With sexism and sexual assault cases prevalent, well, everywhere, a team of researchers have recently shown how men’s magazines normalise sexist behaviour towards women.

‘These latest studies demonstrate how a concrete source of social influence (lads’ mags) can shape the expression of a prejudice that is generally considered unacceptable in an egalitarian society. However – in a microcosm of what we have seen in the lads’ mag market in recent years – when the extreme hostility of the content of lads’ mags is made obvious, men are more likely to reject these magazines,’ according to Professor Peter Hegarty, lead author of the study.

A team of social psychologists from a few UK universities last week revealed how ‘lads’ mags’ normalise sexist behaviour and even showed a link between ambivalent sexism and buying men’s magazines.

Despite editors of men’s magazines such as FHM and Zoo claiming that sexist humour in these publications is harmless because male readers perceive it as ironic, according to the study, the study refutes this claim. ‘In a study of 81 UK men aged between 18 and 50, participants were presented with sexist jokes both in and out of a lads’ mag context. Young men – particularly those who scored lower on sexism measures – considered the jokes less hostile when they were in a lads’ mag context (but not more ironic or funnier).’

Showing the correlation between sexism and and buying men’s mags, another study’s research involved 423 UK men aged 18 to 30: ‘This revealed that if a man displays ambivalent sexism he is more likely to buy lads’ mags than other men, but not more likely to indulge in other forms of direct sexual consumption (paying for sex or going to strip clubs).’

Peter of the University of Surrey’s Department of Psychology says: ‘Sales of lads’ mags have declined significantly in recent years, with several ceasing publication, but ‘lad culture’ and the normalisation of sexism is still a major concern, particularly on university campuses and online.’