The Media’s Pornification of Women

Here’s a fascinating but not all that surprising study from the University of Buffalo: they recently analyzed more than 1,000 images of men and women on Rolling Stone covers over the course of 43 years (they chose Rolling Stone since it’s a well-established, pop-culture media outlet) and found the following:

  • In the 1960s, 11 percent of men and 44 percent of women on the covers of Rolling Stone were sexualized.
  • In the 2000s, 17 percent of men were sexualized (an increase of 55 percent from the 1960s), and 83 percent of women were sexualized (an increase of 89 percent).
  • Among those images that were sexualized, 2 percent of men and 61 percent of women were hypersexualized.
  • In the 2000s, there were 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men, and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women.

Read the rest of this post on SUNfiltered


  1. So I followed through a bunch of links and I find the whole thing interesting, but I remain unconvinced. It sounds too much like straight third-wave feminism’s “any depiction of women is oppressive.”

    The image of Lady Gaga is anything but portraying her as “passive.” And anyone who has seen more than thirty seconds of Gaga anywhere knows that she is very aggressive in pushing her sexuality. I have to wonder what part of Katy Perry and Beyonce the researchers found to be “passive.”

    But let’s assume that the researchers are correct that Rolling Stone is more sexualized than it used to be. What part of society is not? In comparison to other magazines competing for the same niche, is Rolling Stone better or worse?

    The idea that sexualized photos of women necessarily promotes violence against women remains highly speculative. Yet the researcher quotes this as if it were proven fact.

  2. There’s an assumption that the “pornification of the media” is a bad thing. 20 years ago, feminists would have baulked at any pretty face adorning a magazine cover, and today it’s certain cultures who require models to stay at home and bring up the kids.

    I think the point is that we live in a pluralistic society, we have a choice, being sexy is the prettiest elephant in the room.

    Did we have the same headlines concerning the gay-ification of the media?

Comments are closed.