miley Cyrus is sexualizing

Miley Cyrus is sexualizing amd exploiting herself with her behavior.Same with all the porno freaks.Women have all the capital claiming that men are the objectifiers.They've built an entire movement called feminism claiming they wanted equality when they really only wanted 'special rights'.Funny,go take a look at all the dating criteria that many women will use for men these days and who's objectifying whom? Women discriminate,objectify,engage in misandry and filet guys on ALOT of things,many of which they can't control (go figure)and they use the 'preference' card cover to try and justify it all...haha hypocrites are funny! Grow up and get a life ladies.


The media sexualization of women is not good for women and girls
because it sets impossible standards of what it means to be a real women.

But the standards set for what it means to be real man is even more destructive to men and boys.

In the media, idealized women are incredibly beautiful, thin, intelligent, well dressed, witty, hard-working and successful.

In the media, idealized men are incredibly good looking, buff, intelligent, well dressed, witty, and successful. But in addition they are also rebellious bad boys (with a dangerous edge) who work outside the system, but still succeed. The cliché is the guy who rebellious cop who disregards his bosses orders, but gets the bad guy so instead of getting fired, becomes a hero. Of the guy who tells his boss to shove it, but the boss is impressed with his gumption and instead gives him a promotion.

For the women who wholeheartedly buy into this feminine ideal, they often end up with poor healthy (from dieting and depression), but at least they can turn their lives around.

But for men who have wholeheartedly bought into this manly ideal, life is much harder. It turns out that in real life, having an attitude and a rebellious attitude does not often go over well with teachers and employers. And the media glorification of manly violence and manly gun-love is more likely to lead to accidental shootings and crime.

For a woman, the feminine ideal is at least possible for those born with very good looks and high IQ who don't mind a nervous break-down or two. But for men, the manly ideal is almost impossible, unless they are willing to become a criminal kingpin (increasingly the new male ideal in movies and TV).

My takeaway is that the hours per day that women and men spend sitting in front of the TV is not good for anyone.






"And the media glorification

"And the media glorification of manly violence and manly gun-love is more likely to lead to accidental shootings and crime."

Accidental? More like men are more likely to justify their acts, not that they're more likely to make an "accident".

Most men's violence is VERY intentional. A man turning too quickly and elbowing somebody behind them is an ACCIDENT. Throwing punches into someone's face to "protect your pride" is VIOLENCE. Shooting up a school because you got kicked off the team is VIOLENCE. Men are VIOLENT, these are no accidents. They are very much intentional.

"And the media glorification

"And the media glorification of manly violence and manly gun-love
is more likely to lead to accidental shootings and crime."

Well crime is not accidental, by definition it is intentional. But TV shows and movies are incredibly effective at glorifying guns, and making the case that real men own guns, and the more guns around, the more that legitimate gun accidents are going to happen, and the more that criminals also buy into how manly and wonderful guns are.

“Men are VIOLENT, these are no accidents.”

This is very much the argument of the gun industry. That human beings (especially men) are intrinsically murderous and violent and thus you need to buy lots and lots of guns to protect yourself.

But the social sciences are clear, humans learn from imitation. If someone (male or female) grows up surrounded by violence and meaness (including virtual violence and meaness) they will grow up to be more violent and mean. But if they grow up surrounded by love and friendship and play, they will grow up to be more peaceful and loving and fun.


What's wrong with being a

What's wrong with being a kingpin?

A criminal kingpin.

A criminal kingpin.

Miley Cyrus is sexualized

Miley Cyrus is sexualized because that's what women are increasingly expected to do in order to get ahead in the media and entertainment industries. A man in these industries is taken at face value on his skill and talent alone. Women are taken not for their skill and talent as much as what they look like and how sexually appealing they are. The 'good girl gone bad' scenario is particularly popular. It's no coincidence that there are so many young, female artists following completely identical paths as far as their public image. These paths are man-made porn scripts dictated to young women by men with more power, money and influence within the media and entertainment industries. Women are expected to play the game or risk their careers.

This is what the discussion of the sexualization of women in the media is about. It's been shown to have a significant impact on the physical and psychological health of women and especially girls and is in itself a visual depiction of sex discrimination. The different ways that men and women may be attracted to each other and how that may or may not play out on the cover of Rolling Stone a side issue, if not irrelevant.

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Jesse Marczyk, M.A., is a Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University; he studies evolutionary psychology and writes the blog Pop Psychology: The Internet's evolutionary psycholo-guy.


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