The portrayal of women in the popular media over the last several decades has become increasingly sexualized, even "pornified." The same is not true of the portrayal of men. This could be a reflection of what’s happening to women’s lives in this economy.
These findings may be cause for concern because previous research has found sexualized images of women to have far-reaching negative consequences for both men and women. Two sociologists studied this by examining the covers of Rolling Stone magazine from 1967 to 2009. Why Rolling Stone? Sociologist Erin Hatton says, "We chose (it) because it is a well-established, pop-culture media outlet. It is not explicitly about sex or relationships; foremost it is about music. But it also covers politics, film, television and current events, and so offers a useful window into how women and men are portrayed generally in popular culture."
After analyzing more than 1,000 images of men and women on Rolling Stone covers over the course of 43 years, the researchers came to several conclusions. First, representations of both women and men have indeed become more sexualized over time; and, second, women continue to be more frequently sexualized than men. Their most striking finding, however, was the change in how VERY sexualized images of women–but not men–have become.
Hatton says, "What we conclude from this is that popular media outlets such as Rolling Stone are not depicting women as sexy musicians or actors, they are depicting women musicians and actors as ready and available for sex. This is problematic, because it indicates a decisive narrowing of media representations of women."
This is especially odd because during this period, a record number of women became heads of government and business CEOs. Could this be due to a sense of fear and uneasiness on the part of (male) magazine editors?
Are women overly sexualized in Whitley Strieber’s books? He hopes not–and he’s giving away a gorgeous, NON-sexy, signed bookplate with each one!