The media's pornification of women

Here’s a fascinating, but not all that surprising study from the University of Buffalo: they recently analyzed more than 1,000 images of men and women on Rolling Stone covers over the course of 43 years (they chose Rolling Stone since it’s a well-established, pop culture media outlet) and found the following:

  • In the 1960s, 11% of men and 44% of women on the covers of Rolling Stone were sexualized.
  • In the 2000s, 17% of men were sexualized (an increase of 55% from the 1960s), and 83% of women were sexualized (an increase of 89%).
  • Among those images that were sexualized, 2% of men and 61% of women were hypersexualized.
  • In the 2000s, there were 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men, and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women.

So female celebrities are not merely portrayed as sexy actors and musicians, they’re consistently and narrowly portrayed as passive sex objects available for the viewer’s pleasure and gratification – their careers, talents and skills pretty much forgotten in these images. Sure, you could adopt the Camille Paglia view that the naked female goddess holds all the power as men bow down before her. That sounds nice but, according to the researchers “Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys…Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; And they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.” Not exactly a win-win situation.

Check out Business Insider’s round up of a few Rolling Stones covers to see the porn progression for yourself.