Abstract

This study was designed to investigate whether adolescents’ exposure to a sexualized media environment is associated with stronger beliefs that women are sex objects. More specifically, we studied whether the association between notions of women as sex objects and exposure to sexual content of varied explicitness (i.e., sexually non-explicit, semi-explicit, or explicit) and in different formats (i.e., visual and audio-visual) can be better described as cumulative or as hierarchical. Further, we investigated whether this association was contingent on gender. Based on data from an on-line survey of 745 Dutch adolescents aged 13 to 18, we found that the relationship between exposure to a sexualized media environment and notions of women as sex objects followed a hierarchical pattern: Starting with adolescents’ exposure to sexually semi-explicit content, the statistical significance of the relationship with notions of women as sex objects moved from semi-explicit to explicit sexual content and from visual to audio-visual formats. Exposure to sexually explicit material in on-line movies was the only exposure measure significantly related to beliefs that women are sex objects in the final regression model, in which exposure to other forms of sexual content was controlled. The relationship between exposure to a sexualized media environment and notions of women as sex objects did not differ for girls and boys.

Keywords

PornographyTelevisionMagazinesInternetAdolescents

 

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