The magazine maketh the woman?
Share this article:
London - A new study has shown how reading magazines such as Cosmopolitan affects a reader’s attitude to sex.
Research from the University of Michigan, published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, evaluated 160 participants’ reactions after reading women’s magazines.
The results revealed that, in the short term, a woman is more likely to view premarital sex from a positive perspective after reading “common sexual scripts” from Cosmopolitan, describing it as a “recreational” activity, rather than a “risky” one.
They were also more likely to endorse the idea of being sexually assertive with their own pleasure, rather than their partner’s, in mind.
The study, during which a control group read “sexually neutral” content from Entertainment Weekly, also found that Cosmopolitan and its ilk seemed to empower its readers.
Regular readers of the title were less likely to endorse a submissive sexual role, but those less familiar with Cosmopolitan’s sexual content were more likely to embrace the approach.
Study authors Drs Janna Kim and L Monique Ward explained: “Perhaps for frequent readers… messages about female passivity in the articles laden with sexual content… were eclipsed by the high concentration of scripts that promoted an overtly agentic female sexual role.
“Infrequent readers, reading the same articles, may have latched on to more traditional and familiar scripts about the importance of women’s appearance.”
Study participants given pages from Cosmopolitan read articles such as “How to Make Fast Sex Fab”, which included details on “hot-and-heavy quickies” and “10 Sizzling Secrets of Women Who Love Sex”.
Participants were all female and straight, with the exception of a small number of bisexuals. Sixty percent were sexually experienced, and this was taken into account by the authors when evaluating results.
The authors explained that they chose Cosmopolitan magazine in particular for several reasons. “Since it was transformed in the late 1960s under the editorship of Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan has maintained a reputation for being highly sexually explicit,” they wrote.
They added that, in addition to its popularity, the title has been “the subject of several recent and past content analyses, and thus we had a better sense of its content compared to that of other adult-oriented women’s magazines”. – Daily Mail