Magazine articles jeopardize and empower young women's sexuality

September 4, 2012

Los Angeles, CA (September 4, 2012) While the effects of sexualized media on young women has long been debated, a new study finds that women who read sex-related magazine articles from popular women's magazines like Cosmopolitan are less likely to view premarital sex as a risky behavior. Additionally, the women who are exposed to these articles are more supportive of sexual behavior that both empowers women and prioritizes their own sexual pleasure. This study was published in a recent article from Psychology of Women Quarterly (published by SAGE).

Study authors Janna L. Kim and L. Monique Ward wrote, "When exposed to explicit textual messages about female sexual assertiveness in women's magazines, readers regarded women's capacity to experience and act on feelings of more favorably."

To execute the study, 150 women college students were randomly assigned to read articles from two popular magazines: one set of articles about women's roles in and the other set about general entertainment unrelated to sexual relationships.

In addition to finding that the group of women exposed to the sex-related articles endorsed more , the researchers found that white women in particular viewed premarital sex as less risky and endorsed taking on a more assertive sexual role than women of color.

Kim and Ward concluded, "Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women's developing sexual identities."

More information: The article "Striving for Pleasure without Fear: Short-Term Effects of Reading a Women's Magazine on Women's Sexual Attitudes" in Psychology of Women Quarterly is available free at:

Related Stories

Recommended for you

First language wires brain for later language-learning

December 1, 2015

You may believe that you have forgotten the Chinese you spoke as a child, but your brain hasn't. Moreover, that "forgotten" first language may well influence what goes on in your brain when you speak English or French today.

Watching eyes prevent littering

December 1, 2015

People are less likely to drop litter if it has printed eyes on it, researchers at Newcastle University, UK, have found. An image of watching eyes reduced the odds of littering by around two thirds.

Anxiety can kill your social status

December 1, 2015

Neuroscientists at EPFL identify a brain region that links anxious temperament to low social status. The researchers were able to tweak social hierarchy in animals by using vitamin B3.

How can I tell if she's lying?

November 27, 2015

Sarcasm, white lies and teasing can be difficult to identify for those with certain disorders – new video inventory developed at McGill may help


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.