At a time when the 'Keep Calm And Rape' T-shirts (recently available on Amazon) has brought gender-based violence to the forefront of many minds, another study has suggested that hyper-masculine advertising may lead to "troubling behaviour in young men".
The report, published in the 'Sex Roles' journal, suggests that hyper-masculine advertising in magazines specifically aimed at men reinforces certain views on masculinity, which could prove to be problematic.
Hyper-masculinity is an extreme form of masculine gender ideology comprised of four main components: toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex.
The study team, lead by Megan Vokey from the University of Manitoba, found that these hyper-masculine depictions of men appear to be commonplace in U.S. magazine advertisements.
The authors analysed ads in eight, high-circulation magazines marketed to men of different ages, levels of education and income each magazine where photographs, pictures or symbols of men were shown.
The researchers then categorised these advertisements using the four components that constitute hyper-masculinity.
They found that at least one of these hyper-masculine attitudes was depicted in 56% of the total sample of 527 advertisements. In some magazines, this percentage was as high as 90%.
See some of the magazines studied here:
According to a statement from the journal, prior research shows a positive association between hyper-masculine beliefs and a host of social and health problems, such as dangerous driving, drug use and violence towards women.
“The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men’s magazine advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large. Although theoretically, men as a group can resist the harmful aspects of hyper-masculine images, the effects of such images cannot be escaped completely,” said the authors.
Further analysis of the study data also showed that magazines with the highest proportion of hyper-masculine advertisements were those aimed at younger, less-affluent and less-educated men.
The authors argue that young men's beliefs and attitudes can be subtly shaped by images that the mass media repeatedly represent, which makes this an area of real concern.
They add that such advertisements can reinforce the belief among working-class men that toughness and physical violence are useful tools to gaining power and respect, and educating advertisers about such consequences may help reduce the use of these stereotypes.