Sexism in media aimed at men

There has been continued attention paid to the role of sexism in media aimed at men. One key focus for this has been on ‘lad’s mags’, with high profile campaigns to ban these from high street shops due to the depictions of naked and scantily-clad women on their front covers[205]. These magazines generally represent gender in binary ways, and women as very different to men in a ‘battle of the sexes’ where they require figuring out and manipulating in order for men to get what they want from them (i.e. sex)[206].

Some research has drawn attention to the sexist comments and depictions of women within the magazines, which are indistinguishable in places from the ways in which convicted rapists refer to women[207]. Some researchers have argued that lads mags are a form of backlash against feminism, and that the ‘ironic’ tone of the magazines makes accusations of sexism difficult because it can be argued that it was not serious and was meant to be regarded as ridiculous[208]. Attention has also been drawn to the fact that many magazines celebrate a kind of heroic, often xenophobic, white working class masculinity (involving beer, football and hetero sex), imagined by middle class editors and writers and bearing little resemblance to the reality of working class men’s lives.

However, other researchers have argued that the irony in lad’s mags is a form of ‘sweetening the pill’ because it is difficult for men to seek advice and they feel threatened by shifts in relationships with women. Pointing to the contradictions in the magazines and in the talk of their readers, they argue that the ironic tone represents an acknowledgement that sexist depictions are ridiculous and not based in reality, as well as an insecurity on the part of men that they might conform to bumbling or ‘man child’ stereotypes[209]. Others have argued that problematic depictions of women’s bodies and femininity are just as prevalent in women’s magazines as they are in those aimed at men[210].

Representations of trans* people

205. http://www.losetheladsmags.org.uk/
206. Barker, M. (2013). Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships. London: Routledge.
207. Horvath, M. A., Hegarty, P., Tyler, S. & Mansfield, S. (2012). ‘Lights on at the end of the party’: Are lads’ mags mainstreaming dangerous sexism British Journal of Psychology, 103(4), 454-471.
208. Gill, R. (2006). Gender and the Media. London: Polity Press; For more on men’s magazines see Gill, R. (2003). Power and the production of subjects: a genealogy of the New Man and the New Lad in Benwell, B. (Ed). Masculinity and Men’s Lifestyle Magazines. Oxford & Malden: Blackwell, 34-56 and Attwood, F. (2005). ‘Tits and ass and porn and fighting’: male heterosexuality in magazines for men’. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(1), 87-104.
209. Gauntlett, D. (2008). Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction. London: Routledge.
210. Scott, C. (2013). Get real, banning lads’ mags would patronise women. The Telegraph, 13 June 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10117714/Get-real-banning-lads-mags-would-patronise-women.html

Representations of trans* people