Hyper-masculine advertising has been found to encourage men to an “unrealistic and potentially harmful brand of masculinity.”
A new study published in the most recent issue of Sex Roles suggests that sexist advertising aimed at men is just as damaging as that aimed at women. According to the report, researchers found that “print ads targeting men also encourage them to aspire to an unrealistic and potentially harmful brand of masculinity,” otherwise known as hyper-masculinity, which the paper defines as “gender-based ideology of exaggerated beliefs about what it is to be a man.”
Psychologists from the University of Manitoba studied the ads in 8 US men’s magazines which were published in 2007-2008, the publications were “differentiated by readership age, education, and household income,” and the ads were analyzed for any “hyper-masculine depictions.” What researchers found was that at least 50% of the ads in most magazines, and as many as 90% in some promoted one or more of the following hyper-masculine beliefs:
- Danger is exciting.
- Toughness is a form of emotional self-control.
- Violence is manly.
- It’s fine to be callous about women and sex.
The study indicates that throughout the ads which were analyzed, “The beliefs that toughness equals control and that danger is exciting were more common than the belief that violence is manly or callousness towards women and sex.” Research also showed that hyper-masculine ads were significantly more common in magazines geared toward “younger, lower-income, and less educated readers.” In other words, those who are most at-risk for “appropriating such beliefs and behaviors.” The study also asserts that the perpetuation of the hyper-masculine images in the advertisements is problematic because it “exposes readers to these beliefs and normalizes them.”